2014, Strohberry Films

Ernie Barbarash
Ernst Etchie Stroh
Shahar Stroh
Y.T. Parizi
Yaron Levy
Peter Devaney Flanagan

Michael Jai White (John “Falcon” Chapman)
Neal McDonough (Manny Ridley)
Laila Ali (Cindy Chapman)
Lateef Crowder (Carlo Bororo)
Masashi Odate (Hirimoto)
Jimmy Navarro (Thiago Silva)
Hazuki Kato (Tomoe)
Millie Ruperto (Katerina Da’Silva)

Ernie Barbarash, the director of Assassination Games and Pound of Flesh, teams up with martial arts actor Michael Jai White for an exciting thriller that could set up a potential franchise.

Ex-Marine John “Falcon” Chapman is a man who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He spends his days drinking and at times, seeing if it is his time to go. When he gets a visit from his sister Cindy, he is worried about her job as a social worker for a non-profit organization. She works in the poverty-stricken favelas of Brazil. John soon learns that his worry has become a reality.

When Cindy is found barely alive on the rocks behind the favela, U.S. Consulate Manny Ridley learns about the incident by lead detective Thiago Santos. When John gets word of what has happened, he heads to Brazil, where it is revealed he and Ridley are old friends from their days in the Marines. John is given permission to assist with the case. However, as he gets closer to finding out who almost killed his sister, leads as well as innocent victims are killed. John soon learns that his stumbled among something and now, he must figure out the connection and take on all those who stand in his way.

Director Ernie Barbarash has made a name for himself in the action industry as a great director. While he has worked primarily with Jean-Claude Van Damme, this film is, like his others, combines a really good story and fast-paced action. This film, written by Y.T. Parazi, adds the element of the tortured hero. In this case, the lead character of John Chapman suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is seen in the action sequences when Chapman fights his way or a critical scene shows flashbacks from the mind of our hero.

It is great to see actor Neal McDonough in a role where he doesn’t play a villain. It is safe to say he has no ulterior motives here and serves as not only the U.S. Consulate. He is also a friend of Chapman. Laila Ali spends most of the film in the hospital as the battered Cindy despite having a decent opening scene with White. Jimmy Navarro and Lateef Crowder play two Brazilian detectives who assist with the case and they pull it off well. It is safe to mention that the villains are the Yakuza and the introduction of boss Hirimoto, played by Masashi Odate, plays it off quite nicely.

Kung Fu Cinema favorite Larnell Stovall took charge of the action sequences and fight scenes here. Once again, he has proven why he is one of top names in action directing today. To give fans a glimpse of what to expect from White, they introduce him in a small fight against some liquor store robbers. The rest of the action is set in Brazil and those expecting Crowder to pull off his capoeira moves will not be disappointed. Even look for white taking on multiple opponents at once a few times and they are nicely executed thanks to Stovall’s stunning choreography. It is clear that from this and the Never Back Down sequels, White and Stovall are a winning team in terms of providing quality action.

The start of a potential franchise, Falcon Rising is an exciting film from director Ernie Barbarash. Michael Jai White busts not only in action, but gives a driven performance as the tortured John Chapman. Definitely a great action film to check out, whether rental, on demand, or even wait for a DVD/Blu-Ray. Here’s hoping that we see this Falcon in more adventures.