Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Marked For Death (1990)

Steven Seagal steps up to the mark to put an end to that voodoo and hoodoo that you do, in a movie that ends up being one of his very best thanks to a decent script, enjoyable baddie and the standard slap-happy chop-sockiness from our hero.

Seagal plays John Hatcher, a DEA agent in need of a holiday. The war against drugs clearly isn’t working and Hatcher needs to take a break from everything. He heads home to visit his family (including Elizabeth Gracen, Bette Ford and a young Danielle Harris) and finds that the dangerous world of drugs has begun to infiltrate his old neighbourhood, much to the chagrin of his old coach, Max (Keith David).  Hatcher doesn’t want to get involved but when he’s caught up in the middle of a violent shoot-out he realises that he has to help. But these drug-dealing Jamaicans, led by the fear-inducing Screwface (Basil Wallace), will go to any lengths to maintain their superior position. That includes targeting Hatcher’s family, which only makes Hatcher angrier.

I don’t know quite why I love this movie as much as I do, I just know that it will always be a favourite of mine. The action is decent, Seagal still can’t act and the content is slightly less gritty than his first two star vehicles but Marked For Death has plenty to make up for that. The opening sequence is great fun, and features a silent and younger Danny Trejo, the supporting cast is massively boosted by the inclusion of the great Keith David, it’s a blast watching Seagal face voodoo “powers” head on with his usual bone-breaking style and then we have one of my favourite exchanges in any action movie ever: 

“One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.”
“They were both wrong.”

Michael Grais and Mark Victor are responsible for the script, which is full of a few other gems that should raise a smile, and Dwight H. Little directs what may remain a highpoint in his film career.

It’s undeniably dumb in places, especially with the inclusion of Joanna Pacula’s character for nothing more than a bit of exposition, but it’s also consistently fun, benefits from a great turn from Tom Wright, has room for a small Kevin Dunn appearance, throws a decent car chase in there and some impressive swordplay. If Steven Seagal hadn’t lucked out with Under Siege I still say that this would have remained his finest hour. 


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