Monday, 11 July 2011

Hard To Kill (1990)

Steven Seagal’s second star vehicle has so much good stuff in it that it’s one I thoroughly enjoy despite (or, perhaps, because of) how ridiculous it all is.

The star this time plays the brilliantly-monikered Mason Storm (surely a character name that Nicolas Cage was kicking himself for missing out on). Mason Storm is, as if you didn’t know already, a tough cop who will do what needs to be done to expose corruption and bring down the bad guys. Except this time his work follows him home and a bunch of hired killers do their best to stop the respiration cycles of Mason, his wife and child. Mason is pronounced dead, for his own safety, and it’s almost the truth – he spends a number of years in a coma. Thankfully, when he wakes up he has some immediate assistance from nurse Andy Stewart (Kelly Le Brock) as the baddies coincidentally find out his whereabouts and set about trying to kill him.
One montage or two later and it’s time for the scumbags to be running scared as Seagal lets his anger grow with his strength and sets out for revenge/justice.

Okay, so Hard To Kill could also have been titled Hard To Take Seriously but the comedy factor here is just as entertaining as the, quite enjoyably brutal, fight scenes. Whether it’s Seagal escaping from killers while wheeling himself around on a hospital trolley or just Seagal being given a ridiculous beard to show how time has passed, this film is full of chuckles. There’s also the “cool” saxophone soundtrack moments, the unbelievable relationship developed between patient and nurse and the absolute contrivance of everything that screams “80s action” (though this was released in 1990 and is, technically, a film from that decade).

Seagal is okay, still best when he’s simply kicking ass, and Le Brock does alright in a rather thankless role but there’s also great support from people like Frederick Coffin (as grizzled, trusted colleague, O’Malley), Branscombe Richmond and the great William Sadler as a crooked senator.

Stephen McKay’s script is very much by-the-numbers and Bruce Malmuth directs in a similar style but the whole film also has a pleasing edge to it. It may cop out occasionally (no pun intended) but it’s often a pleasing revenge thriller with the more satisfying moments showing Seagal mercilessly toying with and then despatching  those who destroyed his life. 


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