Best know for genre films such as Versus, Midnight Meat Train, and even Godzilla: Final Wars, Ryûhei Kitamura makes the move to DTV action film with The Doorman. We know he can mix action scenes into a horror film and he did helm the samurai film Azumi. But can he pull off a contemporary action film? One that could be called Die Hard in a Townhouse?
Ali (Ruby Rose, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Batwoman) was a Marine at the US embassy in Romania until a bloody ambush left her with PTSD. Back in NYC her Uncle Pat (Philip Whitchurch, Interview With a Hitman) gets her a job at the luxury high-rise apartment complex he works at as a doorman. It’s going to be empty over the Easter holidays for renovation work. Things get complicated when she finds out her deceased sister’s husband Jon (Rupert Evans, Tank 432, The Canal) and kids live in the building.
It gets even more complicated when Victor Dubois (Jean Reno, Léon: The Professional, Brothers of the Wind), Martinez (Louis Mandylor, The Mercenary, Doom: Annihilation), and the rest of their crew seize the building in order to steal priceless artwork hidden in the walls.
Shot in Romania with stock footage of New York City clumsily edited in, The Doorman is a disappointingly average film. The script by Lior Chefetz, Joe Swanson, and Devon Rose is the main problem. It’s a generic collection of clichés, and that applies to both the plot and the fight scenes. Take your pick which you’ve seen more. A fight scene involving scaffolding, an electrical cable, and a swimming pool. The hero having once had an affair with someone important to the plot. In this case, her sisters’ husband.
Kitamura does what he can with the action scenes. The ambush that opens the film is well done and had me hoping for the best. Unfortunately, after that, there really isn’t much that gives him a chance to show off his skills. There’s a rooftop fight that isn’t too bad. But it’s shot against an obvious green-screen background which ruins it.
There’s also not much of the director’s trademark gore in The Doorman. About as nasty as it gets is an improvised nail bomb, and even that’s pretty tame. I was hoping for action backed up with some horror style bloodletting. I didn’t get it.
In her first leading film role, Rose does a good job in a role originally meant for Katie Holmes. She’s convincing in her fight scenes, and her final showdown with Borz (Aksel Hennie, The Cloverfield Paradox, Hercules) is decent. Of course, it’s always good to see Reno, even when he doesn’t have much to do.
If, like me, you watch this expecting a Kitamura film you’ll be disappointed. There are no real traces of his style and talent in The Doorman. I’m guessing he was brought on as a director for hire, (he’s not even mentioned on the poster), handed the script, and told to deliver a typical Walmart rack filler. And if that’s what you’re watching it for, it should satisfy you.
The Doorman will be available On Demand and Digital October 9, and on Blu-ray and DVD October 13 from Lionsgate.