Serial killer is going after Russian women in Los Angeles, leaving a trail of corpses with a black rose each. To help solve the case, the LAPD brings in a Russian Major who has cultural knowledge that could help the case. Along the way, the lead on the case becomes at risk as the killer becomes bolder.
Written by Brent Huff and George Saunders, the film is directed by its star Alexander Nevsky. Black Rose is a fairly by the book police action film. So much so that it feels right out of the late 80s, early 90s, think something that would have starred Dolph Lundgren back in the day. It feels like those films of yesteryears yet it does not feel like it is trying to emulate them. It simply looks to have been created the way it is not trying to create nostalgia or trying to homage directly. It all feels like it belongs on the shelf with all the best/worst actioners of the era. The story here is simple, a serial killer needs to get caught, the local police need outside help, outside help doesn’t quite fit in, funny situations and serious ones ensue. Somehow, this film manages to catch the feelings of the era without feeling like it’s trying too hard.
The cast is led by director Alexander Nevsky as the Russian Major, Vladimir Kazatov, who arrives in Los Angeles to assist Detective Emily Smith played by Kristanna Loken. The two leads are not as strong actors as they could be but their clumsy and sometimes wooden acting works here. It’s not the worse seen in action films, but it will not win them any awards any time soon either. They do decent work, fitting for the type of film it is. In a smaller part, Adrian Paul hams it up in some of his scenes and does ok in others. The rest of the cast is ok; no real stand-out there, which does give the spotlight to Nevsky and Lokken.
Black Rose not only has the story and acting of an 80s actioner, it has the look and sound of one, thanks to cinematography by Rudy Harbon, editing by Stephen Adrianson, and music by Sean Murray. They are not exactly 80s-style, but they feel right for the film, its story, and the look of things. These two elements bring the film together as a cohesive whole which many wannabe homage films can’t seem to manage no matter how hard they try.
The film is one of those odd ducks in action films that manages to recapture the feeling of a bygone era that so many other filmmakers are trying to do or homage. Black Rose manages it without feeling forced or like that was even the goal. The love of 80s/90s action cinema the filmmakers have is clearly visible down to the murderer once they are revealed. The film is a fun watch for fans of the old Lundgren/VanDamme/Segal, et al. It just is one of those movies with the right type of cheesy humor, the right kind of banter between the leads, etc. The film just feels right and is fun to watch. This is something a lot of current action films seem to have forgotten how to do, in their never-ending quest for gritty, realistic violence. Black Rose feels like one of those films you’d pick up from the “New” shelf at the local video store on a Friday night and watch with friends and a few drinks.