Marked for Death (1990) with Steven Seagal & Keith David (Arrow Recommends)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: A group of Jamaican, Voodoo loving drug dealers have the misfortune of crossing the wrong dude: Steven Seagal playing John Hatcher as Steven Seagal. The latter goes on to tamper with their business by way of snapping necks, breaking limbs, gouging eyes and sharing his many, many, many bullets. God bless Old School Seagal!

“Give me what I need and I'll leave here a nice guy. If you don't, I'm gonna f*ck you up.”
– John Hatcher

LOWDOWN: I feel sorry for the new generation who only know today’s Steven Seagal. In the 90’s Seagal was the mother*cking man, one that gave us a string of superior action movies to reckon with. Am talking: ABOVE THE LAW, HARD TO KILL, OUT FOR JUSTICE, UNDER SIEGE and his third jamboree of mayhem; MARKED FOR DEATH (WATCH IT HERE). Although all solid in their own rights; I’ve always had a soft spot for the latter. Word has it that Seagal hand-picked genre director DWIGHT H. LITTLE (BLOODSTONE, FREDDY'S NIGHTMARES, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) for this one after seeing HALLOWEEN 4, and going with a then horror director to handle an action party was a stroke of genius on Seagal's part.

Little brought further edge to the proceedings by adding mucho graphic violence and a horror-ish vibe (via the creepy Voodoo stuff) to the mix. The violence here hurt to watch yet at the same time, pleased the Night of the Living Shite out of me! Yup, I’m happy report that MARKED FOR DEATH still held up like the gritty and no BS champ that it is today with the macho man checklist being marked off fervently. Stoic tough as nails of a hero with slick one-liners after some of the kills? Check! One of my favs: “One thought he was invincible… the other thought he could fly – they were both wrong". Had to share 🙂 Hot muscle car (1973 Mustang no less – my dream car BTW) that is of course used in a CRAZY chase down the road? Check! Countless scenes in boobies laced strip clubs? Check!

The merciless slaughtering of scumbags in varied ways (loved what Seagal did with a sledgehammer)? Check! Shootouts and hand to hand fights galore? Check! The goods were all there and in spades at that, conveyed via a breath-neck pace that rarely stopped for a toke-toke-pass break! One thing that so stood out while watching the film today was just how LEGIT Seagal was as an action star. The dude’s fighting was 200% genuine and when you witness him firing a gun – it is obvious that the man knows what he’s doing off camera as much as on camera. Lots of today’s onscreen action heroes wouldn’t know the difference between an M-16 and a Beretta, but Seagal was to put it simply; THE REAL DEAL and it f-ing showed!

The secondary cast on hand was top-notch as well! Genre icon Keith David (The Thing, They Live) got to shine once more as the hard edged sidekick. Basil Wallace was uber chilling as the evil gang leader Screwface (which was also the film's original title BTW). And the presence of a young Danielle Harris (also from Little’s Halloween 4) and the lovely Joanna Pacula classed the thing up. NOTE: Seagal picked Pacula due to her work in GORKY PARK. I know her from the 80's cheese-fest THE KISS! Remember that one? Fun stuff! Being that good looking should be a crime!

Add to all that magic; a dynamic visual style, a rousing score (by now veteran James Newton Howard) and one clever plot twist that I did see coming but that hit the spot none the less – and you get one hell of a satisfying actionner! Any qualms? Yeah but not really. Some may need to apply suspension of disbelief as Seagal kills goons in the open all over the place (even in another country) and barely gets any heat from the law. But I didn’t give a bleep – it’s an exploitation-happy action flick not Moonlight. Finally, am still not sure why Joanna Pacula was in this. It felt like her role was bigger at first (a love interest for Seagal perhaps) but got the trim job in the edit. I craved more of her. Again, no biggie.

What would happen if you dropped STEVEN SEAGAL in a Voodoo horror film like THE BELIEVERS? This beautiful piece of carnage. I gotta say it; I had forgotten at just how much pleasure I derive from witnessing Steven Seagal f*ck people up. It’s a freaking art form and the man is a master at it. You can keep your XXX poseur action, I'll stick to this! I honestly had a smile carved on my dumbfounded face the whole way through . Man I needed that!

I may have started something with this re-visit of MARKED FOR DEATH; I think I need more early Seagal in my life right now. Time to dust off them DVDs and go for another round of old retro "badassery". If you’ve never clocked MARKED FOR DEATH and are yearning for a brutal, clipped paced, testosterone charged and unapologetic action yarn; SEE IT! If you have tapped it in the past, I recommend you catch it again as it still delivers – if not more now!  MARKED FOR DEATH is an action masterpiece with a horror heart! Crack open a beer, slap it in and lock and load!




Source: Arrow in the Head

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