My opinion :
“When you work with animals
you’re bound to get bit”
Dumb, dumber, dumbest. That was my first thought after seeing this action flick. Despite that I've always been a fan of hard, straightforward actionmovies and an ardent fan of films with Jean-Claude Van Damme (and that's not because he's a fellow countryman) demonstrating his fighting techniques. Even a film with Steven Seagal (in his heydays when he still had enough oxygen to whirl round his opponent) would get my attention. But compared to these old-school action movies, "Falcon Rising" isn't a big deal. Even the grimace John Chapman (Michael Jai White) had on his face after overpowering two robbers in a shop, is a lame imitation of Van Damme's or Bruce Lee's victory grin.
In terms of predictability this film tops everything. Falcon (the nickname of John Chapman) is a former Marine suffering from PTSD. And apparently he doesn't experience joy in life anymore. As a result, he sits at home in his shabby couch, playing a game of Russian roulette and consuming gallons of liquor. Until it appears that his sister Cindy (Laila Ali. Yes, daughter of the famous boxing legend), a kind of Mother Teresa helping in the favelas of Rio, has been found more dead than alive. Of course Falcon finds the miraculous power to put aside his drinking problem plus suicidal tendencies and flies straight to Brazil. Having arrived there, he starts searching for those responsible immediatly and bumps into both meaningless local rascals as drug gangs. Even the notorious Yakuza are involved somehow. And yes, also a couple of corrupt cops turn up.
I know these type of films don't exactly excel in coming up with a credible and engaging storyline. But the nonsense was nevertheless massively present. Don't you think it's ridiculous to check if someone's still alive after putting a bullet through his head? And I'm still wondering how John managed to crawl into the trunk of a car in that short time. And when he starts messing things up in a brothel owned by the Yakuza, they call all hands on deck. To my surprise only four men were ordered to fix it.
The focus is of course on the fight scenes (what a surprise), demonstrating all kinds of techniques from different martial arts. Unfortunately, there aren't really a lot of of these scenes in "Falcon Rising" during the first half of the movie. Also, it looked more like shadow boxing or demonstrations most of the times. It seemed as if they were afraid to hit eachother. Also, the progress of John's Brazilian adventure is similar to that of a PC game. Like "Mortal Combat" for example. A standard course where he has to work his way up through different levels. From local punks to the tattooed leader (who isn't easy to beat).
The acting performances weren't particularly impressive either. Only Michael Jai White's torso impressed. Laila Ali is famous because of her father, but she didn't get the chance to prove herself as an actress (Kind of obvious since she was in a coma large part of the film). Masashi Odate's tattoo was breathtaking and his samurai sword was without a doubt razor sharp, but ultimately Hirimoto was nothing more than an easy prey. Probably bought his way into the Yakuza. The only noteworthy person, and that's because of his charismatic appearance and pronounced character face, was Neal McDonough. So "Falcon rising" disappointed in many ways. Substandard acting, a few disappointing brawls and a simplistic script. Even the ending of the film is a failure and totally implausible (working for the intelligence service as a sort of hospitalization insurance). But it has a whopper of a cliffhanger in order to knit some sequels to it. Hopefully the scriptwriter has a bit more original ideas.