Director Michael Keusch brings out the best in Steven Seagal. He got Steve to stab a bunch of folks in Attack Force and in Shadow Man he somehow convinces Steve not to rock his long black leather trenchcoat until the last third of the movie thus keeping the fanbase riveted to all the mayhem wreaked in budget-friendly Romania.
He also was smart enough to start the movie with Steve teaching at his dojo! Anytime we can get a few minutes of the master dispensing pearls of ancient Far East wisdom while beating up watermelons, are minutes that families treasure. I can’t actually remember anything the Master said during his class, but I’m pretty sure it involved Chi. I do recall that it did involve a guy getting punched through a wall by Seagal.
If you think that whupping melons and crippling students is the best that Steve has to offer in this movie, you must thinking of some guy with a girl’s name like Jean-Claude or Dolph. See, Steve does all of this before some numbnuts goes and kidnaps his daughter!
Remember how he tore Poland a new poopshoot when they kidnapped his pen pal in Out Of Reach? That was just over some chick he wrote letters to that another guy’s voice read in Seagal’s head for him! Once Steve’s done retrieving his daughter, Romania’s going to be sorry that the Iron Curtain ever fell. Joe Romania will be stumbling over bullet-ridden bodies on his way to work and thinking “you know, that Nicolae Ceausescu wasn’t really that bad.”
What’s bad news for the skeevy Romanians is of course good news for Seagal fans! But why would an action-god like Steve be slumming in some nothing country that’s so scuzzy they don’t even try to pretend it’s someplace else? It all involves his daughter Amanda spending some time with her grandfather since that’s where Steve’s dead wife was from.
What sounds like a lame tearjerker where Seagal’s daughter learns how to let go of her dead mother and live again is thankfully really about how Seagal’s father-in-law stole information on a super-duper-deadly virus and planted it on Steve, then got blown up in a car, but actually didn’t get blown up in a car so that he could come back to doublecross Steve at the end of the movie all while Steve is shooting CIA agents, Romanian cops, Russian mobsters, and torturing the sexy taxi cab driver who nabbed his daughter but later turns into his sexy friend!
Yes, I know it sounds awesome enough, but does the ass kick on the page materialize as ass kick on the screen? Let me put it this way, if I was Seagal and you were at my dojo and you’d asked me that question, you find yourself picking chunks of wall out of your spleen and wishing I hadn’t run out of watermelons to train with!
Not only does everything you read and imagine transpire, there’s plenty of stuff you couldn’t even begin to imagine that goes on! Like that one time that Steve fought a helicopter gunship! By himself! With just his Glock! He keeps shooting at it until it blows up, then he gets back in his taxi and speeds off to the next gunfight! Just another day at the office!
Steve even goes undercover as a guy looking for drugs and women in an effort to apparently steal some money for some reason. I wasn’t really clear on exactly why we were busting up some drug/whorehouse and pocketing a bunch of cash, but that was probably because I wasn’t allowing my Chi to be centered properly. And when I say he goes undercover, I mean he stiffly announces “I want to party” and that he’s looking for drugs and women.
Guess what Seagal’s idea of a party is? Dudes getting spun around in the air, thrown into and through furniture, shot, punched, kicked – the usual. There’s a guy who’s wearing a mask because of a freebasing accident and when the mask gets ripped off and Seagal gets a good look at him, he declares “that’s not a freebasing accident, that’s syphilis!” And then snaps his neck! Come on, Steve! Leave something in the tank for the big finish!
You mean the big finish in the Bucharest Public Library? That’s right, Seagal arranges to exchange the data on the killer virus for his daughter at the library! Take a minute to imagine how this ends up going down. Did your mind’s eye see Steve shooting everyone? If not, you need to go all the way back to Above the Law and start your training over. I’m a greedy bastard though, so even as books and CIA agents are getting shot and kids are running screaming from the reading room, I found myself hoping for a couple of more bloody showdowns.
As luck would have it, I must have re-centered my Chi because I got two more instances of Seagal vaguely scowling his jowls through about three more killings. You’ve got two Russian pukefaces declaring that they have Seagal in what us Americans call a Mexican standoff. Result? One guy gets shot, the other guy gets his eyes punched out of freaking face by Steve! He’s hilariously left rolling around on the floor trying to find a gun while Seagal just hustles off to the ultimate confrontation with his traitorous father-in-law.
That was a good one as well because even though it looks like Seagal is in a tight spot, he reminds his erstwhile relative that “it’s not over until the wolf howls!” Seagal then deploys the Superpunch he demonstrated on his hapless dojo student at the beginning of the movie which sends pops flying across the room into a wall where he leaves a big bloody smear! Hey, I think I hear something. Yep. That’s the wolf howling, you pud!
Without a doubt the finest Seagal feature of 2006, though depending on the day you ask me, I may also give that honor to Attack Force or Mercenary For Justice since Steve kills buttloads of people in them, too.
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