Friday, August 17, 2012


Now that Van Damme is in the Expendables that makes Steven Seagal the #1 missing link in the ensemble cast. To emphasize how much his presence is missing from the Expendables, Matt Reddick is back with a Seagal double feature.


Out For Justice                                                                                  Marked For Death
Cheers, welcome to my first Steven Seagal movie! Seriously, I never saw one. I chose this at random. I did finish it but it seemed to slow to a crawl. I never really got into this and I started to drift off and wonder how such a simple movie can become a bad one. The plot was stretched out way to long. It basically comes down to a 90 minute chase scene. Revenge for adultery, really? It does have a few interesting elements, such as Dominic Chianese (aka “Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano”) and Jerry “don’t-bullshit-him!” Orbach. Gina Gershon gets a shout-out here as well. Seagal has an obvious weakness with acting, so I am confused as to why he decided to do an Eye-talian meathead. No offense to Italian-Americans, but is there anything easier to mock than a mobster/wiseguy? Youfuckinkiddinme?! To make it worse, he has WAY too much dialogue. It takes away from the urgency. William Forsythe, a personal favorite, was hard to watch. He just can’t pull off a mobster, especially one who is a psychotic crackhead. His fight last way longer than it should. I really just shook my head at how sloppy a movie can become. Most of the fight scenes had too many close-ups and it made the action look slower.

Bummer: 1.5/5

Marked for Death is a much more balanced and effective film that works well within its genre limitations. Or you could say it kicks ass with the other yet-to-be-nicknamed style of action movies from the 90s. It’s excellently paced with solid direction and editing. The opening scene (featuring Danny Trejo with a face still rough but not scarred yet) sets the tone of the film: gunfire, chases and karate. Half naked women and a pretty decent soundtrack also compliment the movie and present it as a snapshot of the times. It may be anecdotal, but I seem to remember seeing more porn stars in cameos back around this time (a tradition that I insist must be continued). I also remember enjoying soundtracks to movies I never saw or even heard of, featuring all different styles (such as Heaven’s Prisoners, Escape from L.A., Fresh (IIRC not one song was played in the movie!)). I haven’t really followed current music, so this could still be going on. An OST that features Mellow Man Ace, Tone Loc, Shabba Ranks, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff (performing as well) is outstanding. As for porn stars, I spotted Teri Weigel coking around with an arms dealer then scampering as the fighting breaks out (is there any other way for a porn star to exit?)To review the narrative, glossing over some details is acceptable. It doesn’t slow the story down too much by not explaining how the heroes transport heavy firearms into Jamaica or what was going on with a trap the villains set up. The latter scene involves Seagal being stopped by a road construction crew. Apparently they knew he would be pissed and go around, right into the waiting arms of a garbage truck and a frontloader! It still turns into a mildly suspenseful scene. Stupid movies become bad ones when they slow down. I barely had to check my watch to get a sense of where the movie was going, which is another strong point. There are a couple great car chase scenes as well, with a Ram Charger facing off against a BMW. I feel I have to bring up Seagal’s acting since it seems to be a criticism from most people. He was almost a total blank but I barely noticed his efforts. I’m not sure whether that’s good or not. I have to admit to being distracted by his face, since it looks like it was drawn by a MAD magazine artist. The standard requirement of one-liners was filled and there was only one WTF: “You can’t shoot me, I’m a made man!/ Only god made man.” There are no other Christian religious references, thankfully. That does lead me to another theme of the movie- ethnic exoticism. Santeria and Jamaican voodoo are featured heavily but only briefly described. I was worried at first that it would turn into a tour of those Others and exploit their culture. It seemed more an embellishment of the gang. As an option to show some balance, there is an undercover Jamaican cop who joins with them and an interesting introduction to downtown Kingston. Shot on location, it shows the two black characters investigating the gang leader’s location. There is also a news reporter and a disclaimer at the end explaining that gangs only make up about 1% of the Jamaican population, as a way of apologizing.

Overall, 3/5 but a great choice for action movie buffs.

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