For reasons that elude me to this very day, wimpy archeologist Indiana Jones enjoys quite a large fanbase. This is a guy who spends most of his movies running from danger, peeing his pants over his snake-o-phobia, and getting tricked by sexy broads all while wearing that silly hat of his.
Throw in that movie where he teamed up with that annoying little Asian kid and that other movie where he teamed up with that annoying old Sean Connery and you’ve got a series of movies no real man should ever be caught dead admitting to watching, let alone liking. But what’s a real hoss like you or me to do when we’re after an old fashioned rip-snorting ass whip archeologist adventure flick?
To paraphrase the great philosopher Magic 8 Ball, “all signs point to Seagal!” Proving that old theater saying that there are no bad parts only bad actors in black trenchcoats with matted down hair, Seagal brings to life Yale University’s highest decorated archeologist in an adventure so Seagalian in scope that the same back alley in Sofia, Bulgaria played the Chinatowns of at least three different countries!
And when I say he brings Professor Robert Burns to life, I mean, he’s squatting down in the dirt somewhere in China, decked out in his leather trenchcoat, dusting off and packing up ancient relics!
And just like the real life archeologists from Yale, he wears a red silk pajama top to accept the most prestigious award in archeology! He also had some other dude dub most of his acceptance speech which just goes to show the humility the man has!
It’s obvious that’s he better dressed than Indiana Jones, but does he spend the whole movie accepting kudos from other eggheads or does he have to take on and kill the heads of every Chinese Tong in existence all in an effort to get revenge for his wife getting blown up in their own house?
Good question! Before we get to that though, we need to have Seagal’s archeology assistant killed off, Seagal framed for some drug smuggling, sent to Chinese prison, make friends with his black cellmate (an inspiring four second scene), get sprung by the DEA in an effort to use him as bait to draw out the real villains, and have a stick fight with some evil monks at a memorial service!
Here’s the thing about Seagal – even after all of this happens, when he meets up with the bad guys at a restaurant, he offers to stay out of their business if they leave him alone.
See, this guy is an intelligent, educated man who understands that violence is ultimately futile in resolving conflicts. But then these guys go and threaten to kill his dog and his wife!
His dog? What do you think Roy Rogers would have done if some cattle rustler threatened to kill Trigger? Or if some outlaw tried to gut Tonto? Would the Lone Ranger just have shrugged it off and gone back to eating his dinner?
Or, would he have beat the piss out of the guy, his friends, shot the joint up and then shoved the gun into the guy’s stomach and aerated his midsection? What I loved about all this was that this is how the good professor reacted before they killed his wife!
Once his wife dies, Seagal visits the father of his assistant who was also killed and swears a vow to get revenge for the death of their loved ones.
But any lame action hero can swear vengeance when someone close gets offed. It’s in the job description. Seagal is all about pushing the boundaries of the genre though.
From his creative use of stunt doubles, other guys dubbing his voice, to wearing the same clothes and facial expression in every single film, his indistinguishable direct-to-video action movies always give the viewer something a little different each time. Usually it’s just the name of his character, but in this movie, he gives himself a deadline for getting revenge! He’s going to have it done by the end of the week, before the funerals of his dead loved ones!
Normally, you would think the rest of the movie would showcase Seagal’s desperate race against time, but Seagal just stiffly walks from Chinese restaurant to Chinese laundry to Chinese trucking company killing everyone he finds.
In one particularly memorable sequence, he fights a guy who can spin around in the air, walk on walls and do all sorts of tricks from the monkey-fu school of martial arts. Ultimately, Seagal catches this kung fool in a towel and snaps his neck, but I’m sure it broke the monotony of fighting guys with guns and swords.
There are two DEA agents trailing Seagal which provides one of them the opportunity to do some dramatic narration about what is happening. She says stuff like “he was like a ghost” even as she was checking out this office he completely demolished while chucking a guy out the window to the street below.
She also pointed out that she never met anyone like Seagal before and doubted that she would in the future either. Really? You don’t think you’ll ever know another guy who was a master art thief, spent seven years in prison, got his doctorate in archeology while in prison, created a new identity upon his release, and somehow found a way to become an expert in Chinese and become an unstoppable killing machine? I ran into three of those guys at the grocery store this week alone!
Some might choose to criticize the movie’s overuse of slow motion, fast motion, animated bullets, amateurish editing tricks, and absurdly bad special effects that make you wonder if they were trying to actually affect some sort of hyper-stylized look, but they would be foolishly overlooking the fact that the movie contained more Seagal-imparted carnage than you really deserve in any given hour and a half of your life.
Besides, when Seagal takes a sword, throws it out a second story window at a guy in the street and decapitates him, do you have any right to complain about anything else in the movie?
© 2013 MonsterHunter