Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Black Rose: Red Heat Redux for the Putin Era

Sadly, the constant abuse of the media, activists, and politicians has so thoroughly demoralized the LAPD, they will have to import a hard-charging shoot-from-the-hip cop from Russia to stop a serial killer. Since all the victims have been Russian-speaking women, they will have a legitimate excuse to recruit the help of Vladimir Kazatov. Unfortunately, the killer will soon turn his attention towards Kazatov’s pretty American partner in Black Rose (trailer here), directed by Alexander Nevsky (because Ivan the Terrible wasn’t available), which opens this Friday in Los Angeles.

Despite the mounting death toll, the Russian community refuses to talk to the LAPD. Of course, the expats are sure to trust Kazatov, because it’s not like the Russian legal system has a reputation for corruption and oppression. Regardless, he and LAPD profiler Emily Smith quickly establish all the murdered women worked as “hostesses” in an exclusive Russian gentleman’s club.

That ought to be a significant break in the case, but Kazatov still has to sneak around, kicking down doors, sans warrant. Further complicating the investigation, the killer somehow got a hold of Smith’s number and frequently calls to do deep breathing exercises.

Black Rose is the sort of film where the police think the most effective course of action they can take is standing around, having expositional conversations. Aside from the initial Moscow bank robbery sequence, featuring Euro cult favorite Matthias Hues, there just isn’t a lot of action in this action movie. Instead, it relies on the Tracy-and-Hepburn chemistry shared by Nevsky (a bodybuilder-turned-actor, born Alexander Kuritsyn) and Kristanna Loken (from Terminator 3 and BloodRayne). The fact that their endless bantering doesn’t completely collapse into a train wreck is a near miracle.

About the only thing going for Black Rose is a supporting cast chocked full of reliable character actors, including the great Robert Davi, chewing the scenery for all its worth as Captain Frank Dalano. However, it is rather depressing to see the post-Highlander Adrian Paul mope through the film as Matt Robinson, the ineffectual detective yanked off the case.

Nevsky has decent action chops, but with a name like that, he’d darn well better. Loken also deserves credit for gamely soldiering through, but their simplistic investigation holds little interest. We just can’t recommend Black Rose, but we’d be willing to give Nevsky another shot if his subsequent Showdown in Manila (directed by Mark Dacascos) follows it into theaters. That’s the long and the short of it when Black Rose opens this Friday (4/28) in LA at the Laemmle Monica Film Center.