Starring Steven Seagal, Kelly Le Brock, William Sadler, Frederick Coffin
Fight Choreography by Steven Seagal
Directed by Bruce Malmuth
Hard to Kill is the second film by at that time the newest action star on the scene (he really came around the same time as JCVD) Steven Seagal, in a film that would without a doubt set the precedent for his “urban” action film output, both for better and for worse.
Seagal plays Mason Storm ( you gotta love his action guy names), a do-it-yourself cop who works alone, who has just gotten a recording that implicates a young senator Vernon Trent (Sadler) making a deal with a local mob. Mason is able to get away, but not before he is seen. Later that night Mason and his family is attacked by a hit team sent by the Senator, and in the ensuing fight his wife is killed, and Mason is shot himself. Mason isn’t dead, though, and seven years later he wakes up from a coma to discover that his son is still alive, being cared for by his commanding officer. Together with a young nurse (LeBrock) Mason goes after everyone involved in his wife’s murder, all the way up to the senator himself…
As an action film Hard to Kill is serviceable but hardly memorable, and not nearly as good as his first film Above the Law. There is more gunplay scenes here but its filmed in an uninspiring way. The acting ranges from great to god-awful, with the always dependable William Sadler bringing the great acting to Kelly LeBrock being the awful one, serving as nothing more than a damsel in distress who needs Mason Storm to save her at every turn. Seagal, is, well, Seagal. He has about one expression on his face, which is a perpetual scowl. He tries to “emote” but really, it’s still a scowl. A very sad scowl.
The actual martial arts scenes here are a disappointment, with many moves taken from his first film, but with much more bone snapping, like this:
Bone-breaking would also become a hallmark of Seagal’s films, and he’s in bone snapping form here. They used a bunch of celery for this one! One of the worst things about Seagal’s films are their stereotypes. If you’re Black you listen to only rap music, and if you aren’t a cop then you’re a pimp. Or drug dealer/gangbanger. Or just some layabout. If you’re Italian you gotta have mob ties, right? And if you’re Hispanic your pretty much a gangster. And if you are his love interest you can’t take care of yourself, aren’t smart enough to handle one or two killers, and of course will fall for Seagal’s winning personality. And his Budda Belly (we’ll save that conversation for another time, but he does wear all black for a reason):
Hard to Kill was modestly budgeted and is considered a hit, but is hardly a good film, and is much more indicative of the films that would comprise the second half of his career. Shoddy acting, a lackluster script and boring fight scenes doom this film to a one-watch-only experience.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 3
Regression is a hell of a thing. Worse still if it’s only your second film. Do yourself a favor and dust off that blu ray or DVD of Above the Law and watch it again.