Thursday, 17 September 2009



I used to enjoy Steven Seagal movies. The early ones, like Hard To Kill and Above The Law, were fairly ordinary but entertaining thudfests in the Chuck Norris vein, but his 1990-91 skullcrushing double whammy of Marked For Death and Out For Justice was profoundly if thoroughly wrong-headedly enjoyable. Then, some time after Under Siege 2, he rather went off the boil and was reduced to direct-to-video cheapies that really weren't up to par. In addition, he spent a lot of time eating pies.

Recent examples of the older, tubbier Seagal have included the appallingly sweary Renegade Justice and the dull Flight Of Fury. Kill Switch is slightly better: a Memphis-set thriller which Seagal wrote himself, in which a taciturn, unconventional cop (guess who) tracks a mad killer hacking people up according to some obscure astrological gubbins. He's also getting over the death of his twin brother as a child, at the hands of another mad killer (a bit of meaningless backstory padding the running time a bit), AND coping with the presence of yet another mad killer running around butchering people because he's just a mad killer. There's also a glamorous but by-the-book FBI agent who vomits over her first crime scene, and Isaac Hayes showing up as the coroner.

The action is plentiful and satisfyingly violent, but the fight scenes go on way too long. More damagingly, they mainly consist of Seagal and his adversaries punching each other repeatedly in the head and slamming each other's head repeatedly into the wall. Whatever martial arts prowess Seagal once had, it's not on view any more. Partly this will be down to his age (although being in his 50s hasn't stopped Jackie Chan), and partly it'll be down to the intake of pasties. The fight scenes are so ludicrously overedited, however, that it looks as if Big Steve wasn't even there when they filmed them and he just turned up later to shoot some near-subliminal close-ups. And when there is a particularly spectacular stunt, they actually repeat the footage - a scene in the first reel has Seagal lobbing a miscreant out of a fourth floor window and the editor ensures he goes through the glass five or six times!

It really isn't very good but it's a shade better than the last few Seagal films I've caught, mainly due to the excessive violence the man dishes out: smashing teeth, breaking arms and legs and ribs. Only a shade better, though. The conclusion of the serial killer plot is perfunctory and the concluding scene of Seagal's new, happy life of peace and love is ridiculous. If the combat sequences had been better handled the movie as a whole might have been borderline okay.


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