has one of the largest Japanese expat communities outside of Japan.
Unfortunately, that also entails a Yakuza presence—or at least it used to,
until the Rio clan nearly killed the wrong ex-marine’s sister. They will soon
learn John Chapman’s martial arts skills and PTSD death wish make him all kinds
of deadly. He even has a codename to dig out of mothballs in Ernie Barbarash’s Falcon Rising (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
by his experiences in the Middle East (refreshingly, these seem to be more
about what they did to his men than what he did to them), Chapman is
essentially trying to booze his way into an early grave. However, he manages to
pull himself together when his NGO do-gooding sister Cindy blows into town for
a quick visit. She should have stayed longer. Soon after returning to her favela
nonprofit, a violent attempt on her life leaves her in a coma.
put out by this news, Chapman hastens down to Rio, where his old service buddy Manny
Ridley is a senior Foreign Service Officer. Ridley cannot get too involved in
the smackdowns, but he can point Chapman in the right direction. Before long he
will be shaking the Yakuza’s tree, while their crooked minions on the police
force try to finish off both Chapmans. Good luck with that.
we’re talking total B-movie here, but Falcon
harbors few illusions about where its comparative advantages lie. Michael
Jai White brings plenty of heat as Chapman and develops some pleasant bantering
buddy chemistry with the ever-reliable Neal McDonough’s Ripley. However, one
would think the film could have better used retired boxer Laila Ali (daughter
of Muhammad), who spends most of the film hooked up to tubes.
Hazuki Kato gets to be the action femme fatale, displaying some nice chops and
an intriguing presence as Yakuza lieutenant Tomoe. In contrast, Masashi Odate
is a little too icy and reserved as her master, Hirimoto, but he swings the
samurai sword with credibility and authority. However, Lateef Crowder arguably
shows off the best moves as Carlo Bororo (a.k.a. crooked cop #2).
a journeyman action helmer, Barbarash (whose credits include the similarly
entertaining Assassination Games) is
clearly in his power zone. He stages some pretty impressive fight scenes (choreographed
by Larnell Stovall) that eschew shaky cams in favor of full body shot clarity.
Barbarash also soaks up the local color, giving viewers a good feel for the Rio’s
This is a small film even in the world of action
movies, but it is still a lot of fun, sure-footedly following in the spirit and
tradition of the American Ninja franchise.
Recommended for fans of White and unpretentious martial arts films, Falcon Rising launches today on VOD
(where it should do the lion’s share of its business) and opens tomorrow (9/5)
in New York at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Martial arts cinema, Michael Jai White, Yakuza films