The Golden Triangle. The Chinese military. The Russian mafia. A corrupt small town police force. Dump them all into the patented Low Budget Action Movie Steve-O-Matic and what slides out as easily as a bloated up action star’s all you can eat on-set catering fueled stool is A Dangerous Man!
You don’t really have to see Steven Seagal‘s other three films of 2009 (Against the Dark, Driven to Kill, The Keeper) to know that A Dangerous Man is easily one of his four best films of that year! The completely expected, but nevertheless welcome, prologue which explains why Steve is at once an unstoppable and unflappable bad ass and totally freaking haunted by the way his country (he was Special Forces – like we didn’t know that before we even started the movie!) and his wife turned their backs and betrayed him instantly establishes we are in prime Steve territory, far from his obvious boredom in fighting vampires in Against the Dark and the maddeningly routine and slow The Keeper.
This is a Steve who gets to rage at the judge who is releasing him from a six year prison term for a crime he didn’t commit that “I don’t want your money! I want my life back!” A life of punching punks through car windows outside of liquor stores!
That’s right, big Steve is only out of jail long enough to go out and buy some booze when two toughs try to mug him. Two savage beatdowns, a stolen car, and five minutes later Steve is relaxing at a rest stop reflecting on the life he used to have, flashbacks of him mechanically groping his wife’s breasts assaulting the viewer. Strangely enough it is the shots of Steve wearing a doo-rag and squinting absent-mindedly while remembering these moments which are really the most painful moments of the sequence. Well that and the thunder and lightning that suddenly fill the sky with so much noisy symbolism. But is the storm inside of Steve? Or is there a storm coming into Steve’s life? Or did Steve forget to look at the weather forecast before he went on his booze run?
No time to ponder any of that because this deserted rest stop in the Pacific Northwest on a dark and stormy night is like a convention for foreign criminals! There’s the Russian car thieves who are stopping to take a piss. And then there’s Chinese drug dealers who are busy killing a state trooper before turning their attention to the Russians. In one of his more convincing moments, Steve drops an irritated four letter word as he rumbles into action once he notices an opportunity to shoot people and snap their elbows.
It won’t surprise any of you who’ve watched any of Steve’s other zillion movies made after 2002 that he ends up in a stolen truck with one of the Russian kids, a kidnapped Chinese gal, and a duffle bag full of Chinese drug money! Heck, I would’ve been surprised if he didn’t!
While the film has a bounty of violence (more bad guys are killed in and around the small Washington town the film takes place in than there are locals even living in the town!), it’s the generous helping of vulgar dialogue that really gives things that Steven Seagal touch we look for in his best efforts.
“I use to like, you know, study real hard, and learn all kind of different ways to kill motherfuckers just like you,” he says before issuing an early beat down. Later as he confronts the evil Chinese colonel he advises “well, unfortunately in the fabricating of your plans, you inadvertently stepped into my minefield.” Don’t worry, you even get a dose of the tried and true Steve Philosophy of Life when he responds to a death threat with “you know brother, where I come from, the definition of death is emptiness. If that’s the case, I’ve been dead for a long, long, long time.” How can you not hear that and laugh, wondering if this wasn’t Steve’s sly way of commenting on his own existence of non-stop generic trashy movies, cartoonish public image, and weird hair?
There were a few sentences in the film that probably counted as the plot. Something about this girl’s uncle being smuggled into the U.S. because he was the accountant for the Chinese military’s operations in the Golden Triangle. The Chinese military inexplicably contracts with an incompetent Chinese drug dealer in the area (and who has the local cops in his pocket) to get the uncle, but once Steve saves the son of the local Russian mafia boss, the Russians are drawn into Steve’s World War!
Like the best of Seagal’s worst movies, this one never really slows down. You don’t really care what happens to anyone in the movie, but it is relaxing to watch a movie hero who is never in any jeopardy, never takes a punch, never breaks a sweat or even gets his clothes dirty all the while engaging in furious hand to hand combat, shooting and running (okay lumbering) and shrugging off mammoth explosions he just set off.
And it ends in perfect Seagal fashion with a creepy epilogue where Steve is apparently dating or married to the girl he had been helping despite their embarrassing age gap. Most creepy of all though is the “formal” black leather trench coat he’s wearing, the front and sleeves of which are made up of a soft fabric displaying some sort of thunderbird-like design, making his tailor even an more dangerous man than Steve!
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