This seems to be the week in Hong Kong for once well-respected actors to throw their hard-earned reputations into the dumpster and opt for the paycheque instead. Joining Robert De Niro (THE WAR WITH GRANDPA) in this unillustrious category is Jean Reno, who plays an erudite art thief in highly derivative film, THE DOORMAN.
After surviving an unexplained attack that kills the US Deputy Chief of Mission in Bulgaria, marine sergeant Ali Gorsky (Ruby Rose, THE MEG; JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2; TV’s BATWOMAN) leaves the service and returns home to New York City. To help her get over her PTSD, her uncle gets her a job working as a doorman at an upscale Manhattan apartment. The building is undergoing extensive renovation and all the residents have moved out – all except an elderly couple who live on the first floor, and a young widower and his two kids who live on the 10th. No sooner has Ali put on her surprisingly well-fitting uniform for someone who must be all of 5’6″ and weighing 110 pounds on a heavy day, then a group of well-armed thieves led by the suave Victor Dubois (Reno, LÉON: THE PROFESSIONAL) arrives over the Easter holiday looking for some pricey artwork that has been hidden inside the walls of the building for thirty years. Now Ali has to use all her military training to save the building’s few residents, some of whom just happen to be her family.
A weapons-experienced loner battles with a foreign adversary and his heavily armed gang who take over a high rise over a holiday weekend intending to break into a vault that contains valuable merchandise. In the process they take hostages that include the loner’s family. Now where have we seen that before? Yes, this is a shameless rip off of the first DIE HARD film right down to the fire alarm scene and the use of a dumbwaiter shaft instead of an elevator shaft. But Ruby Rose is no Bruce Willis. Even though the featherweight Australian actress is an amateur boxer, her fight choreography skills are risible. Director Ryûhei Kitamura/北村 龍平 (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) must have realised this during filming and instead resorts to quick cuts, bad lighting and shaky camerawork to hide her ineptness. When even those tools didn’t work, he brought in a stunt actor who, if you watch carefully, doesn’t even look like the actress.
Perhaps even worse than the acting and directing is the script or, as one of my colleagues says, “script”. Written by Lior Chefetz and Joe Swanson, who collaborated on the 2019 Israeli film SKY RAIDERS, the pair seemingly doesn’t know anything about American culture. What family gets together to celebrate Easter over dinner? Xmas, yes. Thanksgiving, for sure. But Easter? But even that contrivance pales in lameness compared to some of the lines that Reno is forced to say. My audience was in stitches. And why did Dubois’ gang bring along assault weapons when they thought the building would be empty? Finally, let’s talk about the film’s title. Aren’t they called by the gender-neutral name of “concierge” now?
In a pre-pandemic world, THE DOORMAN would have gone directly to DVD. In this world, it opens in Hong Kong’s cinemas today (October 22). THE DOORMAN is easily one of the dumbest films you’ll see this year.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, October 23rd, 8:30 am HK time!
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