They Started This. He'll Finish It.
Back of DVD:
Action legend Steven Seagal stars as Shane Daniels, an ex-Special Forces operative released from prison after serving six years hard time for a murder he didn't commit. Back on the street, he comes to the rescue of a beautiful young hostage stashed in a car trunk with millions in cash. Wielding a devastating combination of street fighting smarts and martial arts skills, he suddenly finds himself in a deadly showdown with international drug merchants and the local corrupt cops. As the only ones standing between him and his newfound freedom, they're about to discover just how dangerous one man can be in this explosive, wall-to-wall thriller.
This is my 20th review and I thought it fitting to finally bring Steven Seagal into the fold - what with his upcoming return to the big screen in Machete - with his latest direct-to-dvd actioner A Dangerous Man.
It starts with a woman walking to her car at night. She gets in and calls her boyfriend/husband (Seagal, you can tell because he greets her with "Hey baby doll", a classic Seagal greeting). Next thing you know she is being carjacked by a thug. Quick on the scene is Seagal who chases the thug away. The next thing we see is the cops in the morning looking over the dead thugs body and Seagal being interrorgated for the kids murder. As he is ex-special forces it is assumed that he killed him and is convicted and sent away for six years.
The day before his parol hearing Seagal gets a Dear John note from his wife dumping him. He's standing in the rain too, poor guy. He is aquitted of all charges in the hearing because new forensic evidence has proven his innocence, and he is given three hundred thousand dollars by the state as compensation. He politely tells the judge to stuff it as no money can give him his lost years and lost wife back. Go Steve. His first day out he goes to get alcohol (the first thing anyone would do after six years without) and is threatened by two dreggs that want his wallet. They won't take no for an answer so Steve "fucks them up real ugly" (his words) and beats a guy to within an inch of his life with the stripped out insides of a handgun. Believe me, it aint pretty; definitely one of the more brutal Seagal beatings I've ever seen. Seagal covers his tracks by taking the surveillance video from the bottle shop VCR. Something I guess he learned in special forces training.
Seagal flees the scene and ends up at a lookout point somewhere. He drinks his alcohol and has inappropriate thoughts about his ex-wife when he notices a few cars roll up. The first is two young guys out for a good time, the second is a black car with two Chinese guys in it and the third a single cop in a patrol car. The cop pulls the black car over and asks to see the Chinese guy's licence but he pulls the 'me no English' defence so the copper hauls them out and demands they open the boot. In it is a bag of cash and a whole array of guns and before he can react the copper is shot. One of the kids from the first car makes himself known and is also killed. Seagal finally intervenes and kicks the Chinese guys' arses in a medley of punches, kicks, snapped arms and his patented Slap-fu technique. He also explodes a car as a diversion by putting a handkerchief in the petrol inlet and setting it on fire, causing the car to explode. Then finally he shoots the guy. Brutal.
Steven Seagal is quite a heavy set man these days and what he lacks in running ability and light-as-a-feather agility he more than makes up for with his huge presence and wrestling-style punches. When he beats guys in A Dangerous Man you know they really deserved it. There also seems to be far less use of stunt doubles, at least obvious ones, and much more direct Seagal martial arts action. After he's done with kicking arse Steve opens the car boot and finds not only the money and guns but also an unconscious girl. The kid who survived helps Seagal with the girl and they escape in the kids car. Once the girl comes round (her name is Tia) she explains via flashbacks that she had been kidnapped during an illegal immigration meeting with some Chinese guys and crooked cops, and that the cops shot and killed her friends. Apparently she is trying to help get her uncle in from China and these people smugglers were going to help her, but instead they double-crossed her and were going to use her for ransom. If you can't trust people smugglers, who can you trust? She says her father will help Seagal flee the country if he helps her get her uncle.
I've seen a lot of Seagal movies in recent months; in fact I have acquired them all on DVD or Blu-ray. His classics remain classics but a lot of his DTV stuff is just as good, some of it even more fun simply because the usual big-screen cinema rules no longer apply. When you know from the beginning that your movie won't be shown at the local Hoyts you can play with it more; make it more violent and give the audience precisely what they want - guns, fights, explosions. Driven to Kill aka Ruslan, Pistol Whipped and Urban Justice were also great Seagal DTV movies. In fact this movie is similar to Urban Justice. Seagal taking out the trash one by one to avenge his dead son, or in this case, to help a kidnapped girl.
The leader and second in the Chinese people-smuggling gang have both done DTV before. The leader, Chen (Terry Chen) was in Hardwired as the watch salesman and in Wesley Snipes/Jason Statham movie Chaos. Chen's second is played by Byron Mann, who was also in Seagal's earlier DTV work Belly of the Beast. His name in this movie is The Colonel. I couldn't help but think of KFC every time his name was mentioned.
The kid with Seagal is part Russian and his dad runs a rival Russian gang. He may be Russian but he sounds like Swisgaar to me. He promises to help Seagal because he saved his sons life, so by the end of the movie you have Seagal and the Russians in an all out shootout with the crooked cops and the Chinese gang. That's what I like to see in these movies, people working together for a common goal - bad guys laying waste to even badder guys. Seagal gets a few more action scenes; some real vicious ones actually. He snaps about half a dozen arms, and pistol whips a guy at least ten times. At one point in a saw mill he throws a guy into a bansaw and you see his remains spurt out of the machinery. In the same mill Seagal shoves a guy into the blade of a circular saw which gets embedded in the guys forehead. The best kill however is when Seagal takes what looks to be a chopstick and slowly inserts it into a guys neck. Very effective and made me wince.
I love this ultra-violent Seagal but there could have been more of it. When he was on screen it was awesome but there were large chunks of the movie when Seagal and his two new buddies were not on screen. Chen and The Colonel get a lot of screen time, and the lead crooked cop gets his fair share. I wouldn't say I was dissapointed with the amount of Seagal slap-fu and shootouts but you can never have too much of it. At least what there was, was all gold. Seagal rarely tried to be hip and cool like he sometimes does by trying to speak 'street talk' either. The guy will never be Shakespeare but when he doesn't over-act he delivers his lines fine, and he did that admirably here. For the Seagal DTV knowledgable you will be glad to know that there is far less dubbing of lines in A Dangerous Man than something like Into the Sun or, God forbid, Attack Force.
A highly recommended movie. If you have only seen classic-era Seagal like Above the Law or Under Siege and want to dip your toes into the seedy world of direct-to-video Seagal, I suggest you start here and work your way backwards through his filmography.
I watched the unrated 16:9 enhanced R1 Paramount DVD and it was immaculate. My viewing screen is only 32" so I could easily mistake this for a bluray. Colours are vibrant, blacks are deep and the image sharp - this movie is very 'modern' in its filming with a few blue-shifted scenes and quick editing, and the DVD quality reinforces that. The audio was loud and crisp with the gunfire and explosions loud and in your face. Couldn't ask for much more. Runtime 94 minutes.
eBay for US$8 + shipping.