Saturday, 5 April 2008

Steven Seagal: Direct-to-Video Superstar

Steven Seagal, like many of our fine action stars (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Wesley Snipes... um, Dolph Lundgren) has been banished to Direct-to-Video pergatory. In fact, if you've been to your local video store lately you've probably seen a lot of Seagal, albeit more bloated and haggard than you might remember him. Since 2003, Seagal has punched out 13 Direct-to-Video releases. Up to four films a year! That puts him up there with such DTV luminaries as Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Marc Dacascos.

Sure, it's a double fighting most of the time. Hell, sometimes it's a double walking around and looping dialogue in post-production too, but that's not what you're paying for with Seagal. It's the ponytail and the leather trenchcoat. It's the weird Eastern mysticism and the ill-defined conspiracies involving shady government agencies. That's the essence of Seagal.

One thing I love about Steven Seagal's films, especially his early ones, is how blunt and honest the titles of his films are. I mean, you pick up a film like Hard to Kill or Marked for Death, you know exactly what you are going to get. Kind of like that film about reptiles on an aircraft, I can't remember what it was called. He briefly lost it when he started teaming up with rappers in the early 00's (Exit Wounds? Half Past Dead? What the hell?) but now he's back producing films with names like Attack Force and Today You Die. Good, solid action movie titles. But are they good, solid action movies?

The short answer is: Probably not. The long answer is: I've purchased several DTV Steven Seagal films, and I'm going to watch every single one of them (even if it kills me) and post my findings here. To paraphrase Seagal, you can take that to the bank... the blood bank (Hard to Kill, 1990).

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