Ha ha, it’s Burl to talk about that rascal Steven Seagal! There’s something sort of nasty and unlikeable about that guy and the persona he’s crafted over the years, don’t you think, despite the environmentalism and Zen? Doing his show where he patrols for illegal immigrants really just sort of confirmed it for ol’ Burl! And yet I’m kind of fascinated with his early movie work, back when they were still playing in movie theaters for at least a little while before assembling on the video shelves!
It’s hard to choose which is the absolute most typical Seagal film of that era, Hard To Kill or Marked For Death! They each have the three-word titles, after all, though it might be argued that they lack the environmental angle of On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below and are therefore not true reflections of the man! Well, whatever! Ha ha, I’m going to go with Marked For Death as the most typical, but I’m still reviewing Hard To Kill for you today!
The story was actually all laid out on the poster as I recall! Seagal is Mason Storm, a rectilinear cop who manages to record the dirty goods on slimy politician Bill Sadler, fresh from his bad-guy role in Die Hard 2! Ha ha, then he and his family are attacked by masked, gun-toting marauders and apparently killed! But Storm is not killed, merely knocked into a seven-year coma! His survival is kept secret by a cop friend who is, both temperamentally and facially, rather canine! Ha ha, he’s like a big, floppy, friendly dog, and it’s sad because you know in a movie like this he’s probably going to get it! (I can’t actually remember right now if he does or not, even though I just saw the movie the other night!)
Storm wakes up with a hilarious beard that made me say ha ha, and finds himself in the care of a sexy nurse, Kelly Le Brock from Weird Science! Of course he can’t move much, but when an assassin comes for him, he rows his gurney to safety using a mop! Pretty soon he’s fighting fit again, and ready to take his revenge! Well, there’s some limb-twisting chop-socky and some gunplay, though not all that much of either, and eventually the trail leads to Sadler’s mansion, where there is a climax and of course a famous reference to the blood bank!
Well, critically speaking there’s not much to say! The movie is dumb and often dull, but compelling in the way such movies can sometimes be! Seagal pays lip service to the Eastern mysticism he frequently cites as his inspiration, but he doesn’t get goofy enough with it as in movies like The Glimmer Man! And it’s not as gory as Marked For Death, which is disappointing – it’s amazing how much a little tomato paste can liven up a movie like this!
It’s slick, sleepy action, a product of its precise time and star and no other, and for that, and in spite of its many faults and few identifiable virtues, I give Hard To Kill one and a half Oscar night celebrations!