Director: Keoni Waxman
Writer: Keoni Waxman
Steven Seagal doing a DTV-movie? Honestly, what do you think how the movie’s gonna turn out? So, in any case, our boy Stevie plays Shane, an ex-Special Forces guy who gets wrongly imprisoned for six years for attacking a car robber who attempted to steal his wife’s car. When he finally gets out, he almost immediately gets drawn to a dangerous situation. But while he may be in wrong place, he’s certainly the right guy for it. Because he is a dangerous man… and I’m so sorry for that last sentence, my dear reader.
Shane Seagal wanders in a parking lot, where he observes two Chinese dudes executing a guy. Shane is not the only eye witness, though. Two Russian youths also sees the killing and get targeted by Asian assassins. The other one gets gunned down, but the other gets rescued by Shaney.
After the attack Shane and his new friend Sergey (Jesse Hutch) discover a girl stuffed in the trunk of the car of the Chinese guys. The girl, Tia (Marleina Mah) is forced to smuggle contraband for the Chinese thugs and she’s is trying to rescue her uncle from the clutches of the bad guys. Shane decides to help the girl, because hey, why the fuck not.
I got really bored typing that synopsis, and believe me, it was evenly tiresome to watch it play out in the movie. The movie was more of an ensemble cast picture than a vehicle for an action star, and it felt really odd that Steven Seagal was even in the picture. He probably had like 40 minutes of screen time and felt sidelined most of the second act.
In fact the movie makes an odd choice of concentrating mostly on the bad guys. Leader of the Chinese gang (played by Byron Mann, Ryu from Street Fighter) is given surprising amount of screen time, and that character slowly builds his double cross which surprises no one. There’s also corrupt cops which has become more of a rule than an exception in these type of films. Frankly the story of the film has a very…Grand Theft Auto vibe. Maybe screenwriters spent too much time clubbing hookers with a baseball bat and blowing up delivery trucks with an RPG than actually studying the structure of coherent story telling. But I would be very interested in seeing a sandbox game where you could play as Steven Seagal. Just imagine how fun it would be to play as everyone’s favourite washed up action hero!
But I digress. The story and the characters feel uninspired. The cinematography shows some signs of competency, but the horrendous editing butchers the DOP’s work almost immediately. Steven Seagal is terrible and his acting is awkward and it’s embarrassing to watch him work, especially in that one scene where a twenty-year old girl gives him a naked lap dance while he leers at her creepily. Just look at the desire in Seagal’s eyes in that scene.
There are some redeeming factors, though. The movie is not afraid to show some graphic violence and the film gets very bloody at times. And if you’re into these sort of films, you could do a lot worse. There’s one scene in the early part of the film where Steven Seagal has an encounter with some street thugs, and that scene felt very much like Seagal’s earlier theatrical work. He beats them up very violently and throws some F-bombs, like he used to, and it makes one incredibly entertaining scene. Kudos for director Keoni Waxman for getting that one scene so perfectly right.
Also I have to point out the actor who plays Sergey’s dad. Vitaly Kravchenko plays a Russian gangster who joins Seagal’s battle against the Chinese when his son’s life gets threatened. I applaud the decision to make a Russian gangster one of the good guys, and Kravchenko plays him just right. Every time he’s onscreen the film gets better. He is one charismatic bad ass and a definite highlight of the film.
All in all, the film is pretty much what you’d expect it to be. Uninspired for the most part, but the violence and few excellent action beats prevents me to declare this as a total dud. If you enjoy Direct to Video crime flicks, you can take a gander. But if you’re here for Steven Seagal, you’d be better off replaying one of Seagal’s earlier efforts. Yes, even Fire Down Below is miles away a better choice than this.
Best Scene: The ass kicking scene where some low life car dealers get tutored by the Aikido master.
Most Memorable Bit: Vitaly Kravchenko gets the best line in the film. When a dirty cop comes to a bar owned by him and tries to talk big at him, Vlad verbally crushes the cop with one of the best lines ever said in a motion picture: “Where I come from we fuck cops in the mouth when we are out of farm animals.”