If you missed the limited theatrical release of Falcon Rising starring Michael Jai White, it’s streaming on Netflix and available for purchase elsewhere.
Fans of martial arts action, with the departure of the golden B-Movie days of Chuck Norris, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan, relatively few martial artists have held onto the big screen long enough to make a lasting impression. (Donnie Yuen being perhaps the exception that proves the rule, but he has one foot forever planted in the wire-fu Kung Fu cinema that hasn’t held as much sway in America at large as the more realistic, unaugmented presentations mentioned above. Tony Jaa is skilled but doesn’t produce much.) American martial artist Michael Jai White has stepped up with a promising B-movie franchise called Falcon.
Mr. White is a lifelong martial artist turned actor. As an artist he stands in that 30-45 age range that combines the peak combination of training and physical ability. Younger kids may be flashier, and older fighters may be wilier, but there is something about a mature and strong artist with efficient technique that the energy-wasting kids and the age-limited elders can’t present. Michael White got into Karate as a kid instead of getting into gangs, drugs, crime, or apathy, and now he has turned the art that helped shape his life into an art-form that pleases many.
Falcon Rising will please many fans of the retired Mr. Norris, as the plot lines and action sequences follow similar paths. A loner bad-ass is prompted to act, and act he does, let random drug dealers, street thugs, and crime syndicates beware.
Unlike other martial arts stars in the past 15 years who have presented two or three films before life experience or tragedy struck, Mr. White has worked hard to present a series of action films. He’s worked his way up in the industry since the early 1990’s, and he has starred in some excellent eye-pleasing martial arts flicks as Black Dynamite and Blood and Bone.
If you are a true fan of martial arts, you will be pleased to see stunt-man and Capoeira practitioner Lateef Crowder in his supporting role as the muscle in the local cop duo. Mr. Crowder has never failed to impress with his technique and presentation, and this film is no exception. A tireless stuntman whose credits show more behind-the-scenes work than starring roles, Lateef Crowder, like Mr. White, is The Real Deal and that is always a pleasure to see on screen.
NOT appearing in Falcon Rising: gratuitous sex scenes, endless swearing, mounds of artificial cleavage, and splashy gore. This film hits where Walker: Texas Ranger and several other beloved action franchises eventually reached.
I enjoyed Falcon Rising‘s refusal to dig into race poltics or the self-loathing Western flagellation over colonialism/post-colonialism/American Exceptionalism/other political -isms. People are people, and that allows the film to achieve the sort of unconscious acceptance that Social Justice Warriors will never successfully legislate, or buy into the America-is-perfect-always idolatry on the other side of the political spectrum.
Professional critics are never going to go in for this sort of action movie, not the least reason being that Mr. White refuses to grab a political flag to wear in place of his undies, but fans of good old fashioned action should enjoy this straight forward Kung Fu opera offering!