House of the Rising Sun (2011) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Ray is an ex-con and former cop now working as the doorman at a sleazy strip club called ‘The Rising Sun’. The owners of whom are two mafia figures, each with hidden agendas that become increasingly murky as the picture proceeds through its convoluted story. On a busy night the joint is held up in a violent robbery that results in the death of a young man. Things get complicated when Ray (WWE superstar Dave Bautista) is set up as the fall guy and has only a few days to prove himself innocent while tracking down the thieves and the stolen cash.

House of the Rising Sun has about twice as much plot than is necessary for this type of action film. It is based on a novel of the same name by author Chuck Hustmyre here also credited as co-writer on the screenplay. Scenes feel overly jammed with information and exposition in an attempt to get across a lot of story in a condensed time. The film has a nice early 1990’s guilty pleasure factor in the league of Road House or Stone Cold. Director Brian A. Miller infuses the picture with a cold hard edge courtesy of some fantastic location shooting in icy Michigan. Miller’s style is reminecesent of Andrew Davis’s work on Above the Law, each film features a lead actor more known for there physicality than acting, both are set in the frost bitten cites of the mid west and each deals with an overly complicated story far too ambitious for its own good.

For a movie starring a wrestler there is surprisingly very little action throughout. I’m not sure why Dave Bautista was cast in the role other than for his name value but he comes off well here. I wasn’t expecting much from the hulking presence known simply as Bautista in the world of WWE, his cro-magnum features are offset by a quiet yet authoritative delivery that is refreshing and honest. He may not be the best actor to emerge from the world of staged sports entertainment but he looks damn menacing when smoking a cigarette. Prison Break star Dominic Purcell is the best thing in House of the Rising Sun if simply because he plays his role with an appropriate amount of over-the top theatrics that the film could have used more of.

There are many enjoyable moments throughout the film yet ultimately the entire thing collapses under the weight of its over-wrought screenplay. Although I must admit I did enjoy the daring decision to end the film on a downbeat note. It’s hard to think who’ll enjoy this film. Hardcore fans will be disappointed in the lack of action and viewers looking for a crime-drama aren’t likely to take a chance on one starring a man known to millions as Bautista. House of the Rising Sun is a respectable picture with aspirations to reach a level that most straight-to-dvd films never achieve and for that it gets my recommendation.

Director: Brian A. Miller
Stars: Dave Bautista, Dominic Purcell, Danny Trejo

2 thoughts on “House of the Rising Sun (2011) – Review

  1. I may have been too forgiving on this one. I hadn’t seen Bautista before this and was impressed that he took a role that required more acting than fighting. He was vaguely reminiscent of ‘The Rock’ in his underplaying the part. I was expecting something on the level of those UFC saturated fight flicks currently clogging Redboxes around the country the change of pace here was a welcomed surprise.

  2. I totally agreed that the lack of action and bad plot killed this thing, but I don’t think I would’ve even given it 2 and 1/2 stars. When I see Bautista on the cover, I want a dude driving around on a motorcycle beating the crap out of people, not a poorly made noir-ish thriller sauteed in wrong sauce.

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