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REVIEW: Attrition (2018) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Attrition (2018)

Run Time: 87 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: Probably Seagal’s best movie since Exit Wounds, multiple big effort Seagal fights

Steven Seagal has called this his best movie in 20 years.  That’s probably an admission that most of his stuff in the 21st century hasn’t been too good.  To be the best he has done in 20 years, it would have to be better than Exit Wounds (it isn’t), but it’s probably better than anything since then, or at least level with any other DTV he has done.  Maximum Conviction or Half Past Dead are in the same league, but the point is, more effort than usual has been put into Attrition.

In southeast Asia, opium drug lord Qmom (Kang Yu) has his henchmen shake down a local pissant, and for his life he reveals the location of a mysterious woman with healing powers, Tara (Ting Sue).  As Qmom is a bit of a hermit with eye trouble, restraining him from daylight, he orders the girl kidnapped from her quiet village.  But elsewhere in the village is the elder Axe (Steven Seagal), leading the quiet life as a healer and running from a life of war fighting.  When Axe denies Tara’s frail father’s request to rescue the girl, the old man declares he will do it himself, which forces Axe to act through honor, recruit his old team and lead the charge.

Most people might think that Steven Seagal is barely in this movie, it’s just how it goes these days with guys like him and Bruce Willis.  But as a passion project which he was going to direct himself at one point (it’s not directed by Mathieu Weschler, but still written by Seagal), clearly more effort has been put into this movie than the usual VOD effort.  Seagal is the main attraction and for instance appears in no less than four major fights in the movie.  Each of these (and the other fights too) are filmed clearly and are honestly quite fun, Seagal (not a double) smashing a sex trafficker through a wall using a Mortal Kombat-style move is more than satisfying for example.

While the film has great cinematography and ‘theatrical’-tier lighting, it is hugely let down by the special effects.  There are CGI muzzle flashes, but worse is the CGI blood.  I think it’s the worst I’ve ever seen actually, almost like it may have even been done using over the counter software like Adobe After Effects.  And given that the film is quite violent, this is really unavoidable.  Elsewhere, Seagal’s team aren’t too fleshed out either, none of the other characters are come to think of it.  Rudy Youngblood (the hero in Apocalypto) plays ‘Infidel’, but his talents are pretty much wasted.

‘Attrition’ has its own publicity photography

On the upside, people looking for Seagalism won’t be disappointed.  I love how a topless (but of course…) angel comes to Seagal in his dreams, and prepares him mentally to do battle again.  I love how a muscle-bound thug demands a random fight to the death one day on the street, which The Master obliges, defeats the assailant who then falls to his knees in awe and pleads to become a student of the Sensei, who of course obliges again.  Another thing that will stick in my memory is Seagal cutting off the villain’s arm (at the shoulder) with a sword, then slitting his throat, or how Seagal and his team smash their way into a random room in a building with partying civilians and rake the place with automatic gunfire, despite trying to channel a theme of honor throughout.

So yes, if you’re into wanton Seagalism, the movie is for you, but for everyone else I would suggest proceeding with caution… it has a low budget, but may surprise you.  I mean Seagal is acting too, really acting.