Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
You know the guy… tortured war vet, only dreams of his dead colleagues he left behind, over-trained by our government to do just one thing, that being the ability kill people just by thinking real hard.  That guy.  Released to the general public and probably living next door.  Or in my own personal case, a guy I call 'Dad'.  He's better now though.  Today that guy is John Chapman and he is being played by Michael Jai White in the movie 'Falcon Rising'.  Michael Jai White kicking people in the face and shooting them in the brain.  Is there any way that this combination won't entertain?  No sir… betting against this one not to deliver at least some form of basic entertainment would be a sucker bet.

As mentioned, John Chapman starts every week by loading a couple bullets into his revolver, spinning it, putting the barrel in his mouth and pulling the trigger.  He's not in his happy space right now.  And if he fails at killing himself, then he does curls.  Even though he's suicidal… fitness first.

Then his baby sister Cindy (Laila Ali) pays a visit and all is right for a little while for big John.  Sure, she's a social worker in crazy violent Sao Paolo Brazil, but what bad could possibly happen when goes back after her visit with big brother?

Well somebody in Brazil done beat poor Cindy near to death, news delivered to John by his ex-handler Manny Ridley (Neal McDonough), and if ever there was a little sister that should've been left alone… it was this guy's sister.   Now it's time to take a quick trip to Sao Paolo and ask some questions.  Kind of.  Chapman isn't really much of an interrogator, truth be told.  But what my man is good at is killing people, and by golly, the streets of Brazil are gonna run bright red.  Why did the bad people put baby sis in a coma that she may or may not come out of?  Is that really important in a movie like this?  No it is not.  All we needed was an excuse to unleash the weapon, and hope that we enjoy our time watching people die in an awesome way.  'Falcon Rising' fulfilled that simple desire, thank you very much.
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I'm talking to my action fans here, a dwindling demographic we are over here, if ever there was a dwindling demographic.  We kind of know what we are going to get when we toss our VOD dollar on the table in regards to the movie we are about to watch.  We know with Seagal we're getting a lot of his skinny stuntman, and the movie will be marginally entertaining at best.  We know Scott Adkins is going to bring the awesome, but it would be nice if he were a little better actor.  Dolph and JCVD are constants who usually deliver in the clutch in various ways… but Michael Jai White?  This guy here is almost money in the bank.  Yeah that 'Android Cop' movie was suspect, but it was The Asylum mockbusting Robocop so what can you expect from that? Now I'm not saying the director Ernie Barbrash's 'Falcon Rising' is the be to end all of action movies, but it delivers most of what we hope to see in one of these movies, and this is largely due to its dynamic star.

Mr. White can run and jump and kick with the best of them, and not only does he makes that stuff that he does look real, he's also probably has the best acting chops of any our VOD action heroes to date.  Not that the role of John Chapman really pushed the envelope.  Over-trained, tortured government badass on a quest for revenge.  Stop me if you've heard that story before.  Usually there is some bigger picture in which our completely bad guys are trafficking something, be it guns… drugs… bootleg DVD's… here its little Brazilian girls.  Trafficking little girls is just awful, but they could've been trafficking marshmallows and John Chapman still would've stabbed the bad guys in the brain.

The supporting characters also helped sell this nonsense a little better as well, though Neal McDonough, as awesome an actor as he is, was kind of wasted in this.  Could've gotten anybody to do what he did in this movie.  Same for Laila Ali, if only because she's Laila Ali and she's a fighter so I kind of expected her to do a little fighting, but it wasn't to be.  No, the best performances were offered up by Jimmy Navarro as the cool cop semi-helping Chapman on the case, even though just by looking at the guy he looked like he was up to no good, and also Masashe Odate as our main heavy, and a really smooth bad guy.  Probably not smooth enough to make it out this movie alive, but smooth nonetheless.  And Lateef Crowder shows up doing that thing he does and doing it well.  He's probably gonna get beat to death too.  I wonder who would win in a real fight between Michael Jai White and Lateef Crowder?

'Falcon Rising' does have its flaws as a work of cinema, most of these being the fairly typical, outlandish, ridiculous, insane issues that are present in almost every action movie ever made, even the great ones… which this one isn't… but it is an entertaining one.  Word is this might be the start of a franchise.  Well we sure hope so, because the dwindling demographic needs stuff like this to keep us going.
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