MARKED FOR DEATH (1990)
Rating: 3.5 on 4 / Buy the Blu-ray here
Tagline: He's a good cop. In a bad mood.
Directed by Dwight H. Little
Starring Steven Seagal, Keith David, Basil Wallace
THE PLAN:DEA Agent Steven Seagal gives up the life to live back at home in a small quiet town near Chicago. Quiet, that is, until he finds out about a local Jamaican 'posse' of voo-doo drug dealers selling dope to kids and yuppie white people. Seagal tries to live and let live, but when shit gets personal, all hell breaks loose, and he becomes... marked for death!
THE KILL: When Steven Seagal returns to the small screen in one of his big-screen adventures from his heyday of action films, you gotta give it some love. Hence is the case with the recently released Blu-ray of MARKED FOR DEATH, the action flick that proved to the world that not only could Seagal be ABOVE THE LAW and HARD TO KILL, but he could be MARKED FOR DEATH, too. And boy is he ever!
Seagal stars as DEA agent who's partner is murdered by a trigger-happy naked hooker. The film opens with him chasing down and bitch-slapping Danny Trejo in one of the cooler 'cameo' appearances by a guy who has since made it to the top. But anyway, Seagal wants out, so he returns home to his sister and her daughter (Danielle Harris, i.e., cameo number 2) to settle down and chill out under the radar. Instead, along with his old army-buddy Kieth David (awesome), he ends up fighting Jamaican drug dealers, cleaning the streets of crack, voo-doo, and crazy dudes named Screwface.
See that? That's Seagal marking you... for DEATH!
Seagal takes badass to a whole new level here, as he's almost a softie at heart, a guy who has no problems looking the other way when drug deals are going down all around him. He's a guy who's a DEA agent cause it was his job, not cause he really wanted to make a difference. But then the Jamaicans make it personal, and when you make it personal with Seagal, he stops at nothing to try to kill you in about 16 different ways. And rightly so. He kicks, he punches, he shoots. He shoots a lot and plays COMMANDO with a ton of arsenal, and has night vision goggles and shit like that.
He also stops at nothing until he kills Screwface deader than dead. Screwface leaves the country and goes back to Jamaica. Instead of saying, "I won! Take that, Screwface." and letting it go, he says "Let's go to Jamaica with a shit-ton of guns, find out where he lives, and blow him away!" You gotta respect that.
You like ass-to-ass? You should see what I make my concubines do!
Keith David is perfect as Seagal's friend and partner in the drug-dealer ass-kicking. He's not as developed as the badass you and I love him for, but he does a swell job, has some decent lines, and motivates Seagal into wanting to take out the trash. If Seagal's gonna have a side-kick, then it might as well be Kieth David.
The flick has it all in terms of being a solid action movie and a product of the late 80s / early 90s. Car chases? Check. Foot chases? Check. Visit to a strip club? Check. Shoot out at a bar? Check. Shoot out a the henchman's headquarters? Check. A scene featuring Seagal gearing up all of his weapons before an attack? Check. Awesome 80s music and fasion? Check and check. Boobs and lots of 'em? Check. A drive by shooting? Check. Jamaican mobsters? Well, that's a bit unusual. And you know what, it works like a charm here. They could have been Italian or something more stereotypical, but instead they were Jamaican, and I totally dig the film for branching out, PREDATOR 2 style.
Say something funny about my glasses one more time!
What sets MARKED FOR DEATH apart from the rest of Seagal's movies of yesteryear is that it's actually a good, serious, action movie. There's not a ton of cheesy one-liners, or sappy love stories, or unbelievable action sequences. He's a dude who wants revenge on voo-doo crack heads and acts on it. I love cheesy one-liners in my action movies, so I missed them here... but it gives the film a more respectable quality to it than some of its predecessors. It's as entertaining as HARD TO KILL and OUT FOR JUSTICE, but it's a more solid movie through and through than either of them. Call it a weird anomaly or whatever, but it's true. MARKED FOR DEATH is a solid good time when it comes to Seagal in action!
Now that MARKED FOR DEATH is on Blu-ray, you don't really have an excuse not to own this puppy. It's Seagal during his finest hour as one of Hollywood's top action heroes, looking skinny, fit, and super badass. Because, let's face it... he's super badass! Whether he's fighting drug dealers in Mexico or breaking the arms of Jamaican drug dealers in suburbia, Seagal is the kind of man's man who doesn't give a f*ck when it comes to doing what it takes to get the bad guys. Doesn't matter if he's out numbered or tricked by a twin, Seagal will always come out on top. He's so cool in this film that it made me actually rethink the title altogether: is Seagal MARKED FOR DEATH or is everyone he fights MARKED FOR DEATH? Think about that shit.
Trailer for MARKED FOR DEATH!
TOP DEATH: Most people would pick the epic decapitation of (one of) the main baddies. But me, my favorite has to go to the naked hooker Seagal blows away in the Mexican brothel. Not only did she deserve it, but the image of Seagal filling a naked hooker full of holes brings a smile to my face.
Give me some weed! Give me some WEEEEEED!
TOP ACTION SCENE: Seagal busts his finest moves near the film's end, particularly when he's fighting thug after thug in the warehouse full of boxes of beer. He takes out like 10 dudes, using sledgehammers, his fists, a kick or two, and I'm pretty sure he didn't break a sweat the entire time. And he breaks at least one arm and one leg.
TOP HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: Nothing. Except, of course, for the full frontal nudity of Screwface (Basil Wallace) get ting out of a skinny-dip session from his indoor pool. Of course, he then walks into a room sprinkled with sleeping naked chicks, so I guess we break even.
Nothing is better than almost-nudity... except maybe actual nudity.
FEMALE EXPLOITATION: Holy hell are there a lot of boobies in this movie. A naked hooker (see TOP DEATH), a visit to a strip club, a voo-doo chick who does her voo-doo in the nu-nude, some random pieces of naked ass in Screwfaces Jamaican mansion, and Seagal's sister bounces around bra-less during a chase sequence where you think they're gona pop out at any time--but they don't.
Seagal: You bailed out a Jamaican street named Monkey the other day, I want him. This other piece of shit, Screwface, I want him. I know you're a scumbag and a puke, I don't mind that, but give me what I need and I'll leave here a nice guy. If you don't, I'm gonna fuck you up.
Seagal: You fuck with my family, you die.
Monkey: Hey, you want some blow?
Seagal: Yeah, I want some blow. Put your hands where I can see 'em or I'm gonna blow your head off.
DRINKING GAME: Every time you think 'goddamn Seagal really let himself go after he made this movie!' you gotta drink!
TRIVIA: MARKED FOR DEATH is The Arrow's favorite Steven Seagal movie.
Scarface is a pussy. This is Screwface. Way more hardcore.
BLU-RAY: The transfer is epic, in both picture quality and sound, but the special features are lacking. By which I mean, there aren't any. Just the movie. But you know, it looks better than ever, and the sound is in DTS, so what do you care? Definitely worth it's price.