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A lavish party is turned into a hostage situation when a master criminal attempts to steal a fortune located in the building. Unknown to him and his team, however, there’s a highly trained lawman among the guests. And he’ll stop at nothing to protect his estranged family. Die Hard? No, Hard Night Falling, the latest Dolph Lundgren vehicle. Can it help redeem what hasn’t been a good year for him?

After a bust gone wrong due to interdepartmental communication issues, Michael Anderson (Dolph Lundgren, Dead Trigger, Black Water) heads to a lavish party at the estate of Giuliano Rossini (Mario Opinato). His wife Mary (Sinne Mutsaers, Flight To Hell) and daughter Dianna (Chiara Arrigoni) are dubious he’ll actually show up, though.

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He does show up, but so does Goro (Hal Yamanouchi, Wolverine, Phantom Of Death) and his crew. It seems there’s a fortune in gold hidden on the property, and he intends to take it. Alone and badly outnumbered and outgunned, Mike has to take on overwhelming odds to save his family.

Hard Night Falling is indeed Die Hard in a mansion. Missing combinations, hostages executed one by one, it’s all there. Just on a much lower budget, too low for convincing explosions, unfortunately. At one point, it looks like they used sparklers to simulate an off-screen blast. If your budget is that low, you’re probably better off just cutting the scene entirely. The film’s other big explosion is of the more traditional bad CGI variety.

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There are some good action scenes in Hard Night Falling, but there’s also several where it’s so dark I couldn’t tell what was going on. This is especially true in the final act. Dolph manages to call his team in to help him out, and there are plenty of outdoor scenes. Having to half-ass an explosion is bad. But not being able to afford to light is something I expect from a shot in the backyard camcorder film, not a film headlining Dolph Lundgren. One starring Steven Segal, yes, Lundgren usually has higher standards though.

Unlike several of his recent films, Lundgren earns his star billing here. He is the star, not merely making an extended cameo. And that’s what saves Hard Night Falling. He handles his fight scenes well and does the best he can with some awful dialogue. He’s worked with writer Giorgio Serafini several times before. He’s written and/or directed four of his films, most notably on Blood Of Redemption. Director Giorgio Bruno’s credits are mostly as a producer, and that might be what he wants to stick to.

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While better than the likes of Acceleration and Female Fight Club, Hard Night Falling still never rises much above watchable. As much as I hate to say it, if this is what he’s being offered now, maybe Dolph should have let his major studio return with Aquaman and Creed II be his exit. I mean, what better way to go out than a great return to the role that made him a star?

Hard Night Falling is available on streaming and DVD via Lionsgate.

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