Monday, May 5, 2008

Seagalfest 2008!

Earlier this year I watched 8 Seagal films over the course of almost a week in a fit of temporary(?) insanity
I had hoped that such a magnitude of films with one of the worst leading men in history would make me appreciate films more, and we'll see if it works. So without further ado here's the rundown:

Genre: Sci fi action.
Silly name for Seagal's character: Marshall Lawson
Seagal's girth: Monstrous.
Seagal's fighting: Few, and done by badly flailing his arms around with mtv editing to cover up.
Biggest WTF line: "The man walks with an air of confidence rarely seen this day in age" .
Seagals plot justification: Kill the guy who killed his squad
Biggest WTF plot moment: The bad guy reveals his entire plot midways into the film in a fashion that puts the James Bond villains to shame, and then promptly escapes right after saying it.
Idiotic end shot: (apparently Seagal is an angel)

Seagals voice: Some his own, some of another sick sounding guy.
Bottom line: At least his sidekick was the nearly leading man for much of the film to keep some pressure off Seagal, and the visuals were nice enough. But no amount of explanation can redeem this bad film.
Rating(of 10):

Genre: Blacksploitation action.
Seagal's girth: Twice the man you'll ever be.
Seagal's fighting: Kills dozens, and even does some neck cracking but most of the time still the arms flailing style.
Biggest WTF line: "Tell every *beep* on the street they're not safe 'till I find the *beep* who killed my son. " (Seagal himself in ghetto talk)
Seagals plot justification: Kill the guy who killed his son.
Biggest WTF plot moment: Seagal rents a flat and then when he exits local gangbangers wait for him to ambush him for no particular reason at all.
Seagals voice: No dubbing, but all ghetto talk baby.
Bottom line: They actually made some effort on this one. Eddie Griffin does a decent enough job as one of the lead crooks, and Danny Trejo steps in for a cameo. Pretty bloody film too, whenever someone gets shot a couple of liters of blood splashes around.
Rating(of 10)

Genre: Dirt cheapo thriller.
Silly name for Seagal's character: Frank Glass
Seagal's girth: Big.
Seagal's fighting: Only one, and it's really his body double doing it with cuts to closeups of Seagal's face.
Biggest WTF line: "Love never dies, and neither do they. Love is eternal, and that's a long time. "
Seagal's plot justification: None, Tom Sizemore is the star(his is avenge dead partner).
Biggest WTF plot moment: Tom Sizemore runs into a crazy dirty homeless woman who tells him that the bad guys wanted to have sex with her and what license plate on the car they drove.
Seagal's voice: His own usual raspy.
Idiotic end shot: Stock footage of cars driving along at night
Bottom line: Now this is awful! Whenever something happens in terms of action in the film it's stock footage with closeups of the actors. Tom Sizemore stars in this heap of junk, as does Nas if you trust the cover he dies within 10 minutes and has half a dozen lines, Seagal plays a zen loving bomb squad leader and Dennis Hopper plays the villain with the worst irish accent you can imagine. The only thing this film has going for it is Jamie Pressly, she actually delivers a passable performance and against the norm.
I think half this film's budget was spent on the by Seagal standards rather swanky poster.
Rating(of 10):

Genre: Hitman wannabe action.
Seagal's girth: Two and a half men.
Seagal's fighting: feverently flailing his arms around.
Biggest WTF line: "You know..the individuals I interviewed after giving them..severe talking to gave me a very nice description of someone who looks exactly like you".
Seagal's plot justification: Play along of bad people will hurt his daughter
Biggest WTF plot moment: Bad guy kills a priest in confessional sorely because he knew Steven Seagal's character.
Seagal's voice: his own, but he's decided to be the king of mumbles
Idiotic end shot: Seagal walks up to his house and you get a matrix-y shot around the house.
Bottom Line: Lance Henriksen has a cameo, and damn does he look old(his character's name is old man, so I guess it's fitting). Seagal's bloated self in a suit for the big end shootout in a cemetery is just too funny. Not that bad though.
Rating(of 10):

Genre: "Macgyver meets Seagal" action.
Silly name for Seagal's character: William Lansing.
Seagal's girth: Ample enough to fill in for William Conrad if they decide to remake "Jake and the Fatman".
Seagal's fighting: Body double doing some of it and the usual tomfoolery.
Biggest WTF line: "You think this is funny? Want to get drunk?" That's to the kid he's taking care and he's just caught him drinking, and after that he just moves onto business.
Seagal's plot justification: Rescue kidnapped daughter-surrogate(Do I see a pattern here?).
Biggest WTF plot moment: Quite a few to take from in this one, but I'll take the one I learned the most from. If someone gets shot do not call for help, simply force some booze into them, find a kitchen drawer and pick up some knifes which you head up, and then just get the bullet out. Peace of cake really.
Seagal's voice: Not only does this film rely on narration to give it some sort of sense(which it fails at), but half the time it's some much more more feminine sounding actor doing his voice.
Idiotic end shot:

Bottom line: This is even worse than Ticker. The acting by everyone is Z grade, the plot doesn't even pretend to make sense, the action is shoddy. Horrible film, one of the worst I've ever seen".
Rating(of 10):

Genre: Asian action wannabe.
Silly name for Seagal's character: Travis Hunter.
Seagal's girth: Godzilla.
Seagal's fighting: A little bit of bone crunching again.
Biggest WTF line: "What [ken do] school? - USCLA" (from Seagal's partner when asked what ken do school he attended)
Seagal's plot justification: Avenge his dead friend.
Seagal's voice: Sometimes he speaks japanese, sometimes english, sometimes the other people speak english, sometimes japenese.
Bottom line: Seagal in japan trying to flaunt his Japanese knowledge makes for a pretty mediocre Seagal film.
Rating(of 10):

Belly of the Beast? - Now even the writer\director is making fun of his girth!
Genre: Fantasy action
Silly name for Seagal's character: Jake Hopper
Seagal's size: Beastly
Seagal's fighting: Skinny body double do some of the work, and some bone crunching on his own account.
Biggest WTF line: "I liked you a lot better as a bitch."
Seagal's plot justification: Daughter kidnapped
Seagal's voice: Some other dude overdubbing his voice at times yet again
Bottom line: More eastern masturbation for Seagal, this time they even add some magic. Meh.
Rating(of 10):

Genre: Buddy action flick
Seagal's girth: Only a sizable pot belly.
Seagal's fighting: They made some effort again on this one, not that bad.
Biggest WTF line: "Yeah, cuckoo crazy! "
Seagal's plot justification: No one he cares about to avenge or rescue this time believe it or not.
Seagal's voice: His own.
Biggest WTF plot moment: The bad guys break into Alcatraz and threaten to kill an inmate who's strapped to the electric chair (he was going to be executed)
Bottom line: Apart from the extremely crazy plot, and bad acting from the 2 leads, it's not that bad.
Rating(of 10):

Genre: Action comedy
Silly name for Seagal's character: Orin Boyd
Seagal's girth: Only a little chubby(!)
Seagal's fighting: Pretty good actually.
Biggest WTF line: "If you want to feel the heat you got to have the meat"
Seagal's plot justification: See the one above.
Seagal's voice: His own yet again.
Biggest WTF moment: He decides to throw the vice president off a bridge.
Bottom line: I can't believe I'm saying this, but this was sort of good. For once a Seagal film was deliberately funny at times, the stunts were good and the plot was better than most of his films while still having the trademark "friend is an enemy" at the end. The end discussion between Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson is rather amusing.
Rating(of 10):

Saturday, May 5, 2007



Let's move on from the somewhat disappointing Yojimbo and get to an epic piece of cinematic history. Based on the King Lear story this movie takes place in the later days of the Samurai era, like many of Kurosawa's films. The film centers on Tatsuya Nakadai who plays Lord Hidetora, an old man who decides to leave his kingdom to his oldest son, Akira Terao who plays Takatora, much to the hidden dismay of his 2 other children Masatora(Jinpachi Nezu) and Saburo(Daisuke Ryu). Giving away the power while still keeping some doesn't go the way he thinks, and sparks internal fighting between the 2 oldest brothers, who both shun him, and his youngest son go into exile with his Father-in-law to be.

The tale is full of epic struggles, great characters, both male and female, loyalty, betreyal, lust, repent and madness. It's one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen, the colours leap from the screen. Great castles and gorgeous landscape shots are littered through the film, it's got a great score, and all in all is a wonderful epic movie. It really has to be seen. It may be too long for some people, but it's well worth the wait for the conclusion at the end, which for most of the characters end in dismay.

Rating(out of 10)

It may very well merit a full 10 of 10 with the next viewing.