Review: Marked for Death (1990)


Starring Steven Seagal, Keith David, Basil Wallace

Fight Choreography by Steven Seagal

Directed by Dwight H. Little

With Marked for Death, aside from being yet another Steven Seagal Film with 3 syllables ( a film streak that wouldn’t be broken until Under Seige) we get a film that has a slightly (if not extremely stereotypical) different flavor, as Seagal takes on Jamaican Drug lords. But this film has something that none of his other film have ever had. A weapon of extreme power and can turn any film into gold bricks. A weapon that can take the most mundane film and turn it into something watchable, and turn a decent film into a pretty good one…

KEITH DAVID.

I should end my review here as you don’t need to know anything more than that, but someone told me that would be lazy, so…

Steven Seagal stars as John Hatcher, an undercover DEA agent who, after a drug bust that while successful, gets his partner fatally shot (never mind that Hatcher actually caused this himself by some boneheadedly stupid decisions) and thus is tride and true Seagal filsm, he’s now EX-DEA. He returns home to his family and finds out that he neighborhood has been overrun with drugs, primarily being sold to kids by the Jamaican drug dealer led by the infamous Screwface (Basil Wallace). After Hatcher’s niece is seriously injured in a drive-by Hatcher partners up with his pal Max (Keith David) and a local undercover Jamaican expert Charles,  Hatcher embarks on a mission to wipe out the Jamaican gangs once and for all…

Of course this is a silly premise, but it’s also cool, with crazy voodoo and a pretty good twist in the film revolving around Screwface, who turns out to be probably one of Seagal’s best onscreen villains. He holds to his belief system, but isn’t without his tricks once Hatcher seems to have the advantage over him. Basil Wallace does a great job as Screwface, oozing menace and has a weird yet cool charisma. Seagal is pretty much the same character he always is, acting with the same scowl he always has. Now, Keith David brings the real charisma, and I could see a different version of this film where he is the badass taking out Jamaican drug dealers, which just sounds so cool when you say that premise out loud. The film itself is directed…ok…but nothing special to acting or approach or cinematography.

The fights are shot well, and the choreography isn’t anything you haven’t already seen in any other Seagal film, but it’s clean and good for what it is. The final fight offers more than most Seagal films, as Screwface doesn’t get Seagaled like so many main baddies in his films. This time Basil Wallace is able to toss Seagal around a bit, and of course Seagal kills him like three times at the end, but Wallace is able to give as good as he gets…for a bit.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

One of my favorite Seagal films, after Above the Law, but it showed that the Seagal formula would need a quick upgrade, which for one film it got…but hell you have Keith David, so that’s enough to watch!

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