The seemingly endless stream of Steven Seagal movies continues with the third movie released in 2016: The Asian Connection. After the suckfest that was Sniper: Special Ops and the decent Code Of Honor I did not know what to expect from this flick. The biggest question anybody should have nowadays when picking up a movie that has Steven Seagal on the cover should ask himself is: how much screen time does he actually have. The second question would be: does he even do anything? We have come to a point where movies supposedly starring Steven Seagal don’t actually feature much Steven Seagal. We have even gotten to a point where he sits 90% of the time he is on screen.
The answers are: No and yes.
In The Asian Connection Seagal plays a drug lord with the rather exotic name Sirankiri. He is a supporting character and antagonist to the three main characters: Jack, Sam and Pom. Jack and Sam are two American expatriates who rob banks in Southeast Asia. While Sam is purely in it for the money, Jack is doing it to give him and his love Pom a better life. They unknowingly steal Sirankiri’s money and become the target of his gang’s vengeance.
On paper The Asian Connection looks rather good. It contains several well known names. Next to Seagal there’s Michael Jai White on the credit list and apparently the story has been written by actor Tom Sizemore. This peaked my interest I must admit. Then again, none of these names actually guarantee a quality product. Especially the inclusion of White feels like a marketing ploy. The guy has only one scene which can only be described as a glorified cameo.
So yeah, the actual product does look better on paper. While the story is relatively coherent it falls apart due to the leads of the movie. Sam and Jack are bank robbers who are in it for the money and use violence. I had a hard time rooting for them. The only way bank robbers can be turned into likeable characters is if they are:
- doing it for a good cause like in Hell or High water
- non-violent like George Clooney in Out of Sight
- extremely charismatic like George Clooney in every movie he plays a criminal.
These guys are none of that. They deserved every type of retaliation Sirankiri was planning.
Despite being a supporting character, Seagal actually gets more to do than in both Sniper: Special Ops and Code Of Honor. Every now and then we cut to his character trying to find out who the rat in his organization is and getting into fights. That doesn’t mean he isn’t sitting down anymore, there is still plenty of that. In fact, the opening scene in which he kills a rival drug lord features him sitting in a chair while fending off a henchman. One of the most memorable scenes was the one in which he actually yells. I haven’t seen the weighty whisperer raise his voice in a long time. It really caught me off-guard. As you can tell, my standard for Steven Seagal has been lowered quite a bit.
With better developed characters played by better actors, this could have been a fun B-flick. Sadly it’s not. But hey, at least we got a 64 year old Seagal fucking a barely legal Asian girl once more. It has been a while since we got that. Not something I missed, for that matter. He does learn her martial arts, which is strange considering this character has no further part in this movie. Now that I would like to see: that girl going from prostitute to assassin. The Asian Nikita, with Seagal in the mentor role. I’d buy that for a dollar.