A mercenary gets involved in a mission that threatens the lives of his kin. In order to succeed, he must break into one of the most wellguarded prisons in Eastern Europe and free the son of the most notorious drug lord in the world today.
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Mercenary John Seeger is one of the best in the business. John and his crew are battling some French soldiers on the French-controlled Galmoral Island in Southern Africa as they're trying to rescue the French Ambassador -- there's a coup going on. John gets angry when some of his soldiers unload their machine guns into the Ambassador and his family, blowing the mission and getting his best friend Radio Jones killed. John goes back to the U.S.A. and goes to the home of Radio's wife Shondra, tells her the news, and then promises her that he'll take care of her and her son Eddie. But shortly after he makes that vow, Shondra and Eddie get kidnapped. They were kidnapped by a CIA faction led by CIA dirty deeds man John Dresham and his boss, CIA Black Ops producer Anthony Chapel, who want to force John into doing a mission for them. Kamal Dasan, the son of prominent gun runner Ahmet Dasan, has been arrested and thrown into the Randveld Prison outside of Cape Town, South Africa, and Chapel ... Written by
Seagal has of late been doing material so utterly poor, to suggest that it may be time for him to call it a day, and concentrate on a promising music career. Seagal looks old, overweight and lethargic in his recent films and aside from the slightly more professional twosome of Into The Sun and Belly Of The Beast, looks utterly bored. Add to this fact he is not doing his own stunts, fighting or even dialogue, then clearly many fans are getting annoyed. However Seagal has one of the most forgiving and undemandingly loyal fan bases out there, so he's getting away with it.
Mercenary For Justice is on one hand the usually bog standard he's been doing lately, but on a slightly more positive not he does most of his ADR looping and also all his own fights. Now that might seem like something that should be a given for an action man but these days Seagal films are rated on the following: Participation in fights, stunts, in the shooting itself (not using stand ins!) and participation in performing his own dialogue. As such this film is a step up from Black Dawn and Today You Die, his previous two, poor, poor movies.
The trouble is that the film has an awful script, poor direction and of course an incredibly wooden performance by its lead. The action is all filmed rather than using stock footage, as in the other Seagal and Don E Fauntleroy team up, Today You Die, which borrowed from several films. This it least has Fauntleroy showing slightly more control behind the camera, but unfortunately the film is one of a line of contractually obligated films Seagal had to do. Sure he got well paid to do them, but the fact is there have been rumours of on set troubles with Seagal, turning up late, changing the script. How true this is I don't know but certainly in this film and TYD, Seagal is probably only present for 2/3 of the movie. Thankfully MFJ marks the last time Seagal will work with these producers and this director, following a much publicised legal battle of suing and counter suing.
MFJ makes no sense whatsoever, perhaps largely due to the slipshod and difficult production thanks to the problems between the producers and the star. This is so poorly constructed and shabbily put together that it makes one wonder just how Seagal fans (myself included can keep coming back in the vein hope he'll do a good movie again. Similarly the film is not helped by a poor cast around Seagal, who lest we not forget is not in the movie that much. However Luke Goss isn't bad, but he is sorely underused. In perhaps the most awful performance ever committed to a B action film, Roger Guenveur Smith, grates, and annoys in the most clichéd British bad guy role, in which every word is ludicrously overly enunciated. As such the poor cast fails to engage in the dull and dragging scenes without the main man Seagal. The action itself ranges form mediocre to bad. There's plenty of explosions but the film is badly edited and the fights sequences are particularly dull, despite Seagal's participation in them. They unfortunately lack imagination and aside from some bone breaking and flushing peoples heads down toilets, it's all pretty brief and uninspired.
The sad thing is that many Seagal fans will "settle" for this junk. It shouldn't be that way. I only hope that the far more promising sounding projects, Shadows Of The Sun and Prince Of Pistols will have a more interested Seagal. I don't blame the big man for not raising his game in a film this poor, he was allowed to give minimal effort to collect a big fat paycheque, so fair play to the man. However he will have to deliver better films otherwise the paycheques could well dry up. DTV films don't have to be awful and Lundgren and Van Damme are proving that. I hope Seagal takes note in his next few films, but thankfully I see there will be little chance they are as bad as this. *1/2
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