Bullet Points: Black Rose
While it is natural to compare bodybuilder turned action star Alexander Nevsky to Arnold Schwarzenegger, I think it may be more accurate to compare Nevsky to Jackie Chan.
Alexander Nevsky is an A-List box office heavyweight in his native Russia. But here in the United States, Nevsky has yet to break through and really become a major player in Hollywood. This is something Jackie Chan experienced after several failed attempts to make a name for himself in Hollywood after years of being a box office sensation in his native Hong Kong.
Jackie Chan eventually made it big in Hollywood with movies like Rumble in the Bronx and the Rush Hour franchise. Will Alexander Nevsky be able to do the same? Time will tell, but Black Rose was a step in the right direction…
- Ripped From The Headlines: Our movie begins as a Russian “working girl” living in Los Angeles is abducted and brutally murdered. We learn this is the fifth murder of its kind, where a Russian girl is found dead with a black rose left on their body. The press is having an absolute field day with this story and doing so at the expense of the LAPD. Captain Frank Dalano (Robert Davi) is feeling the heat, so he decides to do something radical and reach out to the police in Moscow and ask them for some assistance. Dalano believes a Russian cop may be better able to investigate the murders that all have ties to Mother Russia. This decision does not sit well with the detective assigned to the string of murders, Matt Robinson (Adrian Paul of Dead Men Can’t Dance fame). But despite Robinson’s protests Captain Dalano reaches out to his peers in the Russian law enforcement community.
- Bank Job: We are introduced to our hero Vladimir Kazatov (Alexander Nevsky) as he is speeding towards the scene of bank robbery in Moscow. Several masked men have entered the bank and have made their presence felt instantly by shooting a security guard and generally scaring the crap out of everyone inside. The ring leader of this armed robbery is played by the one and only Matthias Hues (Fists of Iron). Hues is credited as the Black Mask Killer, but he actually rips the mask off after a minute or two. After one of the tellers hits the alarm, Hues straight up shoots her. After the cops arrive he demands an armored car to be provided so he and his accomplices can escape, if the authorities don’t comply with his demands he’ll shoot one hostage every three minutes, and to show he means business he shoots one of the hostages right in front of the Moscow police. And that’s about the time Kazatov shows up, completely ignoring the orders from the commanding officer on the scene, Kazatov tries to reason with Hues’ character. Kazatov offers to stay and be the hostage if the innocent civilians are released… Hues responds by grabbing a young girl and deeming her the next to die if he doesn’t get his armored car. Kazatov walks back outside, gets in an SUV and drives it right into the bank… then he shoots all the armed robbers. Yes folks, maverick cops aren’t just in America anymore.
- Allied Powers: As you might imagine, after the bank incident Kazatov’s superiors are more than happy to acquiesce to Captain Dalano’s request and send Kazatov to Los Angeles. Kazatov is greeted at the airport by the man assigned to be his partner while in Los Angeles, Detective Antonio Banuelos. The partnership does not last long however… Antonio quickly decides he wants nothing to do with the Russian cop after Kazatov manages to kill one perp and cripple another while preventing a woman from being mugged. Dalano then assigns Emily Smith (Kristanna Loken of Bounty Killer fame), a criminal profiler to be Kazatov’s new partner. The two hit it off and soon the dynamic duo pay a visit to a Russian bakery in the area where they learn that Russian girls are being brought to the United States to be mail order brides. The entire operation is run out of the Black Sea Club and that is the next stop for Kazatov and Smith.
- The Hunters or The Hunted?: As Kazatov and Smith begin to make progress on their investigation, Emily Smith becomes a target of the serial killer and his mind games. This wrinkle added another level of danger to the story and allowed Loken’s character to shine as a true blue tough chick, showing no fear despite the fact that a man who has brutally murdered multiple women is now after her. At this point in the movie, the action took a back seat to the mystery. Normally the action in a movie taking a back seat is something I would frown upon… but I’ll admit I was hooked at this point and wanted to see if my own amateur detective skills would prove to be correct.
Black Rose was touted as a throw back to the golden era of action films and I believe Black Rose lived up to those claims. Nevsky surrounded himself with some extremely talented action movie veterans. Black Rose had some over the top moments one would expect from a golden era action flick and the bits of humor that were so often sprinkled in.
And now for the Bonus Bullet Points that I always like to sprinkle in…
- If You Ever: …wanted to hear Kristanna Loken talk like a valley girl, then this is the movie for you.
- Worst Drink Ever: While Kazatov is stopping a mugging in progress, his short lived partner Banuelos is picking them up some tofu seaweed alfalfa smoothies… which has to be the worst drink concoction ever conceived.
- Introducing: Speaking of drinks, Sandra, the bartender at the Black Sea Club, was played by Oksana Sidorenko. Oksana got the “and introducing” credit as Black Rose was her first feature film.
- Character Quirk: Vladimir Kazatov only drinks orange juice and has zero interest in Russian vodka. I believe this is another example of Nevsky never wanting to portray Russian stereotypes in his movies.
- If You Ever: …wanted to watch Robert Davi host a slide presentation on famous serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, then this is the movie for you.
- ICYMI: I had the good fortune of conducting interviews with some of the stars of Black Rose including Matthias Hues, Kristanna Loken and Alexander Nevsky.