Let’s hear it for the Italian shitty movie industry. Decades-long and still going strong, when one has a yen for a ripoff of one’s favorite Hollywood action flicks, look no further than Italy.
Today’s shitty Italian ripoff is Hard Night Falling, from 2019. Dolph Lundgren plays Michael Anderson, an Interpol agent who is meeting his wife and daughter (Sinne Mutsaers and Chiara Arrigoni) at a villa owned by businessman Frank (Andrea Scarduzio), during a swanky dinner party. Things are a bit rocky in the Anderson household, and it has been many years since Michael has seen his daughter.
What has Michael been getting up to in all that time? He has been leading a crack team of Interpol investigators who infiltrate illegal arms dealing rings and then kick some ass. John McClain never had that kind of backstory.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Frank is part of an international cabal that has stored a valuable cache of rare coins beneath Frank’s villa, as a hedge against the collapse of global finance. Three keys are needed to open this secret vault, and it just so happens that those in possession of all three keys are at the villa for the dinner party.
That is when Hans….oops, I mean Goro (Hal Yamanouchi), comes onto the scene, leading a band of black-clad and hooded mercenaries. They take everyone at the villa hostage, and demand that Frank open the vault so they may abscond with the treasure. Michael manages to steal away as the hostage situation begins, and it’s up to him to sneak about the villa and save the day. The plot really is lifted straight from Die Hard. And that’s okay.
This is a cheap direct-to-video action flick. Anyone who watches this should not be expecting originality. A flick like this is all about the action. And, if one is like me, the poor filmmaking. There is plenty of both!
Most of the action is of the gunfight variety. Dolph is a tall guy and he doesn’t move like he used to, so most of the hand-to-hand stuff is done by Emma (former Bolshoi and Royal Ballet School student Natalie Burn), one of the members of Michael’s team. She gets very stabby.
The gunfights are by rote, but that’s not their worst offense. Rather, it’s the CGI blood spatters. If there is one thing I hate about modern shitty action flicks, it’s CGI blood spatters. I have yet to see a film in which they are used where the effect is believable. In this flick, the blood spatters have the same color as a can of Dr. Pepper, and they’re so flat they all look as if they’re about six inches in front of the actors. Have the cost of squibs really gone up that much? Are today’s shitty filmmakers that cost-conscious? Or is CGI blood just too convenient a technique to ignore? I don’t know, but it sucks. At least crappy CGI explosions, of which this film has a few, offer up some gleeful feelings of schadenfreude. CGI blood is just sloppy.
Director Giorgio Bruno crafted a flick that’s hit and miss. There was only so much that budget and talent would allow, but there are a few spots where he showed a deft touch. Most of the hard work of the plot was done decades earlier, so Bruno and company get no points, there. In fact, a little more shameless thievery would have served this film well. There are filler scenes with Michael’s wife performing kitchen surgery on a gunshot victim that do nothing but add to the running time. Why not more ass-kicking or gunfights? This is a Dolph Lundgren action flick. It’s not like we viewers care about anything else.
There are worse ways to scratch one’s bad movie itch, but that doesn’t stop Hard Night Falling from landing in the bottom half of the Watchability Index. It takes over the #202 spot from The Stuff.