Finally a movie with Michael Jai White (that Black guy) as lead character! It also features Lateef Crowder in a way too minor role for a couple of martial art scenes, along with plenty of other interesting characters.
It starts with a suicidal scene featuring Michael (John 'Falcon' Chapman in the movie) putting a chamber to his temple, and soon one more with him walking into a shop just in time to stop a robbery. As soon as the action really starts, he starts getting flashbacks from Vietnam, horrors of his past... but somehow all of this soon feels very trivial. When he's battling his memories, while people are falling and running for shelter around him, the other people are panicking way more than he is. They'll probably have the same traumas - if not worse. Suddenly, those post-peace nightmares seem very irrelevant, and maybe the director realized this too because soon after: they disappear. As if they were just there to give the character his backstory.
In the midst of this depressing suicidal phase in the main character's life, his sister Cindy cones to visit. Just for a few hours it seems. Then she's back in Brazil, and suddenly she's found badly beaten up at a stony beach below the Favelas, fortunately taken to the hospital, where she lies in a coma unconsciously awaiting further murder attempts. John travels to Brazil (though it's not really mentioned I assume the movie starts on US soil), starts looking for clues, finds one and starts tracing the lead to dangerous places.
The actors aren't all the best, the filmography not always the most captivating, but there are no directly noticeable flaws either. In the end it's a well-made and gritty vendetta in which Michael Jai White gives us a long overdue taste of what he can really do. There's one moment where he's sidestepping one of Lateef's kicks when I am just in total awe. It lasts just a second, but that motion is surreal. Flawless. I'm definitely over hyping that moment now but it caught me by surprise. So swift!
Watching the final fight a second time today it's much more elaborate than I thought late last night, and it's not just one final fight - there's plenty of action. The movie ends with promises of a sequel, but if it never comes, this is a movie I wouldn't mind watching again!
rated 4/5: fo shizzle