Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura
Written by: Lior Chefetz, Joe Swanson
Starring: Ruby Rose, Jean Reno, Aksel Hennie, Louis Mandylor, Dan Southworth, Hideaki Ito, David Sakurai
Running time: 97mins
BBFC Classification: 15
While it doesn’t quite live up to its blistering trailer, cool concept and Ryuhei Kitamura’s previous action efforts, The Doorman is a lot of B-movie fun and more entertaining than you may have heard from elsewhere on the internet. Ruby Rose plays Ali, a former special forces solider returning home to the States after a job in Romania saw most of her team slaughtered. Still dealing with the fallout of her mission, her kindly uncle hooks her up with job as a doorman at the hotel Carrington. Yet, no sooner has she started than the hotel is besieged by Jean Reno and his gang of would-be terrorists, hell-bent of finding a fortune hidden somewhere within the hotel’s walls. Trapped inside the hotel and with her brother-in-law and his family also residing there and put in harms ways, it’s up to Ali to take up arms and save the hotel.
Comparisons to Die Hard are inevitable and as a B-movie, female led version of that action juggernaut, it kinda works. However, there’s a bit more going on than just being another Die Hard clone and while it’s often scrappy and shlocky, The Doorman uses it’s setting well to deliver some satisfying action thrills. Rose (again, despite what you may have read elsewhere on the net!) is good as the lead, shares good chemistry with the kid characters she must protect, and gets to kick-butt in several hard-edge action scenes. Jean Reno is good value as the big bad (though is obviously just collecting a pay cheque!) and Aksel Hennie makes for a formidable right-hand man to Reno and foe for Rose. Great to see genre stalwarts Louis Mandylor and Dan Southworth pop up also (though Southworth should have got a bigger and longer fight, as the dude can cut the moves!) and Rose gets a great fight when she takes on both Hideaki Ito and David Sakurai: Kitamura flexing his action skills.
However, Kitamura does unfortunately cut the action a little close in some of the scenes (presumably to hide stunt doubles!), which is frustrating for us action fans who like clean cut action and it’s a pity, as there is some sharp choreography on display (from action ace Simon Rhee, and Southworth!). Kitamura also can’t quite hide the fact that the film, despite being set in New York, is not taking place in New York with some sloppy CGI not really making for a convincing NY. It would have also been nice to see Rose’s character work as a doorman for a bit longer to give more of a sense of the doorman protecting the hotel (like the title suggests!), as she is in her role for all of one scene before the action kicks off. Yet, once the story switches to the hotel setting, sets up the family dynamics and embraces its pulpy vibe, The Doorman is a fun ride.
While not reaching the heights of Kitamura’s cult favourites such as Versus and Azumi or his ace action-horror hybrid No One Lives, The Doorman is still a decent pulpy B-action picture with enough sharp action and interesting characters to carry it through its limitations.
I dug it.
The Doorman is available on Digital Download 18 January and DVD 25 January 2021 from Lionsgate UK.
In Service of Others: Reflections of the Cast – short featurette with the cast talking about what attracted them to the project: mainly all of them, in typical cliched manner, saying the film is not all about action but about character (character, character!!), while clips of the action scenes play over them talking about character! Ugh! However, the cast do comment on how international and inclusive the crew are which is refreshing to hear and a positive note to end on.