Cinematic Releases: Black Rose (2017) - Reviewed

Russian superstar and former Mr. Universe, Alexander Nevsky takes his first turn behind the camera with his debut Black Rose, an homage to the '80s fish out of water cop thrillers that approaches its grim subject matter with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Featuring a veritable who's who of lost talent and a “been there, done that” storyline, Black Rose safely coasts within the confines of its straight to cable origins. 

A serial killer is preying on Russian prostitutes in Los Angeles. The hapless police call in a Russian Major to assist with the investigation that takes him and his profiler partner into the grimy underbelly of the City of Stars. Black Rose is a film best watched as an afterthought. The plot is extremely predictable, the action scenes are gleefully painful to sit through, and the chemistry between Nevsky (who also stars as the protagonist) and B movie icon Kristanna Loken is humorously stilted, mimicking the tough guy films that Nevsky clearly holds in high regard. Machismo saturates every scene, emulating the later films of Seagal and Van Damme, right down to the hero using an obnoxiously large firearm. 

Character legend Robert Davi supports as the police captain and his smug grit is one of the few surprises within Black Rose's purposefully clich├ęd nonsense. Adrian Paul (Highlander) plays the departmental rival to Nevsky while Matthias Hues (the alien from I Come in Peace/Dark Angel) has a cameo as a bank robber during a ludicrous introductory action scene. Robert Madrid rounds out the ensemble as a world weary plain clothes detective who is initially partnered with the Major and serves as the conduit for the audience and it is this sensitivity that winds through the laughable narrative and helps Black Rose limp across the trash/trashy fun threshold. Brent Huff and George Saunders' script is packed with eye rolling stereotypes and begins its rehashed story by setting Nevsky up as a sum of inflated concepts rather than a flesh and blood character. However, Nevsky's approach to the material and the outright awful charm of the cast brings quietness to the latter portions of the story that makes most of the ridiculous production decisions forgivable. 

Coming soon to theaters and digital on demand, Black Rose is a film you've seen countless times, however what it represents is vastly more important than its subject matter. Nevsky, who resides in Los Angeles, represents Russia for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Its projects such as these, no matter how puerile, that remind us that art is always an avenue for peace, cooperation, and even some good natured tomfoolery. If you've got 90+ minutes to blow on a mindless, quasi-macho cop procedural or are interested in revisiting the action films from your childhood, Black Rose won't change your life, but it’s an outrageous guilty pleasure.

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-Kyle Jonathan