The Kung Fu Korner
I remember reading about Michael Jai White working on a few new martial arts projects and seeing pictures from a movie called Favela. The picture showed him fighting two opponents. The one thing that stood out was a man in dreads who was on one hand evading a kick. You could probably have guessed that the man he was fighting was none other than Lateef Crowder, the famous Capoeira practitioner known for being the human incarnation of Eddy Gordo. After seeing that picture, I was locked in. And from that moment on, I impatiently waited for the movie that would later be called Falcon Rising.
Falcon Rising is about John “Falcon” Chapman (Michael Jai White). He’s an ex-Marine that’s suffering from PTSD. With the help of his friend, US Consulate Manny Ridley (Neal McDonough), John travels to Brazil to seek out the people responsible for putting his sister, Cindy (Laila Ali), in the hospital. In his quest for revenge, John fights off gangs within the Favelas, crooked cops, and the Yakuza, while discovering the truth behind his sister’s attack.
Yes, this is the typical action revenge movie; and yes, there are clichés aplenty. However, this movie is pretty good and very entertaining. The acting was good and the pacing wasn’t bad. There was a point where you got to see a liquor store robbery that shows off the main character’s skills, flashbacks of the war he fought in that continues to haunt him in his present, and an attempted suicide scene.
Let me tell you about these fight scenes, though. The fight scenes are very well shot. The scenes aren’t shot in weird, unnecessary angles. THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO SHAKY CAM. Larnell Stovall did a great job with the fight choreography in this movie. The punches and kicks connect. It’s not flashy with people doing unnecessary moves just for show. (Although, you could argue about the inclusion of Capoiera, but I digress…) The fight scenes are very gritty and that’s what I’ve always appreciated about Stovall’s choreography. Even if he adds flips or some high-flying kicks, they are always used in a way that actually have a place in the fight.
I can’t say there weren’t parts in the movie that made me say, “C’mon Son”, but it’s an action movie so that feeling comes with the territory. My only real issue isn’t with the movie itself. It’s with Michael Jai White and Lateef Crowder. WHY AREN’T THEY DOING MORE ACTION MOVIES? Granted, Michael Jai White has Skin Trade, co-starring Tony Jaa, coming out next year, and Lateef Crowder just came off of Tekken (a terrible movie; he and Gary Daniels were the only two even close to their characters’ looks and fighting style), but I want to see more of them. I want to see Lateef in more lead roles instead of him being a supporting character, though this was a bigger role than in other movies I’ve seen him in.
I will definitely get it on BluRay when it comes out October 27. I am looking forward to seeing where they take this being that there is a sequel in the works and they are trying to push this as a franchise. I think this franchise, should it maintain its positive momentum, can do nothing but help Michael Jai White ascend to the top tier of martial arts actors. And it should also help push Lateef Crowder into the forefront of this newer generation of martial arts actors we’re seeing, hopefully gaining him the attention he deserves.