Twitter Plot Summary: Seagal is a university professor who is wrongly imprisoned following a Chinese cocaine deal. He escapes and seeks revenge. In slow motion.
Director: Michael Oblowitz
Key Cast: Steven Seagal, Michelle Goh, Corey Johnson.
Five Point Summary:
1. Steven Seagal as a university professor archaeologist. If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.
2. Lots of Chinese men in suits sat around a table spouting exposition does not an entertaining film make.
3. CGI thunderstorms look terrible.
4. Green screen = supposedly adequate replacement for just standing outside.
5. Seagal’s old, surely it’s time for him to appear in The Expendables?
Seagal, despite his lack of mainstream success, continues to churn out generic action films on a regular basis. I suppose in some respects it’s better than not getting paid, and there’s obviously a market out there for his films otherwise he wouldn’t be offered work. Now, Seagal making action films (and I use the term loosely) is fine if he brought a little more nuance to his characters. In essence he’s been playing Casey Ryback since he appeared in Under Siege. In fact, I like to play a game where I pretend the ever-whispering Seagal is that character in every subsequent film and has subsequently taken the roll of “world’s unluckiest man” from John McClane.
So, the story. Seagal is a university professor (yeah, right) who is wrongfully imprisoned after a Chinese drug deal goes wrong at the archaeology site where he’s working. Naturally, being the only Westerner there, the authorities immediately assume he’s involved. As the story meanders on, it’s revealed that Seagal was a master thief of Chinese artifacts before he became a university professor. Of course he was.
Almost every action scene featuring Seagal is done in slow motion, likely in an effort to hide his advancing years. The problem with this is that every action scene feels the same as the last one, with the exception of the brief hand-slapping fight he has with one of the bad guys. That appears to either be played at normal speed or it’s been sped-up to once again counter the fact that Seagal was about 50 when the film was made.
Whilst Seagal is running around trying to prove his innocence and seeking his revenge, a bunch of Chinese mafia-types sit around a table dictating what will happen to him next. The fact that we keep cutting back to them throughout the film’s run time is indicative of the quality you’d expect from a post-1992 Seagal film. Yeah, that’ll be everything after Under Siege. Thinking about it, I’ll allow him Machete as well. But everything else – oh dear.
It’s cheap, straight to video tosh that verges on having a story but is just an excuse for Seagal to twist a few arms, slap a few Chinese guys and ultimately get his revenge against the cabal of Chinese guys who never leave their big table. You know exactly how it will end, and you can’t even say it’s an entertaining road to get there. This is easily interchangeable with most of Seagal’s other straight to video releases. Same old nonsense with the same story beats, just a different setting.
Favourite scene: Seagal fighting a strange ratty chap inside a barber shop. The ratty chap can defy the laws of physics (in direct contravention to the reality previously established by the film). I smell wirework.
Quote: “But you made one very big mistake. You touched the most sacred thing in my life. You killed my wife. Now, you force me to dig two graves.”
Silly Moment: A typical Seagal hand-slap fight, this time with 100% less Tommy Lee Jones.