Underworld (2003 film)

Underworld (2003 film)
Directed by Len Wiseman
Produced by Robert Bernacchi
Gary Lucchesi
Tom Rosenberg
Written by Story
Kevin Grevioux
Len Wiseman
Danny McBride
Danny McBride
Kevin Grevioux
Len Wiseman
Danny McBride
Narrated by Kate Beckinsale
Starring Kate Beckinsale
Scott Speedman
Michael Sheen
Shane Brolly
Erwin Leder
Bill Nighy
Music by Paul Haslinger
Studio Lakeshore Entertainment
Distributed by Screen Gems Pictures
Lakeshore Entertainment
Release date(s) September 19, 2003
Running time 121 minutes (original theatrical cut)
133 minutes (extended cut)
Country UK
Language English
Budget $22,000,000
Box office $95,708,457

Underworld is a 2003 action-horror film about the secret history of Vampires and Lycans (an abbreviated form of lycanthrope). It is the first installment (chronologically, the second) in the Underworld series. The main plot revolves around Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire who is a Death Dealer hunting Lycans. She finds herself attracted to a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) who is being targeted by the Lycans. After Michael is bitten by a Lycan, Selene must decide whether to do her duty and kill him or go against her clan and save him.

While reviewers generally received the film negatively, criticizing the overacting and lack of character development, a smaller number of reviewers praised elements such as the film's stylish Gothic visuals, the "icy English composure" in Kate Beckinsale's performance, and the extensively worked-out vampire-werewolf mythology that serves as the film's backstory.



Two vampires known as Death Dealers track a pair of Lycans, an ancient species of werewolf, who are in their human form. The vampires, Selene, (Kate Beckinsale) and Rigel, specialize in assassinating Lycans. Selene's motivation goes beyond duty; she also wants revenge; Lycans slaughtered her family when she was a child. The vampires believe they defeated the werewolves many centuries ago and killed their leader, Lucian, and that they must kill off the survivors. As the vampires follow the Lycans into a subway station the werewolves open fire with submachine guns and Rigel is killed. After the Lycans retreat from Selene's return fire and the arrival of a third Death Dealer, Nathaniel, she tracks them to their den. Nathaniel is slain by a Lycan named Raze after being ambushed. Upon reaching the Lycan den, Selene hears loud howling and learns that the Lycans have developed a new high-tech bullet to kill the vampires.

When Selene arrives at the vampire coven's mansion she recounts the evening's events and urges an attack on the Lycans, but the vampire regent, Kraven, tells her to drop the matter. Selene determines that the Lycans may have been following a human, Michael Corvin, and continues her investigation. In an underground Lycan lair, a scientist named Singe tests blood from kidnapped descendants of the ancient Corvinus family, trying to find a pure source of the ancient and powerful Corvinus bloodline. Soon after Selene finds Michael the pair are attacked by six lycans, including Lucian. After Lucian bites Michael, Selene helps Michael escape and the two become attracted to each other.

Selene discovers that when Lucian was supposedly killed, Kraven was the only witness. Sensing a conspiracy, she wakes a powerful elder vampire, Viktor, who has been hibernating. Viktor is angered by his early awakening, as it was Markus' turn to rule, not his. Viktor believes Kraven and orders Selene to acquiesce to the vampire hierarchy. Kraven has secretly planned to kill the vampire elder, Amelia, and her companions, with Lucian's help.

Selene tells Michael about the feud and her past. She then chains him to a wall, fearing that when he changes at the full moon he will kill innocent people. Selene captures Singe while Michael is captured by two Lycans. Selene returns to the mansion with Singe, who admits to Viktor that the Lycans are trying to combine the bloodlines of the two species with the Corvinus Strain to create a powerful hybrid. After Kraven flees the mansion because Singe has revealed that Kraven and Lucian are working together, news arrives that Amelia, who was coming to awaken Markus, has been killed by Lycans. Viktor kills Singe and gives Selene the chance to redeem herself by killing Michael.

While Michael is being held captive, he learns that Lucian and Viktor's daughter, Sonja, became lovers. When Viktor learned that his daughter had become pregnant by a Lycan, he killed her to prevent any crossing of the species, which led to the war. Selene arrives with a group of Death Dealers to bring an end to the Lycans and kill Kraven for his treachery. Lucian prepares to fight, but Kraven shoots him with a newly designed bullet intended to kill by poisoning a Lycan's bloodstream. Selene rescues Michael as her allies battle the Lycans, but he is shot by Kraven. Kraven tells Selene it was Viktor who killed her family, and that he would have killed her if she had not reminded him of Sonja. When Selene still refuses to join Kraven, he points his gun at Michael to finish him off. Lucian emerges, injuring Kraven and telling Selene to bite Michael to transmit the vampire virus into his bloodstream. Selene complies and Kraven flees after killing Lucian. Viktor arrives and throws Selene against a wall and then throws Michael through a wall and into a pond below. Viktor admits that Kraven told the truth, but tells Selene that he gave her more than her human family ever could have: immortality, he also reveals the truth of his love for Sonja and that his choice to have her killed was to protect the vampires. Viktor and the hybrid Michael fight, but Viktor gets the upper hand and attempts to strangle Michael. Selene grabs Viktor's sword and kills him with it.

Selene and Michael leave the Lycan lair, now enemies of both species. At the mansion, Singe's blood seeps into the sarcophagus of the remaining Elder, Markus, a carrier of the original Corvinus Strain. When his eyes open, they are vampire blue but then turn pitch black, the eyes of a hybrid.


Underworld film series

Legal controversy

The film was the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by White Wolf, Inc. and Nancy A. Collins claiming the setting was too similar to the Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse games, both set in the World of Darkness setting, and the Sonja Blue vampire novels. White Wolf filed 17 counts of copyright infringement, and claimed over 80 points of unique similarity between White Wolf's game systems and the movie. White Wolf, Inc. also claimed the script was very similar to a story entitled The Love of Monsters (1994) which they published and was written by Nancy A. Collins.[1][2] In September 2003, a judge granted White Wolf an expedited hearing. The lawsuit ended in a confidential settlement.[3]

Critical reception

Critics generally gave Underworld a negative reception. It scored a 30% approval rating at the film-critics' aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert said, "This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals". However, some critics were more favorable: the New York Daily News praised it as being "stylish and cruel, and mightily entertaining for certain covens out there".

Salon reviewer Andrew O'Hehir gave mixed criticism and praise, stating, "[B]y any reasonable standard, this dark vampire epic — all massive overacting, cologne-commercial design and sexy cat suits — sucks". But O'Hehir also remarks that, "...at least it gives a crap", conceding that despite the movie's flaws, the complex vampire-werewolf mythology back-story "has been meticulously worked out".[4]

Kevin L. Nault writes that one "significant character, Kraven (played by Shane Brolly), was consistently flat or simply off. Almost without fail, he came across with an emotion that I didn't buy, given the circumstances, or merely came across emotionally flat when I was expecting real terror."[5] Nault goes on to note that "a powerful performance by Kevin Grevioux (also one of two writers for the movie) as the werewolf Raze was partially wasted by the fact that I constantly wondered who he was. He was clearly an important part of the werewolf group, but didn't appear to be exactly second in command or anything."[5]

Sequels and prequel

The follow-up story, Underworld: Evolution, in which Markus awakens, was released January 20, 2006. The prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, which gives more detail as to the creation of the lycan species and Lucian's hatred, was released January 23, 2009. A third sequel has been planned with Kate Beckinsale signed to reprise the role of Selene. The films title is Underworld: Awakening and has a release date of January 20, 2012.[citation needed]


Underworld Soundtrack
Soundtrack album
Released 2003
Label Lakeshore
Producer Danny Lohner
Underworld film series soundtrack chronology
Underworld (2003) Underworld: Evolution (2006)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[6]

The film's soundtrack was produced by Danny Lohner and distributed via Roadrunner Records. Lohner (born 1970), a bass guitarist, guitarist and keyboardist who has recorded with Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, contributed several songs to the soundtrack under the pseudonym Renholdër. Lohner continued included a song by Skinny Puppy, a Canadian industrial band. Lohner also included a song by The Dillinger Escape Plan, a US band which performs an aggressive, technical style of hardcore punk called mathcore; a song by US alternative rock/post-hardcore band Finch entitled "Worms of the Earth"; a song by The Icarus Line, a band known for its abrasive form of rock music; and Lisa Germano, an American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who specializes in alternative rock and dream pop.

Music critic Bill Aicher notes that the "soundtrack follow[s] in a similar gothic vein" as the visuals and states that it "does an excellent job setting the dark mood" by using "a veritable who's who in the genre" with an "impressive array of metal, hard rock, industrial, and otherwise gothic-themed tracks".[7] Aicher notes that since "a majority of the selections [are] written, produced, or featuring Lohner, the album retains a sense of cohesion throughout, making it much more a complete product than has generally been the case with similarly-themed products."[7] He states that the "album's highest point" is the song with Maynard James Keenan (from Tool and A Perfect Circle), David Bowie, and guitarist John Frusciante (of The Red Hot Chili Peppers), which is entitled "Bring Me the Disco King (Loner Mix)"; he calls the song "[d]ark, brooding, sad, and twitchy".[7]

Track listing
Track # Song Artist(s)
1. "Awakening" The Damning Well (featuring Wes Borland, Richard Patrick, Josh Freese & Danny Lohner)
2. "Rev. 22:20" Puscifer (featuring Danny Lohner) performed by A Perfect Circle
3. "Throwing Punches" Page Hamilton
4. "Rocket Collecting" Milla Jovovich & Danny Lohner
5. "Now I Know" Renholdër
6. "Bring Me the Disco King (Danny Lohner Mix)" David Bowie (featuring Maynard James Keenan & John Frusciante)
7. "Optimissed" Skinny Puppy
8. "Down In the Lab" Renholdër
9. "Judith (Renholdër Mix)" A Perfect Circle
10. "Suicide Note" Johnette Napolitano
11. "Baby's First Coffin" The Dillinger Escape Plan
12. "Hover (Quiet Mix)" Trust Company
13. "Falling Through the Sky" Renholdër
14. "Weak and Powerless" (Tilling My Grave Mix) A Perfect Circle
15. "Worms of the Earth" Finch
16. "From a Shell" Lisa Germano
17. "Death Dealer's Descent" Renholdër
18. "On the Lash" The Icarus Line
19. "All of This Past" Sarah Bettens


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