Don’t you just love those early Steven Seagal movie titles? Always 2 or 3 words long and you could put “Steven Seagal is…” in front of it and it would sound cool. Many of us, or at least me, grew up on VHS tapes and as you might recall, they always put trailers of other movies before the main feature. The fun fact is that these trailers were just thrown in randomly, just the recently released movies from that studio. So it was very normal that when you put in a movie that was rated PG that you would get R-rated trailers. You pop in your tape of the Care Bears, here comes a trailer for Hellraiser. Come to think of it; this type of shenanigans is what made my soul go to the darkside. That and simple saturday morning cartoons that were spin-offs of R-rated movies. You watch Rambo or RoboCop the cartoon, everythings fun, you watch the movies because you liked the cartoons; limbs were thrown in your face like snowballs. Man, Hollywood knows how to fuck up the kids. But I’m babbling, back to the trailers, watching a movie like Gremlins (on VHS) you would without a doubt be treated to a trailer of one of Seagals films and they always closed with that deep trailer voice saying: “Steven Seagal is… Hard To Kill” or “Steven Seagal is… Marked For Death“. That was just so cool. Ok, so I was 12 and my worldview wasn’t that evolved yet! Well today I just watched Steven Seagal who is… “Out For Justice”!
From the pre-Under Siege era this one must have the simplest plot of all. It’s basically Hard To Kill without all the coma stuff and Seagal doing this time everything on his own. No Pam Grier or Keith David this time!
Seagal’s cop buddy is slain in broad daylight on the streets by Richie Madano. A mid-levelmobster so high on crack he’s basically a loose cannon who’s gunslinging his way through Brooklyn. Right after killing Bobby Lupo he pops another woman almost randomly. Now this is where the extra-dimension comes in; is he just killing randomly or is he having an agenda? Well forget the extra-dimension as this is just something produced to fill up the movie because there is little substance else. It’s just basically Seagal, with a shotgun in an unmarked, and Richie driving through town, Richie killing a lot of people, and Seagal maiming and killing a lot of people. If you’d strip that from the movie you would get a movie that was 45 minutes long. The other parts consist of Seagal talking to the mob, Richies sister, Richies parent, a waitress, a streetvending kiddo etc. Luckily our ponytailed warrior gets into a fight fairly easy so we’re treated to a lot of bone snapping. These scenes play like a sort of violent ballet; beautiful and bloody. I especially liked how the meatcleaver was handled.
Hmm, now I didn’t mention the dog yet now did I? Early on Seagal sees a man drop something from his car. Quick on the breaks he stops and investigates because that’s what cops do! So he opens the bag and finds a puppy! Now he could bring it to a vet just to make sure it’s ok or bring it home right away. No he puts in the driver seat and starts chasing Richie all over town with the puppy next to him. In one carshase scene Seagal is driving on a really bumpy road and I just felt sorry for the puppy. Thrown out of a car and put into a frickin’ rollercoaster! The puppy disappears halfway through only to reappear at the ending where he/she gets the last laugh… if dogs could laugh of course which is not the case.
People have been talking about Seagals acting, the lack of that is, but I don’t agree. I’m from the Netherlands so I don’t hear if he gets all the accents right but at least he tries. Later on in his career he indeed just started whispering all his lines and having the same stoic look all the time. In these early films he raises his voice, tries on accents, shows emotions and actually laughs. Compared to the other actionstars he wasn’t better or worse and those going into these movies expecting oscar-material should have their heads examined. These guys spent their lifetime in gyms and dojo’s, not theatreclasses! And by the way, everyone in this movie is surpassed by the actingskills of the puppy!
Out For Justice is a fun movie and way better than anything Seagal makes nowadays. I suggest you whatch this instead of trash like “Against The Dark”. Oh and be sure to watch out for small cameos by John Leguizamo and Kane Hodder!