(NIGHTSTREAM 2020) FILM REVIEW: THE DOORMAN channels the spirit of Die Hard to deliver an action packed heist film with a solid emotional core.


Ruby Rose plays an ex-soldier with a tortured past looking to reconnect with her family when a small cadre of art thieves takes over the high rise where she is starting her life over.

The everyman hero is a staple of the action film genre. Just a seemingly everyday layperson; from a cook on a Navy ship in Under Siege to a cop visiting his wife for her holiday party in Los Angeles in Die Hard. These blue-collar heroes tend to have extraordinary backgrounds and are just trying to get back on their feet when circumstances outside their control force them to use their background skillset at peak efficiency to save their friends or family. It’s a tried-and-true formula in action films and it is one that comes into play in the latest film from famed Japanese cult director Ryuhei Kitamura, THE DOORMAN, which opens on demand on 10/9 and debuts at the Nightstream Film Festival on October 8th.

In THE DOORMAN, Ruby Rose plays Alli, a former Marine liaison to an ambassador and her daughter. Alli has a close, almost familial, relationship with both, but when tragedy strikes that relationship in the course of her duty, Alli takes some time away and comes back home to New York and meets up with her Uncle Pat (Philip Whitchurch) who tells her there is an opening in the luxury apartment building he works for a doorman. After meeting with the building’s superintendent, Boris (Aksel Hennie), Alli gets the job and starts to befriend some of the building’s tenants. Boris hires her on but is planning some renovations, so he urges her to take the weekend off as they’re having the bulk of these renovations done then. As Alli carries on with her duties, she finds unexpectedly that her brother-in-law Jon (Hellboy’s Rupert Evans) lives in the building as well, with her nephew Max (Julien Feder) and her niece Lily (Kila Lord Cassidy), since the death of their mother. As she reconnects with them, she plans to have a special dinner with them over the weekend. However, it turns out Boris has a hidden agenda and is working with a recently released convict named Victor Dubois (Jean Reno) to find a stash of hidden art Dubois hid in the building — specifically, in the apartment where Alli’s family now lives. It then becomes a race to protect her family and her brother from Boris and Dubois, as well as the cadre of art thieves and mercenaries they have working for them as they seize the building.

On the surface, THE DOORMAN sounds a lot like UNDER SIEGE meets DIE HARD. It’s not hard to see that comparison. However, it’s Kitamura’s directing and the film’s stuntwork team that set it apart from those influences. This film has some really great action and stunt setpieces that really draw you in to see what is going to happen. On top of that, Rose’s Alli has a solid emotional journey and helps her family come together after their mother’s death as well as reconnect in the wake of the siege of their home. Notably, Feder’s Max has a great arc as he gets over his anger to accept his aunt’s presence in their lives. Reno’s Dubois has a presence whenever he’s onscreen, but, at this point, it comes across onscreen as if he is physically limited by his age and he doesn’t do much more than lend gravitas to the affair. It’s Hennie’s Boris that really serves as the physical antagonist of the film and his presence as a villain is both frightening and magnetic at the same time. He serves as an excellent antagonist to Rose’s Alli and the film’s casting really works in terms of finding some unique voices we haven’t really sene before like Hennie and Hideaki Ito, who also serves asn antagonist working for Reno’s Dubois.

THE DOORMAN is a fun action thriller in the vein of UNDER SIEGE and DIE HARD, with excellent martial arts-based action sequences and directing. For fans of John Wick and other one person against all odds movies, you’ll dig it as will fans of Kitamura’s other films.

– 3 out of 5 stars
An action-packed return to form for Ryuhei Kitamura, with an excellent lead performance from Ruby Rose.