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DEA agent John Hatcher (Steven Seagal) returns from Colombia after the
death of his partner. He goes home to his sister's family in Chicago.
He and army buddy Max (Keith David) have a drink and he reluctantly
gets in the middle of a shootout with the drug gang Jamaican Posse. The
leader of the gang is Screwface (Basil Wallace). John arrests one of
Screwface's man and his sister's house is shot up. His niece Tracey
(Danielle Harris) is left in critical condition.
It's one of Seagal's better efforts for what that's worth. He kicks some bad guys and shoots up a storm. The bad guys use Jamaican voodoo but that adds to the atmosphere. None of it should be taken seriously. It's straight forward and without any apologies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I find the movie acting and action scenes over-toned, but I am not a
fan of Steven anyway. What does come at deeper level is the "choice of
Well, its no secret Jamaican gangs (posse) exist. Whether they rule US streets, that is pretensions. However, Stevens movies were never realistic, but about action and "defense of US pride and justice" but this one kicks it over the edge with a lot of stereotypes.
Dreadlocks are criminal stereotype, instead of Rastafarians who are peaceful and certainly not a violent international drug dealers (even when it comes to herb).
While Screwface does display some Rastafarian features such as Patois language, and observing US as "Babylon system" he does practice belief in Voodoo and magic (which isn't prominent in Jamaica at all). Gang members call each other Rasta - while real faith opposes crime and violence and is often victim of it (e,g. Robert Nesta aka Bob Marley was a a wound victim of a paid assassins of such a posse)
Such elements have ruined something that could have been a good action movie with a message, and depicts overall Jamaicans as primitive and drug dealing people.
That this isn't alone voice is indicated by real Jamaicans / Rastafarian protest at time of movie release, being put on a list of most racist movies ever and overall today perception "of how not to do movie and play with other cultures".
What is even strangest is that movie featured some nice reggae and rap music, such as Jimmy Cliff. I suppose buying music for soundtrack goes before movie is presented to the musicians. They do also appear live in clubs of Jamaica.
Hot on the heels of Hard To Kill, with again, a less than impressive performance, one could say undemanding now, as we don't go to see Seagal films for acting talent. One in a long line of films before Seagal did straight to video dreck, this third Seagal instalment sees him back on a personal trail of revenge, after earlier retiring. His captain making a potent statement "What are you gonna retire too?", this same actor playing the bartender in that redneck bar in 48 Hours, sardonically suggesting Murphy's choice of drink. When Seagal's undercover mate is blown away in a drug deal gone wrong (a great start of location) and blowing away a woman shooter in return, he decides if by some sort of redemption or salvation to pack it in. When returning to his old neighbourhood to get some peace and tranquillity, he inadvertently stumbles into another drug war, when him and old buddy (Keith David) are witness to an open shootout involving Jamaican drug lords, better known as possies. A nice little educational note there. When his niece takes a bullet, he's forced back into action as we love to see him, him and David walking out of the hospital room, both intent and fierce again has as asking, what's a great actor like David, working with Seagal. Their objective is Screwface, the great Basil Wallace, the standout performer in this who provides a twist too. There are some humorous scenes in Marked for Death, 1) The confession scene. 2) a slightly amusing scene with Seagal, tinkering with some old gun parts or ornaments of some kind at his Sister's place, but 3) Seagal's dialogue to Davi,. concerning two bad arses, one of who'm he just shot, while the other, a Jamaican who made his choice. The family/homely scenes worked well for what isn't a bad actioner, or badly made film, which way you want to term it. It's a solid piece of action making, some potent and memorable dialogue too, as in Seagal's following hit, Out For Justice. This one just doesn't rise to the quality of Seagal's prior flicks. Pacula too as a reporter, provided another homely scene, when Seagal recounts olden days of soup kitchens. Another amusing scene, just before I sign off has Screwface's girl dancing for Seagal, who lets him in on a little wise information, in order to catch her ex. End Song by Jimmy Cliff and the band, is no better way of song to finish this heavy action vehicle, with some occasional but heavy gore.
In one of his early vehicles with the three-word descriptive titles, Steven Seagal this time is fighting the war on drugs. Or, to be more accurate, he's out to annihilate the Jamaican drug pushers who've infiltrated his Chicago community. He didn't feel like doing so at first; he'd burned out while on the job as a DEA agent and realized that in order to win he'd become no better than his adversaries. It's only inevitable that he'll once again get motivated to righteous fury when his own family is victimized. The bad guys in these movies never ever learn that simple lesson - mess with the hero's loved ones and they're just as marked for death as the good guy. Here, Seagal showed that in the earlier years of his career how he really gave more of an effort and could be quite engaging. He's given a truly kick ass sidekick in the form of eternally cool Keith David, as the old buddy / football coach disgusted by what he sees around him. Also lending assistance are Jamaican cop Tom Wright and a professor played by Joanna Pacula. "Marked for Death" does its job in a number of areas; as directed by Dwight H. Little ("Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers", "Rapid Fire"), it hits the ground running, and delivers exactly what we as fans of Seagal movies expect: rampant brutality, with broken limbs aplenty, bullets in foreheads, bodies crashing through windows, impalement, eyes gouged out, etc. The topicality of the script does take a back seat to all of the violent action - there's always one great scene around the corner. There's even a little bit of nudity to spice things up. A major appeal of the movie is the soundtrack, which features some tunes by Jimmy Cliff, who also appears on screen performing with his band. The supporting cast is full of familiar faces - Kevin Dunn, Tony DiBenedetto, Peter Jason, Danny Trejo, Gary Carlos Cervantes, and Earl Boen, with Danielle Harris, whom Little had directed in "Halloween 4", in a bit as Seagal's niece. Basil Wallace, an actor who should have broken bigger after this, has enough intensity and charisma to make for an effective villain. All in all, "Marked for Death" is good fun and builds to a really good finale as well as an amusing twist and resulting final one-liner. Seven out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We all know that it is B grade B movie. The "afternoon" or "rainy
night" kind of time filler. So I won't get harsh, though with the
presence of Steven Seagal it's impossible not to !
After Seagal's first movie (Above the Law 1988), some critic said about the new rising star "He's a fine mix of John Wayne, Bruce Lee and Clint Eastwood". How deceived that miserable critic was ! In fact Seagal is nothing but another Charles Bronson yet with marital arts experience. Observe well Seagal's so-called acting to discover easily that he must have watched Bronson's Death Wish movies for countless times !
The conflict this round is some tough cop fighting some voodoo drug dealers. The friction of the two's worlds was done absurdly. That cop's violence is too much; he walks like a deadly epidemic that leaves no wounded guys, only corpses. The attack at the gang's headquarters reminded me of (Commando), 5 years earlier. However the real reason of bothering was Seagal himself.
It's not about the eternal truth that he doesn't smile, or doesn't know the way to. It's about another thing. They gave him a little dialog, which is a good idea, till you know that it was filled with many one-liners. OK, how they got the nerve ?! That guy is the worst of the worst at delivering any one-liner ! Watch him saying "They were both wrong" or "I hope they weren't triplets"; if Tom from Tom and Jerry said these lines, he would be less awful and more cool than Mr. Steven-The Whispering Zombie-Seagal !
The action is average, but it works. In movies of that kind don't ask much, just watch the fights. In general I liked 2 things, one of them is Seagal's black car; it was a stunner for every guy back in the 1990s start. And the second is of course the surprise of the evil guy as alive; that trick of having a twin brother was excellent (that fake decapitated head was so real it's freaky too !). Other than that...Seagal's grins could have killed me !
P.S : I read that Seagal didn't want to make this movie, hating it openly from day one till now, so how come he produced it ?!
"Marked for Death" follows a predictable formula that is really based
on U.S. relations with Germany and Japan just before the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor. At first our hero John Hatcher (Steven Seagal)
wants to retire from the narcotics division in law enforcement and
ignore the drug dealing (a metaphor for foreign wars) that is going on
around him. Then after trying to live peacefully in isolation, Hatcher
is pulled back into his profession when Jamaican drug dealers, led by
Screwface (Basil Wallace), fire machine guns at his sister's home and
wound his niece. Hatcher realizes that he cannot isolate himself from
the evil forces anymore and so he confronts them in a good vs. evil
struggle in which he eventually emerges triumphant.
With this predictable plot, only great dialogue, great villains and a great Seagal performance can save this movie. Steven Seagal has a great screen presence, but the screenplay only has him perform standard car chases and routine martial arts sequences in which he breaks arms, legs and other body parts. But what I find ridiculous about this film are the villains. Screwface and his cohorts come across as very silly performing all of their voodoo magic. I don't know if there are Jamaicans who are so stupid as to think there is anything to voodooism, but it is hard to believe based on this film. Moreover, the voodooism seems all the more ridiculous considering the dreary atmospheric soundtrack in the background. Somebody at the screenplay or production level was way off in introducing voodoo rituals in order to spice up the plot. It actually made the film boring because the voodooism was not relevant to the plot and the villains were reduced to stock characters that fit the image of the "primitive savage" as imagined by European colonialists. The Jamaican cop Charles (Tom Wright) in the film and the explanation half way into the movie that not all Jamaicans sell drugs came across as a pathetic attempt at hedging by the filmmakers who were worried about their film coming across as anti-Jamaican.
i might be a little biased towards this Seagal film as it's actually the first of his that i saw and one of only two i have seen in the theatre.i just finished watching it again a couple hours ago,for only the second time.compared to his two previous movies,there is less action here,but the ferocity of the action more than makes up for it.the broken bone(not to mention deaths)quotient in this one is off the charts.Seagal is starting to become wooden in his acting here,and it shows,but the movie is still a romp.the villain is great here and is played with gusto by Basil Wallace.i'd recommend it to action fans in general and certainly to Seagal fans.for me,Marked for Death is a 7/10
Seagal is back at his best in marked for death. Seagal plays John Hacher a narcotics cop who goes up against Screwface a sadistic Jamaican drugs baron who wants john dead.marked for death is a brilliant action packed Seagal classic bone crunching fight scenes blazing action and the acting is top notch Seagal is good as john hatcher and basil Wallace is good as the evil Screwface Kieth David is also good as Seagals side kick. Top action makes marked for death a classic Seagal movie also good directing by dwight h little who also did rapid with brandon lee and murder at 1600 with wesley snipes pure entertainment makes this a good rental 8 out of ten
I loved this film from start to finish. It's Steven Segal at his cheesiest best, and although I feel that he's not not exactly the greatest actor in the entire world, I do think that he is the best at what he does, which is deliver great one liners (most of the time painfully cheesy but also brilliant in equal measure, but hey it's Steven Segal, he's allowed!), and then fill you and you're mates in for even looking at him in the wrong way. He's been around for a long time now and I think it's great that he continues to promote the beautiful art of aikido in all of his films; I don't know many other people who remain such a constant with regards to martial arts in film.
The 1990 Steven Seagal martial arts action flick "Marked for Death"
marked a bit of a change for the then-sixth-degree black belt Aidiko
expert. In "Marked for Death," we see Seagal at what is arguably his
most brutal and violent, and the action shifts from the Chicago suburbs
to the exotic land of Jamaica. These all might make it seem more
entertaining but the ultimate question is, is it?
Well, yes and no. Seagal has and (probably) always will be a stoic martial arts action star with limited acting capabilities but stellar skills in snapping limbs and breaking necks and here (dare I spoil it for everyone), his first dual-vasectomy/decapitation combo.
Seagal is former DEA agent John Hatcher, who decides to retire from the job after a drug bust gone bad in Mexico that leaves his partner dead. Once home, he reunites with the family and renews connections. (I guess even The Great One has a heart, or at least tries to pass off as having a heart.) But his retirement is cut short by the recent invasion of Jamaican drug posses, who have flooded the streets with cocaine and other choice narcotics and are also responsible for the increase in violence in the area.
Hatcher reunites with football coach and ex-Army buddy Max (Keith David), who has lost both his 13-year-old nephew and star player to overdoses supplied by the Jamaicans. Hatcher remains on the sidelines of the battle but once they attack his family and total his prized Mustang, the heat is on. Taking the war to rid the Chicago 'burbs of drugs and their suppliers to the Windy City's streets and ultimately the slums of Jamaica, Hatcher and Max make mortal enemies with the posses' piercing, blue-eyed psycho leader, Screwface (Basil Wallace).
Unevenly mis-directed by Dwight H. Little, "Marked for Death" has all the trimmings of a nice kick-'em-up that's characteristic of any Steven Seagal action flick. As I stated earlier, the action does get pretty vicious, and I caught an uneasy vibe about the underlying racist portrayal of the villains, which I guess is remedied by the inclusion of nice-guy cop Tom Wright as the only Jamaican cop in the movie. The plot is also cookie-cutter, its only high point being a twist at the end that helps to explain Screwface's apparently "mystical" powers in black magic (he has "two heads and four eyes," we're told).
At the end of the day at center stage, though, is Mr. Seagal and his remarkable mastery of his Aikido craft. He hasn't had too many hits as of late but despite everything bad aimed in his direction, he remains one of the martial arts movies' biggest names.
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