Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Review

Thanks for checking out our Underworld: Rise of the Lycans review.

I was beyond excited when I first heard about the original Underworld movie. I mean come on… werewolves versus vampires! Does a geek need to hear anything else to get his blood pumping? The answer is no. Add on top of that a hot as hell Kate Beckinsale dressed in tight leather fighting the armies of the night. Sign me up! Unfortunately the movie didn’t quite live up to it’s potential. It had fantastic style and a great mythology behind it, but it suffered in its execution. It did introduce us to my all time favorite movie vampire however… Viktor! Then came Underworld 2 and it was… how do I put this? A giant sack of crap. It’s just best that we all treat it like Highlander 2 and just forget it ever existed.

When they first announced that there would be a third Underworld film I was extremely apprehensive (because the second one was so bad and he story seemed to have nowhere left to go), until I found out that it was going to be a prequel. An Underworld movie about the old war. Showing the Vampires in all their glory and the Lycans in all their savagery. This was the Underworld movie I had been waiting to see. Did it deliver on all my hopes and dreams? No… but it was still quite good and without a doubt the best Underworld film to date.


The synopsis for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans looks something like this: “This prequel story traces the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires known as Death Dealers and their onetime slaves, the Lycans. In the Dark Ages, a young Lycan named Lucian emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor, the cruel vampire king who has enslaved them. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, Sonja, in his battle against the Death Dealer army and his struggle for Lycan freedom. FX artist Patrick Tatopoulos, who developed the creatures for the first two films, is directing.”


The term “all killer no filler” comes to mind here. Very little precious screen time is wasted on us puny humans (except as Vampire or Lycan food). Almost every second of this film is spent with either Vampires or Lycans on the screen. Usually pissed off at each other… often killing each other. For a film like Underworld this is a total positive because it seems like the producers are finally starting to clue in to the fact that in a werewolf/vampire movie… we wanna see werewolves fighting vampires. Now if only Michael Bay can learn the same lesson with Transformers… but I digress.

The visual effects for this film… when you really consider how small the production budget was… are amazing. You have to understand that by Hollywood standards the budget on Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was beyond tiny. Oh there are times that the effects look like they came from 2002, but I was very impressed with what they were able to pull off.

One of the big risks and problems with doing sequels is that you can end up doing stuff that is totally inconsistent with the other films. I like to call this the “Phantom Menace Effect” (what the hell do you mean Darth Vader built C3PO? Huh… Obi Wan doesn’t remember R2D2?). But Underworld 3 totally nails the issue of consistency… probably better than I’ve ever seen a prequel done before. Everything fits perfectly and flows seamlessly into the events of the first Underworld film. Not an easy task… but they did it very well.

The battle scenes were done often and well. I won’t say they were mind blowing or anything like that… but there was good quality and quantity in terms of violence for certain… especially the bigger battle scene. The film is guilty of a bit of shaky cam during the fights… but it wasn’t bad enough to detract from the fights overall.

Viktor is still the coolest Vampire ever


Oh dear heavens… this movie has one of the WORST sex/love scenes in the history of werewolf vs. vampire movies. Ok, one of the worst of any kind of films. It just sort of comes out of nowhere… feels awkward as hell… has absolutely zero heat to it and by the end doesn’t even pay you off with so much as a Rhona boob shot.

While Viktor is still the baddest vampire on the block… this movie almost neutered him a little bit. He was not nearly as menacing or “all powerful” as he was in the first Underworld film. This MIGHT be considered a tiny bit of a spoiler… but in the first Underworld film Lucian’s big plan was to create a Half Vampire/Half Werewolf creature that could potentially stand a chance in a fight against Viktor… because no one can stand toe to toe with Viktor and last more than 5 seconds. Not Lucian, not anyone. Viktor was just too powerful. But in this film, Viktor and Lucian go toe to toe and almost seem like equals. It’s a minor point, but one that bothered me nonetheless.

Yes, I already said the quality and quantity of the visual effects in Underworld 3 were extremely impressive considering the budget… but you don’t just get a free pass because of your budget. This is still a Hollywood film and as such we expect a certain level of quality to the movie done with some consistency. So while I have no idea how they pulled off so much with so little… you still have to dig them for how poor (by proper Hollywood standards) some of the visual effects looked.

The movie lacked one of the strong elements of the first Underworld film. STYLE. With all the weaknesses of the first film, you were always taken with it’s pure visual/fanionable/cultural and mythological STYLE… especially of the vampire covens. This film didn’t have any of that. Instead of living in plush decadence, the vampire city seems dreary, cold and as lifeless as their own vampire hearts. Too bad.


Underworld: Rise of the Lycans succeeds in all the areas is needed to in order to deliver a fun time at the movies while failing to deliver what it required to make it really special. The wussing out a bit of Viktor, some bad visual effects and lack of real style are overcome just enough by the pure amount of Vampires fighting Vampires, the effectiveness of the continuity with the first Underworld film and the decent performances by Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy and Rhona Mitra to end up being the best of the franchise so far and worth a trip to the movie theater. Overall I give Underworld: Rise of the Lycans a 7 out of 10.

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36 thoughts on “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Review

  1. i havent seen the first one for a little while and when given the chance i will watch them all… p.s i have seen them all at one point….
    on several sites it says that there was a sonja in the first one …? would i be correct in thinking thats the elder ??
    but if that is true how can that be if she was killed before all those events happend- and her death was what brought the actual war ??

    also it says that selene was in the rise of the lycans :S which she wasent as far as i am aware …

    just though i would ask .. just finished watching the rise of the lycans and it got me wundering :)

  2. You almost make me bad for liking the movie. It’s the first movie of the series I saw, got to it with no prejudice and liked what I saw. Not the best movie ever but I didn’t fell asleep or cut it in the middle.


  3. Hi, and thanks for posting the review. I’m looking forward to buying the DVD on the 18th of May. The other Underworld films were well acted, had superb characters and fight scenes, and the plot and fancy gadgetry kept me entertained throughout. This is a prequel to the Kate Beckinsale movies, so it is not necessary to have seen the other two movies first, I suppose, as they come much later after the events of this one. =)

  4. For fans of the prior Underworld movies, this helps to explain the story behind a large part of the ongoing feud between the vampires and the lycans. For those lacking experience with the existing films, welcome to the club and I’m sure you’ll be well-acquainted soon. This film definitely paves the way for new fans as it ties all of the storylines together and ends with a familiar face.

  5. I’m going to have to read more of your reviews since, for me anyway, you nailed this one right on the head. Typically I never take any critic’s review seriously… after reading yours i’ll have to come back here more often. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie but was more than pleasantly surprised, was fun to watch yet not something i’d watch over and over.

  6. I would suppose Viktor sucked because he hasn’t been a vampire for that long. The beginning of the film stated that it had been 20 years since Marcus/William were created. The events of Underworld I take place 1400 years later. Plenty of time to build some strength and snap Raze’s neck with barely flexing a muscle :)

    1. To Angel:

      Nor Vampires, nor Werewolves/Lycans gain strength with years that pass. Their mutual skills and experience were improved that’s all.

      But if they evolved to become stronger over time than both are doing it slowly imho and if it still the case it’s not only vampires that can do so. I don’t know where people are getting this.

      Also people need to understand that Werewolves/Lycans are way more powerful than vampires. Their leaders, Williams and Lucian are much stronger than Markus and Vicktor. Vampires without weapons are dead meats againts werewolves/Lycans. To end this, Lycan which transform at will, who has the benefit to use his feral power while in human form(can extract silver head arrows or bullets) can use weapons like vampires etc.. is the best evolution for them than to stay in a werewolf form for ever.

  7. dude i think you got confused when watching the films:
    1. he killed selene’s family b/c they new how to find william’s prison (they built it), viktor killed them b/c they knew too much, this was after lucian started the war.

    2. viktor turned selene after he killed her family b/c she reminded him of his daughter that he condemed to death, so her turns her after sonya is dead.

    3. selene held the key when she was a child, probably before it was handed to viktor and viktor gave it to his daughter, which lucian took after he saw her die, but selene got it when lucian died in the first one.

    4. like i said before he turned selene after sonya was killed, and when he went to kill her family she reminded him about sonya and thus turned her into a vampire.

    hope this answers your questions my friend.

  8. Hi,

    I would like to ask a question regarding the movie. I haven’t read the novel or anything regarding this but I have watched all 3 movies.

    My question is when the time line of the transformation of Selene happened? Here are some things to ponder on.

    1. They captured William while all 3 elders were awake (in evolution). They had the father of Selene make the cage for William. Viktor killed Selene’s family after that but didn’t kill Selene because it reminded Viktor of his daughter Sonia.

    2. In the time of Sonia and Lucius, Selene was no where to be found. She should have been there already.

    3. If the building of the cage happened after that time (Sonia and Lucius), how could Selene have held the key if it was already with Lucius?

    4. If it happened before, even if Selene wasn’t there, how could Viktor be reminded of Sonia if she wasn’t even been born or dead yet?

    Please experts, shed some light on this.


  9. Okay Mr.Campea,
    Firstly you are right with that whole crucifix hanging halfway off the cliff love scene… WEIRD.
    But you are wrong! It is no way consistent to the flashbacks in the first movie. Watch it again if you think I am wrong. She doesn’t die the same and her father is watching and then Lucian jumps out the roof without breaking the window. How hard is it to look back on what Len Wiseman originally wrote. In the original underworld it says that the warewolves were meant as the day time guardians of the vampires but they aren’t in this one. They guard only at night and it is discussed whether this should happen but gets dropped for the story line between Sonja and Lucian to happen.

    1. the movies hits in our cinema on the 12th of march in nz, but i watching da trailers n i wanted to know what happened to selene and michael its kinda of puttin me off to go watch it or will find out when i go watch it

  10. Well, Underworld movies all have a lame, out of nowhere love story and a horrid sex scene. UW2 had a sex scene where it looked like Beckinsale was being fucked in the belly button. Guess this one continues the trend.

    And as dumb as the first one is, the cinematography, costumes, and art direction are fantastic.

  11. Dare I say, the “lack of even a side boob shot” is the true spoiler! I mean, it is Rhona f’ing Mitra. I was hoping for at least a few extended seconds of fully exposed rack. Oh well. There is always that Ali G. film she was in. Thanks, John.
    The Rake

  12. I don’t think the point of creating a hybrid werewolf/vampire was Lucian’s plan to defeat Viktor. I believe it was due to the child that he had lost with Viktor’s daughter.

  13. I think some of the minor plot issues might be resolved in reading the novels. For example, in the novels I got the impression that a vampires strength correlates with its age (why some vampires get destroyed by Lycans and why Selene can seemingly fight several at once). Victor would have been much younger (or freshly turned) as a vampire.

    Also, in looking at those vampire living a lavish lifestyle in the first film…I think it was mentioned in the novel that the change happened after the “end” of the war, when Lucien was thought to be killed. Some vampires became more beaurocratic, and began enjoying their immortality. Other remained as deathdealers, tasked only with exterminating remaining Lycans.

    Can’t wait to see the movie. In the book, it seemed by far the bloodiest of the three :)

  14. For me there’s definitely a huge chance to like this movie a lot more than the first two movies. Selene is not the main character here and hopefully we sill see not much of her or better nothing at all.

  15. i seen this movie 2 nights ago and i have to say that this movie IMO was complete shit….seemed like a movie from the early 90’s…seriously it sucked….rhona mitra looks like a man straight up in some of the scenes.

  16. 7/10 is more then semi-approval. That sounds like approval to me.

    I don’t know where people all over the net keep getting the impression lately, that for something to be good, the score in the review has to be a 9 or 10.

  17. Thanks for the review John…I’m really excited to see this movie and your stamp of semi-approval has just made it offical…btw new layout is off the hizook

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