starring: Michael Jai White, Laila Ali, Neal McDonough, Masashi Odate, Lateef Crowder
Action director/fight choreographer Larnell Stovall
Directed by Ernie Barbarash
Plot: John “Falcon” Chapman (White), is an ex-marine anti-hero plagued with a terrible secret consuming him with guilt. On the self-destructive edge, he learns his sister Cindy (Ali) has been brutally beaten in the slums or “favelas” of Brazil and travels there to hunt down her attackers. In the process he discovers an underground world of drugs, prostitution, and police corruption ruled by the Japanese mafia and protected by the powerful Hirimoto (Masashi Odate).
First and foremost Falcon Rising is an “action movie” melding unarmed fight scenes with gun battles and improvised weapon battles. With that said, action director Larnell Stovall uses the strengths of his actors in their fight scenes. The spectacular Lattef Crowder Dos Santos showcases his spectacular Capoeira in an early fight scene. Stovall has worked with Dos Santos previously in Undisputed 3 and seems to know how to capture the combat essence of Capoeira along with its beauty. Michael Jai White impresses in his action sequences especially in the multiple attack fight scenes. His intensity is evident and he truly looks like a bad a**. Masashi Odate as the Yakuza boss Hirimoto uses his katana to bloody good effect and his inclusion in the action department is straight forward like his character’s temperament. The number of “martial arts” themed fight scenes in Falcon Rising balances well with the military style disarms and kill shots John Chapman (White) executes and gives a well-balanced combat feel for White’s troubled yet skilled character.
Although Falcon Rising is in a similar formula to other action movies ( Bourne series, Taken, etc.) it is refreshing to see some new faces as the heroes and villains. The Yakuza controlling the child sex slave business in Brazil is a little far fetched, but works well for this movie. Michael Jai White proves he can handle playing the troubled, caring, and morally upright ( in a sense) one man army. The action scenes are plentiful, intense, and creative which makes this movie all the more enjoyable. This movie is a good action romp which serves to showcase Michael Jai White’s considerable physical skills and did I mention the great character actor Neal McDonough lends some good acting chops as Chapman’s old friend and US Embassy director who knows what Chapman plans to unleash.