A serial killer in Los Angeles is killing Russian prostitutes, leaving a “black rose” on their tortured bodies. The LAPD is baffled and cannot find any keys to the investigation.
Soon the police chief (Robert Davi) decides to bring in Russian major Vlad Kazatov (Alexander Nevsky), who can help with the investigation and protect the local Russian community.
Vlad teams up with rookie partner Emily Smith (Kristanna Loken) to find the killer. The deeper they get into the investigation, the more bodies start to pile up, and yet it seems like the killer is not who he tries to seem.
“Black Rose” is a joint Russia-US production, and the directorial debut of former Russian bodybuilder-turned-actor Alexander Nevsky. Proclamed the “Russian Schwarzenegger”, Nevsky is still learning the craft, as “Black Rose” is a very small improvement over his “Moscow Heat” (2004), acting wise.
In April of 2013, Nevsky said that the film was originally planned back in 2009, when Brent Huff wrote the original screenplay, which was later re-written by Sheldon Lettich.
Prior to the film’s release, Nevsky claimed the film will have “cool, hard action”, and sadly, that was a bit exaggerated. “Black Rose” is more of a low-budget thriller than a straight-up action film.
To set the tone for the unbreakable Russian major, who does things “his own way”, the film kicks off with a bank heist in Russia, where Major Kazatov is dealing with a group of crooks, led by B-movie legend Matthias Hues, who is again, portraying a ruthless villain. This is one of the few action scenes in the whole film, and those expecting a fight scene between the two giants in Nevsky and Hues will be greatly disappointed.
Nevsky did manage to attract some known actors for the film, however, they’re not given much to work with. Robert Davi has a rather bleak role as the LAPD chief, while Adrian Paul (who also starred with Nevsky in Moscow Heat) settles for the part of a detective, handling the serial killer case from the U.S. side. Nevsky’s real-life wife Oksana Sidorenko plays a bar maid, Sandra. The most vivid of the bunch is Kristanna Loken, who is just as stunning from her “Terminator 3” days.
It can be assumed that a big chunk of the budget (depending on the sources, from $6 to $8 million) went to the actors, as, like previously mentioned, the film has even less action than Nevsky’s “Moscow Heat”.
A good portion of the film is spent on “figuring out who the killer is and why he’s killing poor Russian girls”. When you combine a thin plot, silly dialogue and Nevsky’s acting (instead of action), the outcome is boring, to say the least.
Nevsky has the looks and the tools to do action, which is exactly what he can succeed. Hopefully, he will do so in his next film.
While Russian reviewers had nothing but bad things to say about Nevsky’s directorial debut, the film is not as bad as it may seem. On the other hand, it dares you to wish for more than it can actually offer.
“Black Rose” gives neither surprises nor delivers the promised “action goods”. While a lot of things can be skipped (CGI gun wounds, bad dialogue, thin plot), some things just cannot be. To have people who are known for action, promise action and not deliver it – is a crime. You can still check the film out though. Once.
BZFILM SCALE: 4/10
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