My Take – Michael Jai White is one of the best action stars out there and is still under-utilized. It’s just a shame that he doesn’t necessarily have the best movies as most of them are mainly B grade or direct to DVD kind of stuff, & I usually don’t check out such stuff, but this film somehow sold me with an action packed trailer. From all aspects, this is 1st installment of the “Code Name : Falcon” series is a B picture – low budget, predictable plot, second tier actors, with the exception of a popular leading star, yet a generic star at the very best. It’s a straightforward vengeance tale with no other ambition than to entertain, and entertain it does in copious amounts along with indulging us with a tough-as-nails leading action hero to root for till the very end.
The story is pretty simple, White’s character, a muscled wedge of a man with a bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq, to the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where his social worker sister (Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter) has been beaten and left for dead by unsavory characters. Falcon flies to Rio, calling in help from an old war buddy (Neal McDonough) who works there in the U.S. consulate. Chapman is thrust into the chaotic and colorful atmosphere of the sprawling favela (slums) in Sau Palo, where Falcon begins his own investigation into his sister’s attack, asking uncomfortable questions around, and uncovering a corrupt in the city’s seedy underbelly that includes a world of drugs, the sex trade, corrupt cops, and organized crime syndicates battling for control. Just like the 80s action films, with strong men at the center going up alone against an unambiguously evil foe – a Japanese Yakuza outfit in this case. In colorful Brazilian surroundings, White’s character, a deadly martial artist, brings acres of pain to legions of unsavory characters. While this movie started off slowly, the second half was very entertaining and worth it. Predictable story but who cares, it’s all about the style for this movie. If you think too hard you’ll start noticing flaws and soon you’ll picking apart the film. The film is cheesy, but thankfully it knows that is.
The humor can be off at times and the dramatic tones can come off as soap opera like. The dialogue can be a little so-so at times and the action sequences are, for most part, watchable. Even if the sound effects are a bit odd. The acting is okay at times and the pacing can be a bit of a drag, the characters can be cliched and cartoon like at times but for the most part you know their role in the film. The fight scenes featured in the movie are top-notch, performed wonderfully by MJW. His movements and fluidity for a man his size is always great to watch. It’s a thrill to watch him dispatch several attackers at once with brutal efficiency. Fans of fancy flying kicks will love this stuff. His character is strong and entertaining to watch. On the whole, Falcon Rising is an entertaining film with a thrilling physical performance from its star – Michael Jai White & welcome throwback to 1980s action films.
Director – Ernie Barbarash
Rated – R
Run Time – 103 minutes