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If you've kept up with Seagal's direct-to-video career (as I diligently have) "Mercenary for Justice" is certainly a step in the right direction. No, it's not great movie, but it's a whole lot better than most of his previous direct-to-video efforts. First and foremost the cinematography is really well done. This movie looks great and feels "bigger" than most of Seagal's previous direct to video movies. Second, although there's more gun-play than Aikido, Seagal performs in all his own action sequences (no stunt/body doubles) and the fight choreography is relatively classic Seagal (arm and wrist twisting / body tossing). Third, Seagal's voice doesn't appear to be dubbed at any point during the movie (as it's been in several of his other releases). What's bad is the usual: muddled story, poor supporting cast, some of the dialogue. The first 20 minutes of the movie lack a real cohesive setup / story (in fact, beside a brief freeze frame / still, Seagal doesn't appear for the first 11 minutes or so). The opening also suffers from the classic low budget, "shooting a stunt from multiple angles then intermittently cutting those different shots of the same stunt into the movie trying to sell it as a new event each time" trick. Oh well. Bottom line: If you've kept up with Seagal this far in his career you won't be disappointed with "Mercenary for Justice." Favorite Seagal theatrical release: Out For Justice / Favorite Seagal direct-to-video release (as of 04/19/06): Belly of the Beast
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
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
"Mercenary for Justice" has one heck of an opening. It starts on a war-torn battlefield with Seagal and a group of mercenaries fighting a legion of French soldiers after having kidnapped and killed the French ambassador. Director Don E. FauntLeRoy, who did the so-so "Today You Die" with Seagal, proves his worth with this sequence as the action is fluid and crisp and looks like it cost way more than the reported $15 million it actually did. It's clear with this film's opening: Seagal is hearing the fan's pleas for better films, and he's going to start trying better. Another thankful gesture to his loyal fans in this film is Seagal actually does his own fighting, and while the fight scenes are less impressive, at least it's him doing it. The plot is ridiculous and silly and most of it doesn't make a lick of sense, but since when did it have to in a Seagal movie? What matters is that the film looks good and makes Seagal look good. Having been a Seagal fan for a while, I must say I was pleased by this film.
"Mercenary for Justice" is garbage. Sure, it looks slick, with above-average (by DTV standards) production values, international locations, and some great stunts. But don't let the looks fool you. The story makes no sense whatsoever from beginning to end, and Seagal's ego-feeding is in full-force here (he is introduced as "the most decorated soldier in Gulf War I" - apparently he wouldn't even settle for "second most decorated" - and, of course, nobody can land a single tiny hit on him in a fight, despite the fact that these days he has to send his stunt double to climb over a 10-foot wall). The viewer has no idea what is going on or why, and in a turn of events that shows just how utterly moronic this script is, Seagal and his female partner Jacqueline Lord kill several perfectly innocent Cape Town cops and security people who were just trying to protect the bank that these two were (inexplicably) robbing, yet the film apparently expects us to continue regarding them as the good guys (!!!), because they are trying to save a black kid and his mother. What the hell? Oh, and why does that kick-ass muscular and deadly female mercenary we see in the opening sequence get killed off so quickly? At least SHE could climb over a wall. (*1/2)
Steven Seagal might be getting old and he also might not have the same
shape he had 20 years ago but he certainly still can make a movie great
just by being in it.
Actually, this movie itself is pretty good. A lot of money has been spent on making it realistic and entertaining. Reminds you of the good old days when Van Damme and Seagal were backed by big budgets.
Mercenary for Justice is a colorful film filled with explosive action scenes, great dialogues and one-liners, fight scenes in which Seagal actually takes part. It had been a while since I really saw him perform anything close to his Aikido moves. The balance between realism and utter irrealism is just perfect.
You got to remind yourself that action movies are a genre in themselves. Lots of folks try to bring them down for various reasons...they just don't get the point. Just like romantic comedies and politic thrillers all follow some basic rules, action movies are also lead by a set of pre-requisites that you just expect to be there. Villains you can hate, a hero you can love, a beautiful girl, guns roaring...
The production is good. Direction sometimes reminded me of "24 esquire" hand held camera. Little part of scenes are sometime fast-forwarded to get a feeling of speed. Well... this still is a direct to video release, I guess they have to include some cheesy stuff.
The only downside to this picture is the story. It's pretty hard to follow but it does keep the characters on the move.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This had to have been one of the most awful movie I have seen in my
life. I have seen quite a few stinkers, believe me, but this movie
takes the cake. It seems Steven Seagal's moves are becoming slower and
slower after each film he makes. He really should start to lay off the
Burger King meals if he wants to move two seconds quicker. You will
quickly notice his huge gut within 10 minutes into the movie (God
forbid should you watch this crap longer than 10 minutes).
The movie starts off with scenes of men gunning each other like they're auditioning for Saving Seagal's Private. The camera shots were terrible. It was like watching a toddler trying to control the camera steady while learning to walk. I didn't quite understand why they were fighting; actually, I didn't understand what the movie is supposed to be about other than John Seeger, Seagal's character, wanting to get revenge after someone used him for whatever purpose the writers threw into the script. Seeger's agenda also includes rescuing a little boy and his mother after being kidnapped by the same villain that used Seeger. At least the kidnapping gave the lead character a purpose to go on his 'mercenary mission'.
There were also moments where you think to yourself "Are you freaking kidding me?" There is a scene where Dresham gets into his car and never realized that Seeger was in the backseat (honestly, how could you miss seeing an ape in the backseat of your car). Seeger holds a gun to Drasham's head from the backseat while having difficulty spitting out his witless dialogue. Dresham signals for a policeman's attention, policeman walks over, Seeger somehow manages to master the art of teleportation, and mysteriously ends up in a van that happens to drive by when Dresham jumps out of the vehicle the split second Seeger disappears.
The acting is just pure trash. I honestly do not know how some of these actors can bare the embarrassment of being cast in such garbage. Seagal's dialogue are even worse in this film. It seems that he's trying maybe a little too hard to be witty by mumbling humorless one-liners. Should anyone find them remotely funny deserves a slap to the face.
I just really can't go on about this poor mess. Steven Seagal should retire from film now and rest in peace. God forbid him to continue torturing those that he call his loyal fans.
P.S. - Seagal, please take notes from Wesley Snipes movie, "The Detonator" At least his movie had somewhat a story to it. And please, please, man hit the gym.
I liked Seagal.... In his prime. A long time ago, (Okay, 1989) Steven
Seagal was the master of the martial arts, A man who speaks little, but
makes up for it in kicking ass... and he was lean and mean. Nowadays,
he's fat, he can barely talk above a whisper, and he just doesn't care.
But he keeps churnin' out the junk.
And I keep falling victim to it. For Seagal DTV standards, (does that even make sense?) it isn't as bad as "Submerged" , but it's not as good as "Belly Of The Beast".
The plot: John Seeger (you know who...) is an ex-mercenary, CIA, FBI dude, who has to break into a prison, while orchestrating a bank robbery. Then Seeger shoots lots of people. That's about it.
What's with the three word titles? Enough already. I guess people don't think it's a Seagal flick without a three word title. The title doesn't even make sense. A mercenary works for money and he has no soul, he doesn't do it for justice.
The only actors good in this is Roger Guenveur Smith as the villain Mr. Chapel and Luke Goss as Dresham. But even they were coasting.
If you want a good Seagal flick, go with "Out For Justice" instead.
For more insanity, please visit: comeuppancereviews.com
Wow.. what a great movie,, the best Seagal DVD in years,, even better than the new Pistol Whipped, this one has everything,, an opening Army battle scene,, everything blowing up,, good fight scenes for Seagal that we haven't really seen in years, a decent plot line,, also lacking for many of those DVD's of his in recent years, and this one even has a sexy as heck girl for Seagal to be with,, i liked the many different characters in this one,, Chappel for one was pretty good,, i don't touch guns... that's you're job,,, moron.. what a line. all in all this was a very good movie, it had all the action that you could possibly want from a Seagal movie, so therefore i give it a perfect 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Another ninety days, another Seagal release. This one seems like a
sequel to Submerged, in that Seagal is working as part of a team again
(thus meaning that other actors get the bulk of the meaty action
sequences) and this movie (sadly) is all over the place (plot-wise) as
Submerged. Seagal plays John Seager, freedom fighter and freelance
mercenary, who after getting shafted by his current employer, goes to
work for an enemy of the said employer, and proceeds to shaft him. Any
further explanation would be either: a major spoiler.....or news to me,
as i couldn't keep up with the movies many plots and twists. What is of
major importance to all Seagal fans however, is the action. And this
movie (the second by Faunteroy, director of the equally fragmented
Today You Die) has plenty of action (to make up for the lack of logic,
perhaps?) and (what seems like) no fight-doubling for the stout sensei.
Upon further inspection, the fight scenes (as usual) are shot extremely
fragmented (why use one edit, when forty will do) so it's hard to tell.
Seagal certainly performs a few of his (feared lost) classic Aikido
moves (the fight in the bathroom, being a brutal notable) but the
surrounding stuff (i.e, plot) is up there with the manic confusion of
The Foreigner, Out for a kill, Out of reach and Submerged.
A fair portion of this, could be down to the fact, that Seagal crammed filming this one with (roughly) about three other direct-to-video classics......so i guess you've got to credit quantity over quality, nowadays? As a lifelong Seagal fan, i enjoyed it, but i fear it'll lose him more fans, than create new ones. Technically, it's sound, the performances are OK, the action scenes are fine....i just wish these Direct-to-video releases would tone down the 'filler' plot, thus making the movie easier to understand? As for Seagal, one can only hope that the forthcoming Prince Of Pistols puts him back on the big screen (where he belongs) as i feel these 'small' studios (and their directors) are doing this once great action icon, no favours.
Bottom line, If you're a Seagal fan, you have to buy it. If you're a casual viewer, rent it, but i'd be surprised if you rented another, given the somewhat superior quality of other equally budgeted releases on the shelves at the moment. One for the fans. 7 out of 10 (only for the presence of Seagal)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am not sure what fans of Seagal are complaining about given his recent disasters over the years from 2002's The Foreigner through "Out of Reach" in my opinion would be #98, 99, and 100 on IMDb's bottom 100 list. However, after slight improvements in the films "Into the Sun" and "Black Dawn" I have to say "Mercenary for Justice" is his best film since "Half Past Dead". I say this because the film had me interested from start to finish. The fight scenes are credible, the action staged well, and Seagal's old persona comes out in this film. It reminded me of "Marked for Death" in its style. Some faults are evident, such as the bad dialogue and acting from the supporting cast. That is Seagal's stunt double again jumping fences to get behind the truck after the initial war sequence. The bathroom fight sequence as well as the last 20 minutes of the film make it all worth it. Truly, *** out of **** in its class.
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