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Film: Priest

A 2011 action film, very loosely based on the manhwa of the same name.

For most of recorded history, mankind was at war with a race of nocturnal predators known as vampires. While humanity possessed the advantage of technology, the vampires were faster, stronger, and at least as numerous as their human prey, and over centuries of conflict, humanity slowly lost ground against its ancient enemy. In order to avoid extinction, humanity retreated to heavily-fortified cities, living under the protection and guidance of the Church; meanwhile, the war against the vampires continued without end, eventually reducing much of the world to a blighted, radioactive wasteland. However, all this changed when the Church discovered a new weapon in their fight against the darkness: exceptional men and women with the physical prowess to defeat vampires in personal combat. Known only as "priests," these heroes allowed humanity to finally win the war against their blood-sucking foes.

In the years following the end of the war, the remaining vampires have been herded onto guarded reservations, while the priests have disappeared into obscurity, attempting to re-integrate into a society that really has no place for them. However, rumors still persist that the vampire menace has not been completely eradicated, despite the Church's attempts to quash them. And when one retired priest hears word that his niece has been kidnapped in a vampire raid, he will do whatever it takes to get her back, even if it means defying the will of the all-powerful Church....

This film provides examples of:

  • After the End: As mentioned above, the world outside Cathedral City is a blasted wasteland, where Determined Homesteaders try to scratch out a meager living from the ruined earth. The occasional raids by rabid packs of vampires don't help, and neither do the Church's attempts to deny that such things even happen anymore.
  • Alternate History
  • Animation Bump: The backstory explaining the war is told in a drawn format, animated by Genndy Tartakovsky, no less!
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Part of what makes Priests so good against vampires is their intimate knowledge of vampire physiology, allowing them to predict where the vampires will move.
  • Baddie Flattery: Black Hat complements Lucy's innate skill as she fruitlessly tries to stab him.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Black Hat does this when Lucy attacks him with a kitchen knife. He's super-strong and it probably isn't that sharp, so it's better than most examples.
  • Big Bad: Black Hat is the one orchestrating the vampires' plan...
    • Bigger Bad: ...but he's still subservient to the Vampire Queen, who is never faced directly by the priests and is still alive and on the loose after Black Hat's apparent death.
  • Bring It: Black Hat to the other two Priests after he rips the heart out of their comrade.
  • Celibate Hero: All priests are required to take a vow of celibacy. This weighs particularly heavily on our hero the Priest (who was forced to leave behind the love of this life and his newborn daughter) and our heroine the Priestess (who clearly has feelings for the Priest).
  • Christianity is Catholic
  • Combat Stilettos: The Priestess fights in boots with a solid three-inch heel on them.
  • Confusion Fu: Vampires bounce around in a bizarre and unpredictable manner when they move, making it difficult for anyone without specialized training to get a solid hit on one.
  • Cool Train: Black Hat and his army of vampires ride around on one. Its design may be a Shout-Out to the cover of Diamond Head's Am I Evil.
  • Corrupt Church: "To go against the church is to go against God." And that barely scratches the surface.
  • Crapsack World: Pick your poison. You can live outside the cities, barely scratching out a living with little to no protection from bandits, not to mention possible vampire attacks. Or you can live in the cities, where massive clouds of soot have blocked out the sun, belief in God is mandatory, and disobedience is synonymous with heresy.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the final duel between the Priest and Black Hat, the Priest is clearly outmatched. The only times he manages to get in anything even resembling a solid hit is when he catches Black Hat by surprise, and this provides at most a brief respite before the pummeling resumes.
    • This basically happens to anyone that fights Black Hat, due to him being part priest and part vampire, combining the speed and strength of a vampire with the combat training of a priest.
    • Also implied to have happened throughout the majority of the war between humans and vampires, as despite their technological advances the humans are continually outmatched by the vampires. The opening narration even says that even though humanity can move during the day and the vampires can't, it wasn't enough. The priests are the only things that save humanity from extinction.
  • Decapitation Presentation: At the end of the movie, the Priest tosses a vampire head at the foot of the Monsignor. He is not pleased.
  • Dhampyr: Black Hat, as a result of drinking the Queen's blood now has all the vampire's strengths and lacks the vulnerability to the sun.
  • Dissonant Serenity / Soundtrack Dissonance: Black Hat 'conducts' the music playing on a gramaphone record while vampires tear apart the people of Jericho.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Priests eschew firearms in their fight against the vampires, preferring various forms of bladed weaponry instead (both melee and thrown). Why this is the case is never really made clear in the film, considering the Priest demonstrates in one scene that he's a fantastic shot. It probably has something to do with how the priests' ill-defined vampire-slaying powers work.
  • Doing in the Wizard : Religious trappings aside, the movie Priest contains no overtly supernatural occurrences of any kind; even the priests' various physics-defying stunts can be rationalized as low-level telekinesis or something similarly pseudoscientific. Conversely, in the original manhwa, God's existence is a given and the plot revolves around hunting down Fallen Angels.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Priest and the Priestess.
  • Face-Heel Turn: The priest who would eventually become Black Hat.
  • Facial Markings: All priests are marked by a cross branded/tattooed in the center of their face.
  • Fanservice: The way-too-brief shot of a shirtless Paul Bettany.
  • Follow the Leader: A scene between Black Hat and Lucy is lifted directly from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
  • Giant Mook: The vampire hive guardian.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: It looks like the Priestess is going to do this to destroy the vampire train. Turns out that she has the bike on auto-pilot and jumps off at the last second.
  • Hero Killer: Black Hat.
  • In Name Only: Apparently, the reason the adaptation was so loose was because director Scott Stewart was afraid people would accuse him of ripping off his previous film, Legion, which is also religious in nature, features sci-fi battles involving angels, and stars Paul Bettany.
  • In the Hood: The standard priest outfit is a Badass Longcoat with a medieval monk-style hood. It makes for quite an imposing silhouette with the hood up.
  • Jump Physics: Priests are capable of leaping incredible distances, dropping incredible distances without being hurt, and boosting off thrown rocks in midair to get more height on a jump.
  • Jump Scare: The infamous "Don't Scream" scene at the end of almost every single commercial.
  • Kid Sidekick: Sheriff Hicks. He's a bit older than most examples, but still significantly younger than the Priest.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Bloody chunks rain down on the Priestess as she stands in a post-asskicking stance after slicing up a biker in mid-air.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: As it turns out, the Priest isn't Lucy's uncle after all. He fathered her with Shannon before being collected by the Church, and asked his brother Owen to play the part so that she'd have a father growing up.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Played both ways as most priests get their powers at a young age and thus are taken in and raised by the Church, but some are late bloomers power-wise. All priests take a vow of celibacy, so the question is how old was said priest when he/she was found.
  • Nice Hat: Black Hat takes his sobriquet from the snazzy black cowboy hat he wears. It's implied to be all that's left of him following the train explosion at the climax of the movie.
  • No Name Given: None of the priests seem to have real names anymore; our hero and heroine are listed simply as Priest and Priestess in the credits, for example. Our main villain doesn't seem to have a name, either, and is listed simply as Black Hat. Of course, Black Hat is a former priest.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Makes up most of the soundtrack.
  • Oh Crap: The Priest throws his shuriken-crosses at the Hive Guardian...and it doesn't die. Also the expression on the two other priests after Black Hat takes down the first priest in Jericho.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're pale, slimy, eyeless humanoids that look like a cross between a naked mole rat and a Licker from Resident Evil. Their social structure also resembles that of naked mole rats or bees.
    • Also, they're a totally separate species from humans, with their bites only turning humans into the ghoul-like Familiars. Unless, like Black Hat, you're fed a queen's blood, in which case you become a hybrid "human vampire".
  • Papa Wolf: Invoked. Black Hat kidnapped Lucy so her father, the Priest, would come after her. He was counting on the Priest's desire to protect her being so strong that he would forsake his vows to do it. In turn, the other Priests would be dispatched to apprehend him, leaving the city defenseless.
  • Person with the Clothing: Black Hat.
  • Punk Punk: Cathedral City is a Cyber Punk dystopia, while the wastelands have a distinct Desert Punk aesthetic, invoking the Wild West setting of the original manhwa.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Black Hat drains the Snake Oil Salesman and turns him into a Familiar as his 'compensation'.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The Priest forsakes his vows to rescue Lucy, and the Priestess likewise had no apparent intention of arresting him as ordered. At the end, she mentions that the remaining Priests will join the fight no matter what the Church says.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of the film, the Priest points out to the assembled congregation that the ruined train contains the bodies of hundreds of vampires — and that their queen isn't among them. Later, the Priestess more or less states outright that the surviving priests will be gathering to continue the war, with or without the Church's help.
  • Sexy Priest: What did you expect with hot actors like Paul Bettany and Maggie Q?
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Both the Priest and the Priestess exhibit signs of this, and it's implied to be a common problem among the surviving priests.
  • Shoot the Dog: The Priest knows fully well that Lucy may have been turned into a familiar by the vampires, and is prepared to end her suffering if that's the case. Hicks seems to have some trouble wrapping his head around this concept.
  • Shout-Out / Expy: The vampires are nocturnal, gaunt, eyeless, wall-crawling feral beasts that build enormous hives, infect humans and have a queen... totally not a xenomorph knockoff.
    • One could replace the opening cinematic with that of Dragon Age: Origins and not notice. Repeat after me, the Priests are not Grey Wardens...
  • Snake Oil Salesman: An obvious nod to this trope is the man trying to sell a potion that will ward off vampires...until the sheriff shoots the bottle out of his hand.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Familiars are ordinary humans who have been tainted by a vampire's bite. All the ones we see seem possessed of this mindset, though whether it's a side-effect of the conversion process or whether they've always been like that isn't made clear.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Albeit a very simplistic one. In the confession booth scene, the monsignor's replies are vaguely relevant (vague enough to literally respond to any situation with the same few phrases) to the Priest's inquiries, presumably using a Turing program.
  • Traintop Battle: Between the Priest and Black Hat.
  • The Unfought: The vampire queen—or a vampire queen—is briefly glimpsed in Black Hat's flashback, but is still around and a major threat by the end.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Pretty much all of human society towards the Priests following the end of the war. The Priestess mentions that she had trouble finding a job after the war was over and eventually was working as a garbage collector.
  • Vampire Hunter: The priests are written as such.
  • Warrior Monk: Every priest.
  • We Can Rule Together: During the climatic fight, Black Hat tries to convince the Priest to join him in serving the Queen. The Priest refuses.
  • Written by the Winners: Or in this case, Written By The Ones In Charge. If vampires have been defeated by the church, and they're a bunch of unclean blood-sucking abominations, why are they given places to stay and servants to keep them fed? And why does the Church use massive, pollution-spewing factories that blot out the sun even though they have hyper-efficient solar power generators? I mean, it's like the Corrupt Church is literally setting up an all-you-can-drain mortal buffet while keeping their followers completely unaware of what's going to—wait a minute...
  • The Worf Effect: Priests are superhuman warriors specially trained to kill vampires. Black Hat demonstrates his personal prowess by taking down three of them by himself (two of them offscreen).

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