Monday, 18 May 2015

Falcon Rising


Directed by: Ernie Barbarash
Written by: Y.T. Parazi
Starring: Michael Jai White, Neil McDonough, Jimmy Navarro, Lateef Crowder & Laila Ali

Falcon Rising hopes to be the first instalment in a new action franchise starring fight fan favourite, Michael Jai White. Here, the one-time Spawn and all round great ass kicker plays John “Falcon” Chapman a former soldier now dealing with severe post traumatic stress disorder. Sliding down the shady slope of booze and unadvisable games of Russian roulette he is shaken out of his dark descent when he discovers his sister, Cindy (Ali), has been brutally attacked while doing charitable work in the favelas of Brazil. Springing into action, Falcon jets to Brazil and begins his own investigations into his sister’s attack and discovers she may have stumbled into a world of corrupt cops, child stealing rings and dangerous Yakuza gangs. 

Director Ernie Barbarash has been knocking out some solid action films of late (Assassination Games, 6 Bullets, the incoming Pound of Flesh), and likewise Michael Jai White has been no slouch either (Undisputed 2, Blood and Bone, the incoming Skin Trade) and the teaming of two delivers a satisfying and bone crunching start to a would be franchise. Falcon Rising is slickly produced (and gets the best from its sun soaked setting and locations), well acted (Jai White has got the tough but nice guy persona down pat) and for the most part delivers an enjoyable mix of drama and full force action. Granted the film is maybe not as saturated with fight action as one may be hoping (don’t worry there is still a decent amount) and unfortunately some of the plot twists and character revelations are sign posted from the get go (though it’s nice to see the great Neal McDonough actually being a friend to our hero for a change rather than a slimy bad guy!) but Falcon’s journey through the favelas is nicely handled by director Barbarash and his committed cast.

The film actually satisfyingly builds to the action (with a few teases along the way) as we get to know the Falcon character somewhat before he unleashes his arsenal of fight and gun skills. Jai White is as excellent as ever and it’s refreshing that his character is a little damaged and on the edge rather than just another clean-cut-has-it-all-together (super) hero. Of course he kicks major ass in the fight scenes (crisply choreographed by Larnell Stovall: Undisputed 3, Never Back Down 2) and there is a surprisingly amount of (welcome) gunplay action to go along with the superior martial arts dust ups.

Sure it’s a franchise starter, the story is a little well worn and, ok, one more fight scene would have been welcome but Falcon Rising is a rewarding action drama that benefits from its exotic locations, an interesting lead character and some stellar action. Another hit for director Barbarash and Michael Jai White proves once again he’s one of the best actors and fight stars in action movies out there right now. Falcon Rising 2 soon please. 

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