Archive for the Steven Seagal Category

Review: Half Past Dead (2002)

Posted in Mike Moller, Steven Seagal, Xin Xin Xiong with tags , on October 16, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Steven Seagal, Ja Rule, Morris Chestnut, Nia Peeples

Fight Choreographer: Xin Xin Xiong

Directed by Don Michael Paul

Another film in the era I’ll name the Seagalissance: those films in the early 2000’s that use a particular formula to try and resurrect Seagal’s-about-to-go-to-DTV-purgatory-forever-career, namely teaming Seagal up with a rapper and kicking ass while DMX is “grrrrr-ing” with the background music.

So how does Half Past Dead fit into the Seagalissance (TM)?

Steven Seagal plays the awesomely action-hero-named Sascha (um…) an undercover CIA operative who is hunting the Russian crime boss who killed his wife years ago. He works as a gun for hire through his pal Nick (Ja Rule) when both men are captured and thrown into Alcatraz. While there the execution of a powerful crime lord is about to take place, and once he dies, the secrets to where he hid millions of dollars in gold dies with him. Of course a group of terrorists are going to make sure he doesn’t die before giving up the location of the gold, and stage an invasion of the prison led by 49er One (Chestnut). Sacha is able to escape and goes about the business of killing a whole lot of people Die-Hard style in order to stop 49er One from succeeding…

Um…yeah. I’m not going to lie, this film is pretty bad. The formula that worked for Exit Wounds is really tired and stale here, starting with the nonsensical story, which starts by offering up this revenge Sascha need to have with the Russian mafia, but then completely discards it, as if they thought “we’ll pick this up in the sequel”. Which of course will never happen, so the first few minutes of the film is a waste. It could’ve saved about 15 minutes by simply starting in the prison. The bad guys and their plan is not well though out, and they basically bungle their way into giving Sacha a chance to defeat them. The acting is bad, particularly on Seagal, who by this time is having issues even when he’s trying to play himself. Ja Rule is actually playing himself–or maybe no one told him this wasn’t a sequel to The Fast and The Furious--but either way he’s a really bad actor who needs to stick to rap music. Nia Peeples is wasted in this film and barely does anything, as her stunt performers do most of the work, and Chestnut isn’t convincing at all as a bad guy. This film screams “we owed someone a favor” all over it, especially with the extended cameo of the A-Team and Greatest American Hero ( along with most of the best TV shows of the 80’s) creator Steven J. Cannell as a government official.

The fight scenes are nothing much to write home about, the best martial arts scene is a duel between Seagal and their computer hacker, which would be be great if not for Seagal himself, and the quick cuts and tight edits of their hand to hand, which is a shame with the fight choreography of Xin Xin Xiong (Clubfoot from Once Upon A Time In China!) driving the film. Why they edited the film the way they did made me wonder why they brought such a talent into this project.

Outside of some great work from Mike Moller (a talent far better than this film deserved) this Die Hard rip off is one of the worse of Seagal’s filmography, and if you know most of those films, that is really saying something. The best thing this film did was finally kick Seagal to DTV hell forever, with the exception of Machete.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: (can I do negatives? No? Ok) 1

This film has no redeeming value whatsoever. Please feel free to watch water boil or paint dry. It’s a better usage of your time.

 

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Review: Hard To Kill (1990)

Posted in Steven Seagal with tags , on April 28, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

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):

The camera’s not going any lower. This isn’t a Van Damme film, ya’ll!

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.

Review: Above The Law (1988)

Posted in Steven Seagal with tags , on January 13, 2017 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring: Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Henry Silva, Sharon Stone

Fight Choreography by Steven Seagal

Directed by Andrew Davis

In 1988  martial arts films were going strong, with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh ruling the roost. And in the USA we had…an aging Chuck Norris. And that was it. When would another martial artist step forward for America? Enter two films: Bloodsport and Above the Law, the latter of which introduced the world to the martial arts style Aikido and its practitioner, Steven Seagal.

Steven Seagal plays Nico Toscani, a Chicago cop who used to be special forces CIA who got sick of it after witnessing a man being tortured by maniac CIA operative Zagon (Silva) and quits in the middle of the op, because in the 80s you could do that. Now a detective along with his partner Jax (Grier) he gets involved in a drug ring run by Zagon and a group of CIA operatives who are plotting to kill a US Senator who is investigating their clandestine operations (whew!). But when they go after Nico’s family and church, Nico dispenses his own brand of street justice, because as he says “you think you’re above the law. but you ain’t above mine.” Hell yeah 80’s action!

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This film not only made Seagal an action star, but also cemented the style of films he would make: small scale urban justice films, not unlike the Death Wish movies. Seagal is pretty one-note here but does have that elusive on screen charisma. Henry Silvia is, well, Henry Silvia, an always dependable actor when you need a baddie you can hiss at. Pam Grier is okay but she needed to be more than the “put-upon” partner as well as the woman that needs to be protected despite the fact she’s a cop too. This is Pam god****mn Grier. She’ll deliver your dick in a jar to your girlfriend. Surely she could have been presented as more that what she was. Sharon Stone is also in the film in a small role as Nico’s wife, but she doesn’t do much except spending the film trying to get Nico to give up, which means she’s and incredibly annoying character whenever she’s on screen. Andrew Davis does a great job directing here, and his future films Under Siege and The Fugitive would further cement him as a solid film director.

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The opening scene, where Seagal shows off how Aikido works in a dojo is one of the best fight scenes in the film. It really does a great job showing audiences not familiar with the style a little of how it works. The next best fight scene is later in the film, where Seagal takes on a group of thugs in a grocery mart. You can tell the floors are rubber, and many of the moves shown in the beginning are repeated here, but now in a practical setting, but it’s still good. The one thing I didn’t like that will become a staple of many of his movies is that Seagal never fights anyone of a similar skillset, so there is no real challenge. Henry Silva basically gets what I call Getting Seagaled (TM): where the bad guy gets beaten and tossed around like a rag doll, not providing any challenge to the hero whatsoever and dies easily.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A good film that shows off the style of Aikido well and gives a strong introduction to a new action hero, and would become a template for the majority of the films in his career. Pam Grier is wasted here, however.

Production begins on Steven Seagal’s newest film, “Code of Honor”!

Posted in Steven Seagal on March 11, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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LOS ANGELES, March 10, 2015 – Premiere Entertainment Group is pleased to announce that production has commenced in Salt Lake City, Utah for the highly-anticipated action/thriller

CODE OF HONOR.  The film is written and directed by Michael Winnick (Guns, Girls and Gambling) and stars Steven Seagal (Under Siege), Craig Sheffer (A River Runs Through It) and Helena Mattsson (Iron Man 2).

“We’re excited to bring this action-packed film together under the direction of Michael Winnick,” said Ryan Noto, President of Premiere Entertainment.  “Steven Seagal has huge worldwide appeal, and we’re confident that this film will generate word of mouth among fans and general audiences alike.”

CODE OF HONOR is the story of a special forces colonel who has recently returned back home from the middle east after going on terminal leave. He quickly realizes his home town has disintegrated into a violent degenerate world run by murderers and narco-terrorists.  After little deliberation he decides to covertly enter the shadow world and do what he does best. Almost no one can stop him, but an old teammate tries.

CODE OF HONOR is being produced by Premiere Entertainment’s Noto and CEO Elias Axume.