'Black Rose': Film Review
Russian bodybuilder Alexander Nevsky, finding few willing to cast him as an actor, directs a buddy-cop vehicle for himself.
A cross-cultural buddy-cop flick so bottom-of-the-barrel it would've been hooted off screens even when such things were in commercial demand, Black Rose pairs a rookie profiler and a Russian loose cannon on the trail of a serial killer. Viewers noting a surprising lack of charisma on the part of that loose cannon won't be surprised to learn that bodybuilder-turned-actor Alexander Nevsky is also the pic's director and came up with the plot, evidently hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, et al. Judging from this effort, he hasn't got a chance.
The story opens with neither of its stars on hand. Rather, a central-casting detective named Robinson (Adrian Paul) is looking at a crime scene where a slashed-up prostitute has a black rose lodged in her mouth as her killer's calling card. Five dead bodies and no perp, complains the chief (Robert Davi, a character-actor vet of scores of cine-turds), who tells Robinson he's calling in help from Moscow, since all the victims are Russians. A standard detective/chief spat ensues, but then we realize Robinson isn't even being teamed with the new guy; instead, Kristanna Loken's psych specialist Emily Smith will be the Russian's partner. Why has the movie spent this time introducing Robinson? If you haven't guessed by act three, it's likely because you're snoring.
When the film hops to Moscow to introduce its side-of-beef star, there's a brief reason to hope it will be good for laughs if not thrills. During a bank robbery whose thieves seem to wish they were henchmen in Die Hard, cops arrive on the scene and try to negotiate the release of hostages. The big blond ringleader of the group shoots one of the innocents to prove he's not negotiating. The head cop adjusts his tie. Oof. Then Nevsky makes the scene, in an I-mean-business sequence the young man probably daydreamed about for months. "So this is the way you do things in Russia?" an American will later ask him. "No, this is the way I do things."
Nevsky's Major Kazatov gets to Los Angeles, is paired with Smith and sets off investigating the seedier corners of the Russian community there. Clues are found. Soon the Black Rose killer is taunting the detectives, sending them flowers and making threats. One nice thing to say at this point is that the muscle-headed Kazatov never says a dismissive thing to his inexperienced blonde partner; he never seems to feel superior to the little lady. Then again, this is a movie revolving around sadistic murders of prostitutes, so maybe things are a wash on the feminist front.
The dull terribleness continues until it's over, but along the way one soundbite jumps out. Davi's police chief, telling Kazatov how happy he is to have a take-charge crime-fighter working for him at last, complains about "all this bullshit with political correctness" and laments that criminals "have got more rights than the victims these days." If only this dumb thing had been released back when the present administration looked like it wanted to be Vladimir Putin's lapdog, it would be just the thing for Donald Trump's America.
Production companies: Hollywood Storm, Czar Pictures
Distributor: Entertainment One
Cast: Alexander Nevsky, Kristanna Loken, Robert Davi, Adrian Paul, Matthias Hues
Director-producer: Alexander Nevsky
Screenwriter: Brent Huff, George Saunders
Executive producers: Sheldon Lettich, Bryan Goeres, Alexander Izotov, Robert Madrid
Director of photography: Rudy Harbon
Editor: Stephen Adrianson
Composer: Sean Murray
In English and Russian