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The Seagull Chronicles: DTV Era Vol. I – ManlyMovie

The Seagull Chronicles: DTV Era Vol. I

I am a Steven Seagal fan. The man is an action movie legend and rightfully so. During his prime he churned out some truly amazing action movies and what made them timeless was the man himself: Seagal. His look was unique, tall and dark with ethnicity no one could quite pinpoint. His demeanour reeked coolness and he had a quietly smoothing but threatening voice. Above all what distinguished him from others was his style of combat, aikido. It was a martial arts style no one really did on film and was thus quite unknown and Seagal performed it with hard-hitting manner that made his action movies more brutal than anyone else’s at the time.

However we all know the joke that Seagal has become since his heyday. Not only has his films dropped exponentially in quality the man himself did so as well. Hardly putting any work to his films with others dubbing over his voice and using stunt doubles to do half of his action scenes, Seagal has lost the reputation he once had due to his legit badass persona and 7th dan black belt in aikido. What has fuelled his downwards spiral even further are his public scandals namely being charged with numerous cases of sexual harassment (those charges have been dismissed since), letting himself get seriously overweight and numerous rumors of his egoistic persona on film sets and general douchebaggery.

Thus we have what will be known through history as: The Seagull Chronicles. In the first instalment of said chronicles Manly Movie will be taking a look at Steven Seagal’s career after it had left the theatres and landed in the the straight-to-DVD movie market. Since there is no point in beating dead horses, reviewing these movies feels pointless as we all know that the content doesn’t withstand the gaze of a critical eye. What I’ve opted to do instead is I will give some quick and general thoughts in more of a stream-of-consciousness style scribbling’s. Let’s dive in and have ourselves a Seagal-a-Thon.

Half Past Dead

Okay, I’m detracting already as this movie was the last Seagal film to see a theatre release in the USA (until Machete) but if you’ve seen this you know why this doesn’t differ from that DTV quality. So here we have a movie where Seagal is a completely useless character to the plot for almost the entire movie and has quite little screen time for being the main character. Dudes take over a prison to find out where a death row inmate hid a ton of gold before getting caught, unfortunate for the dudes, Steven Seagal is in the prison.
Seagal does all his lines still but in his (few) action scenes half of the cuts go to a stunt double and much of the action is peppered with unnecessarily acrobatic conclusions undoubtedly done by the director with the stunt men once Seagal had left the set. This film is also PG-13 which severely cripples what action is meant to be in a Seagal film, there is no bone breaking or blood and the gun play is boring with hardly anyone getting shot as all we see is sparks coming from the ricocheting bullets. There are a couple explosions and Seagal does lay the beat down on one henchman that was somewhat entertaining but surprisingly the best part of this film is the villains’ right hand woman played by Nia Peebles who does a hammy role as a heinous chick who likes to kick ass. Ja Rule, Morris Chestnut & Kurupt are in side roles as annoying black people. Overall I’d say this movie makes its way to the ‘so bad it is entertaining’ -side of the plate.


The Foreigner

We are thrown straight into the middle of the story without any kind of set up for this movie and soon we have numerous people chasing each other, a package being delivered and intercepted, Seagals dad’s funeral, a huge exposition monologue that goes to biochemical weaponry and business fronts and crashed airplanes from the past decade and I still have no clue to what the plot is and who these people are. At this point I know I should just stop watching and forget about doing this Seagal-a-Thon but what can I say, I’m a masochist. The Seagull isn’t slacking too much, there is only modest use of dubbing and stunt doubles. Stevie even gets his scene of hinted intercourse with a woman who is one 8th of his size and young enough to be his granddaughter.
Why every bit of action is just so completely failed is beyond me. I must give an example of this, in one scene Seagal throws a guy in a staircase and this one move lasts 9 seconds as it is entirely in slow motion like all the action in this movie. As soon as Seagal starts to perform this move a thuddingly loud and generic techno beat starts to play (like in every action scene in this movie) and I shit you not as there is 18 cuts during this 9 second bit where you have only one move! Once the guy hits the floor the music and slo-mo go away and suddenly it is as if the movie stops having a seizure. Why can’t you film the action like you film the talking? It would be much better that way! Still, the film isn’t all bad. There are some really cool camera shots and explosions and some bits of action – despite the rape in the editing room – are somewhat bearable. It’s still a horrible movie and I can name 900 movies that are better but it’s not on THE bottom of the barrel.


Out For A Kill

Seagal returns under the direction of Michael Oblowitz, the man behind The Foreigner, for his second adventure into the wonderful world of DTV movies and where do I even begin? For one, The Seagull is apparently playing an expert archaeologist and his mullet is going wild, it is as if it was stuck in a toaster so apparently no one working on the hair in the production of this movie. A good portion of Steve’s dialogue is done in post in a recording booth but it sounds like the man himself, just more bored than usually. Also he uses very little stunt doubles for the fights but they are almost entirely sped-up or slowed down with either pushing the camera far too close or cutting the action at a hectic pace.
At least we see blood and bones being crushed not to mention female nudity so not all is lost. We have terrible green screen backdrops and horrid over directing with pointless scenes, little to no logic to the characters and a story so muddled I had no idea what was happening for the most of the movie (but it wasn’t as hard to keep with as The Foreigner). There is hilarity to be had though and some entertaining action bits but overall this movie is bad despite a large and constant presence from the fatman.


Out Of Reach

What the hell is going on with the mullet?! Geez that thing has a life of its own. Thankfully Steven has the good sense to tuck his mullet under his mullet (wait, what?!) after the opening. Seagal is a former government operative, now living a quiet life in the wilds saving injured animals (he loves this set-up for most of his movies) and writing letters to a teenage orphan in Poland. Conveniently enough his former employers from the CSA (I have no idea what it is, with some googling I came up with ‘Canadian Space Agency’) show up and try to kill him for reasons unknown so he kicks their asses and decides to go and visit his orphan friend. Meanwhile the orphanage turns out to be a front for human traffickers so Seagulls friend gets taken away but she knows the art of coded messaging from the letters she got from him so she leaves clues as to her whereabouts.
This movie is a bit lighter on the action, there aren’t many scenes of that but doubles still have plenty of work even for scenes where the camera is fairly close and in front of “Seagal”. When Steve did show up on the set on time was for the scenes at the brothel where there are plenty of shots you could use a double but I guess Seagal insisted on being there that day. What is in full effect is the dubbing, as easily half if not more of Seagals dialogue has been dubbed by someone who sounds like John St. John, now that is what I call comedy gold. Despite all that this film isn’t over stylized or over directed nor there is use of bad CGI and green screens and while I can’t say the film is well made it’s not horrible which is always a big positive when that is pretty much all you expect from these. Overall the film had enough unintentional humor and legitimate good stuff for me to chalk it up to the watchable movies.


Now that just about all the Seagal I can handle for one article but the man is an infinite fountain of hilarity so until the next serving of The Chronicles you can keep yourself occupied by trying to figure out if “anybody seen Richie”.