Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Sea of C-Level Steven Seagal (part 2 of 2)

Welcome back to our second part of the Steven Seagal email takedown. In case you weren’t here for part 1 this whole business started over an email my buddy Chris sent to myself, Craig and Steve about a Seagal “retrospective.” That initial message led to a rather lengthy and hilarious back and forth between the four of us on what precisely constituted “legit” Seagal cinema. The exchange went on for quite some time—so long, in fact, that I had to break up the publication of same into two posts to avoid audience fatigue.

So after Steve, Chris and I basically schooled Craig on the best Seagal flicks, the conversation continued herein as Chris went out and bought some old-school Seagal Blu-rays and proceeded to introduce his girlfriend to those gems of early-90s cinema. (Poor Craig was a good sport about being jibed.)

Here, now, is the continuation of that chain:

From: Chris
To: Eric, Steve, Craig
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 10:08 AM

While Craig was forcing his fiancee to watch "Loves of a Blonde" my girlfriend and I were watching "Above the Law."

My quick review... unbiased from all previous email threads... and also I don't remember this one that well... since if I saw it it was 20 years ago at 1am at Eric's house on VHS on a 15inch TV with bad picture.

First of all, the BluRay looks great. The picture quality is outstanding. It looks like a new movie. The set up is great... there's a background about aikido with some great real pictures of Seagal training in Japan. Then the opening that sets him up as an ex-CIA guy before becoming a Chicago cop is legit. Then it falls into a pretty conventional, but well crafted cop movie. What makes it stand out from your average cop movie is.... you guessed it... Steven FUCKING Seagal. He beats the shit out of a lot of dudes in a way (bone-breaking aikido) that you've never seen before. His moves are legit and you buy it when this lanky dude beats the shit out of giant dudes. It's obvious why this movie launched his career and eventually led to the big budget Seagal movies... he just has a screen presences and a unique brand of action.

The Andrew Davis direction (Under Siege, The Fugitive) gives the movie a grounded reality and holds it from straying into over-the-top or ridiculous. And since it's the first Seagal movie it doesn't have to top a previous one.

All-in-all a solid movie. [Girlfriend] and I both enjoyed it. Also... last words... the Chicago setting works great as a backdrop. All the random bit part actors talk like the Superfans from SNL... and that really helps give it the movie some color and make it work on the legit filmmaking (not so bad it's good) level.

From Steve:
Sat, Jun 21, 2014 03:26 PM

They only get better.

And then they get worse. Way worse.

From Chris:
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 09:56 AM

Hey Guys,

"Hard to Kill" is not on Netflix, so I had to skip to "Marked for Death." It's a super entertaining tight action pic at 90 minutes. One of the best villains you can imagine. A really smart story direction that I don't want to reveal... since Craigy hasn't seen it.

It's got some solid bone-breaking action... a cool chase sequence... and a high action-to-plot ratio. Plus the longer ponytail looks better on Steven than the short one he wore in "Above the Law."

All that being said... "Above the Law" works better as a "real" movie." The character actors coloring in the Chicago setting and the Andrew Davis direction makes that one a grounded cop movie. This one... yeah... over-the-fucking-top. But super fun! So I guess it depends on your preference or what type of movie you're in the mood for. And it's really easy to see how his movies progress... getting move violent and over-the-top as they go on... then he reaches his personal best (like a long distance runner) with "Under Siege" that hits on all levels... action... one liners... hot chick... solid supporting cast with Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones. Then it's all shite from there.


P.S. Craig - have you even seen Under Siege? Tommy Lee Jones should've got an Oscar for that one!!

From EFA:
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 01:45 PM

Tommy Lee Jones' supremely awesome line in Under Siege:
"My, my, my, how hell doth quicken the spirit!"

I thought it was Shakespeare or something, but all of my research points to it being nothing but a quote from that flick. I can't help but wonder if it was in the script or if TLJ spontaneously came up with it on his own.

Either way, it's a bitchin' line!

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 09:49 AM
RE: Out for Justice

Awesome. The most violent of the three I've watched. (Hard to Kill is hard to find on DVD... may require an Amazon purchase.) Although light on plot... it may actually be the best of the three I've watched. Once I find a copy of Hard to Kill I'll send my Seagal Top 5...

William Forsythe is great villain. The Brooklyn setting adds a lot of character... like Chicago did for Above the Law. But this one has something special... it was made by the masterful hands of John Flynn (Rolling Thunder.) There are moments of violence in this movie that just make you smile...

From Eric:
Mon, Jun 30, 2014 02:59 PM

I still prefer Hard to Kill as the "quintessential" Seagal flick. It's been years since I last saw OFJ but I'll give it a spin again.

From Steve:
Mon, Jun 30, 2014 03:06 PM

i'm most familiar with Hard To Kill since it's ramdomly on TV more often and would be hard pressed to name an actual fave between that, Marked for Death and Justice. They all have their strong suits.

EFA here: While I was raised a Catholic, my buddy Craig takes Catholicism and moviewatching to a whole other level. Unsurprisingly, he is a huge fan of Bergman and basically any film that dares to broach the theological question of man’s relationship to the divine. Through that prism he often colors his view on a film’s individual value—it’s what he uniquely brings to his own viewing experience, which makes it that much richer for him and for us as his friends. Hence why Chris and I started pointing out the overly overt Catholic symbolism of Seagal’s early work, wherein he is at once a Charlie Churchgoer and a badass motherfucker who breaks mofos’ limbs six ways from Sunday mass.

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 03:11 PM

I strongly suggest everyone revisit "Out for Justice." There are a few moments... one in particular that are so brutally violent... yet so enjoyable...The dad story is amazing!!!

By the way... Craig would really like all these films. He's super catholic in Above the Law & Out for Justice. [He] takes confession... does the sign of the cross a few times. Above the Law has that bomb in the church bit. Don't think On Deadly Ground has any Catholic iconography... just some weird Inuit vision quest stuff...

From Eric:
Mon, Jun 30, 2014 03:33 PM

Marked for Death also has the confession scene within the first 15 minutes!!! [LINK] Seagal is undercover and wastes a bunch of mofos, but then a prostitute shoots his partner and Stevie, not realizing the assassin was in fact a woman, shoots her several times through a wall. The revelation that he iced someone with a vagina sends him into guilt and despair...and straight into the confessional booth.

Craig, seriously, get on this!

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 03:44 PM

Seagal don't do drugs. Seagal don't like dudes that beat up on woman. And Seagal... don't believe in the American justice system. If you're guilty... you're not going to get arrested... you're going to get dead!

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 03:45 PM


Wed, Jul 02, 2014 12:01 AM

Almost spent $12 for Hard to Kill on BluRay. Got this instead.  $4 for 4 Seagal flicks. Best 4 bucks you can spend. That's only $2 per-watchable one.

Sent from my iPhone

From EFA:
Wed, Jul 02, 2014 03:43 PM

You can give Craig your copy of On Deadly Ground.

From Chris:
Wed, Jul 02, 2014 04:02 PM

Or snap it in half!

EFA again: In my daytime capacity as an editor with The Washington Times, I recently came upon a story about our pal Seagal getting uninvited from a folk festival in Estonia (????) due to his outspoken support for one Vladimir Pou-tine.

You just can’t make this shit up. (Well, some have accused my employers of making shit up, but that’s another story.)

Also, I included our buddy Sam in this exchange. He also grew up with me and Steve and Chris and spent many a weekend night watching action movies and playing classic 8-bit Nintendo all night long.

My last word: Steve chimes in and once again and provides the gold. I’m lucky to have such funny and intelligent friends about!

From Eric:
To: Craig, Chris, Steve & Sam
RE: Steven Seagal was kicked out of...Estonia????

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 3:48 PM


From: Sam
To: Eric, Steve, Chris, Craig
Mon, Jul 21, 2014 01:28 PM

a dickhead to the last.

still loved him in "Attack Force" tho

From Steve
Mon, Jul 21, 2014 02:09 PM

I don't know where to start with this.

Ok, maybe I do. Let's just pretend that you're an Estonian blues musician, and you're excited to go play at an Estonian Blues Festival. Pretty cool, huh?

Now imagine that they've booked bloated, has-been Hollywood performer Steven Seagal to be the headliner and that you're essentially opening up for this asshole. Politics aside, I'd be pretty pissed.

Now imagine that he's saying Putin, Estonia's biggest threat to national sovereignty and strong contender for world's biggest piece-of-shit, is one pretty cool dude.

I guess I'd call for some sort of boycott too.

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