36 Films: Underworld (2003)

For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by presenting a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today.

Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t make an appointment to have us neutered.

Part 30 of the 36-part series takes a look at “An Enemy Loved” with Underworld.

The Synopsis

They say you can pick your ass but you can’t pick your true love. Never has that been more true than in this tale about the centuries-old war between vampires and werewolves. Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is a leather-clad vampire warrior sworn to continue her race’s proud tradition of slaughtering the burly and thuggish Lycans on sight. But when a very special and felicitous human named Michael (Scott Speedman) is turned into a werewolf Selene finds herself falling in love with him. Can sworn enemies find peace in the name of love? Not if uber-vampires Viktor and Kraven have anything to say about it…

The Situation

“An Enemy Loved” – There are three elements to this situation. The Lover feels affection for the Enemy which causes the Hater to despise the Lover. Love is rarely something controllable and instead finds a life of its own within us, and it’s that unpredictable nature that leads to ill-advised love affairs.

The feuding sides in Underworld are not simply in disagreement with each other… they’re engaged in a battle of life and death. Selene’s feelings for Michael arise after he saves her life and before she discovers he’s a werewolf, but her affections remain even when she hears the truth. Her sole job as a vampiric death dealer is to eliminate these lycanthropic mutts, and yet here she is irrevocably in love with one. Her pointy-toothed brethren are shocked at her dalliance and demand she have Michael put down, but her love just may trump duty, peer pressure, and responsible pet ownership alike.

The Movie

Just so we’re clear, I’m not really a fan of Underworld. I watched it seven years ago after being blown away by the highly stylized trailer and the leather-clad hottie, but I found the movie itself to be slow, drab, and unexciting. Having just re-watched it last night I’m forced to admit my initial feelings haven’t changed at all. Beckinsale’s still incredibly attractive, flexible, and tiny enough to toss around like an S&M doll, but the movie is just as much of a chore to sit through. Sadly, it’s the best example of today’s situation that my addled brain could come up with aside from Romeo and Juliet

So anyways. Underworld.

Hatred and antagonism between vampires and werewolves is commonplace now in shows and movies like True Blood and Twilight, but Underworld was possibly the first to present the idea as an organized schism. Selene falling for Michael when he’s human is already a crime to some in her world because humanity is viewed as little more than a silent buffet. But when his status as a werewolf is revealed her fellow vamps are aghast and her traitorous libido.

One of the possible variants on the situation involves the lover seeing things in a new way when it comes to the former enemy’s perspective, and that certainly applies here. Somewhat. Michael is new to the whole werewolf thing but through him Selene learns that the history she’s been taught is false. The lycanthropes were the initial victims in this century-long feud between the species, and it’s in fact her kind that were the initial aggressors. Love breeds knowledge and possibly peace. (After thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition are fired aimlessly from machine pistols…)

Bonus Examples: Romeo & Juliet, Tromeo & Juliet, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (that last one is according to Cole Abaius who’s understandably obsessed with the Chinese fingerbang)

Click here to read our entire series of 36 Dramatic Situations, 36 Movies

Supplication – The Most Dangerous Game

Deliverance – The Rescuers

Crime Pursued By Vengeance – Death Wish

Vengeance Taken For Kindred Upon Kindred – The Lion King

Pursuit – Silence of the Lambs

Disaster – Airplane!

Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune – Misery

Revolt – Lucky Number Slevin

Daring Enterprise – The Professionals

Abduction – The Chaser

The Enigma – Se7en

Obtaining – There Will Be Blood

Enmity of Kin – Once Were Warriors

Rivalry of Kin – Grumpy Old Men

Murderous Adultery – Match Point

Madness – Grizzly Man

Fatal Imprudence – The Fly

Involuntary Crimes of Love – Oldboy

Slaying of Kin Unrecognized – Halloween

Self-sacrifice for an Ideal – Hunger

Self-sacrifice for Kin – Harakiri

All Sacrificed for Passion – A Single Man

Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones – The Seventh Continent

Rivalry of Superior vs Inferior – Toy Story

Adultery – In the Mood For Love

Crimes of Love – Dog Day Afternoon

Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One – Festen

Obstacles to Love – I Love You Phillip Morris

An Enemy Loved – Underworld

Ambition – Wall Street

Conflict With a God – The Truman Show

Mistaken Jealousy – My Best Friend’s Wedding

Erroneous Judgment – The Contender

Remorse – In Bruges

Recovery of a Lost One – Gone Baby Gone

Loss of Loved Ones – Dear Zachary

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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