Pulpy, punk-ish story with some intense violence.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: January 4, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even during mythological blood feuds between super-powerful, violent species, there is a code of ethics to be followed and it’s hopeful that good will triumph over evil.

Positive role models

A female warrior is the conscience of the film and proves to be wiser, stronger, and more courageous than her peers.


Constant graphic and close-up bloodletting and killing by multiple weapons and acts: gunfire (including automatic weapons), swords, bared teeth and fangs, hanging, stabbing, explosions, crashes, and animal attacks. Characters transition from nearly human form into grotesque animal creatures many times. Bloody wounds, gashes, beheadings, severed body parts are shown countless times. One character experiences violent nightmares, which contain disturbing images of women in jeopardy, shadowy monsters, and gruesome killings.


There is an underlying sexual tension between the males and females of the species, but no overt sexual behavior other than the traditional blood-sucking that vampires utilize.


Language is rare, but strong, including "f--k," "s--t," "sonofabitch," and "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters smoke cigarettes. Vampires at home in an elegant parlor are shown drinking red liquid during several scenes. It’s unclear whether it is wine or blood.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a dark, violent horror movie about battles to the death between vampires and werewolves. Non-stop action results in one grisly scene after another. The film contains countless bloody killings, decapitations, impalements, up-close vampire fang attacks, gun battles, point-blank shootings, and numerous gory transitions from human form into monstrous animal creatures. A few strong words are sprinkled throughout ("sonofabitch," multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "Jesus Christ"). Some characters smoke cigarettes, and it’s unclear whether vampires shown in a social setting multiple times are drinking red wine or blood.

What's the story?

UNDERWORLD begins with a stylish subway shoot-out. It turns out that there has been a centuries-long war between the vampires and the lycan. Now the lycan are very interested in a human doctor named Michael (Scott Speedman) and the vampires want to know why. Michael is rescued by Selene (Kate Beckinsdale), and he rescues her in return. She is ordered to kill him. But he did save her life. And he is kind of cute. And you can tell they are meant for each other because while everyone else in the movie has slicked-back hair, Michael's and Selene's hair falls adorably over their eyes.

Is it any good?


Imagine West Side Story with vampires and lycans (wolfmen) instead of Sharks and Jets and guns, blades, and teeth-piercing necks instead of musical numbers, then dress them all in Matrix-inspired goth-bondage attire and you'll have Underworld, a pulpy, punk-ish story filled with runes and ruins. This is the kind of movie where characters with names like Craven say things like "But what about the Covenant?" and the exposition explanation begins in the 5th century, dust is blown from the cover of weighty medieval tomes, and huge heavy chains hang down for no particular reason.

If this movie doesn't quite rise to the category of silly fun, it is a tolerable comic book-style time-waster with some stylistic flair and some energetic action sequences.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the conflict in this movie is similar to real-world conflicts. Where in the real world are people struggling with longstanding disagreements? Why do these conflicts get violent?

  • Why do you think the violence in this movie is so graphic? Is that part of the appeal of a film like this? What would the movie be like if it toned down the graphic imagery?

  • Why are vampires so fascinating?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 18, 2003
DVD release date:January 5, 2004
Cast:Kate Beckinsale, Michael Sheen, Scott Speedman
Director:Len Wiseman
Studio:Screen Gems
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence/gore and some language

This review of Underworld was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

awesome movie but......

for kids my age this may be a little too much on the scary/gory side but i'd say it has awesome action scenes
Teen, 14 years old Written bymeemz4395 April 22, 2009

DUUUUUDDE . . . seriously, man up a bit

I'm 14 and I saw this...people are over reacting because this movie was excelent and I loved it.
Teen, 15 years old Written byenglishrider4546 April 9, 2008


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