A lot of Steven Segal’s movies are getting released on Blu-Ray. Now, I like martial arts movies, I recognize that Segal is crap. However, I do also recognize that, like Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, there was a time where Segal was not a joke, and his movies were coming out in theaters rather than coming out directly to video. So, I’m giving those movies a shot. I’ve reviewed Under Siege elsewhere, so I won’t be reviewing it again here. However, what I will be going with is Segal’s 1991 “classic”, Out For Justice.
Steven Segal plays Gino Felino, a Narcotics detective in Brooklyn, NY. His partner, a childhood friend, is killed by another guy who grew up in their neighborhood, Richie Madano. Blood calls for blood, thus Gino does the whole “loose cannon cop” thing, because he’s… Out For Justice. Sufficiently corny?
There isn’t much good about this film. Segal (who produces the film, which is never a good sign), lets Gino get hit twice, and get shot once. That’s something of an improvement, considering that Segal wouldn’t job to God. The fight scenes are moderately well choreographed, and things are fairly well grounded. There’s a particularly brutal fight scene in a butcher shop and another in a pool hall that are particularly brutal – and realistic (with the sole exception of the Asian Aikido practitioner in the pool hall full of wanna-be mafioso, who is apparently there for the sole purpose of giving Segal a chance to fit in a stick fight.)
Also, to give Segal credit, he, Snipes and Norris are probably the few western martial arts movie “stars” who are willing to roll with gunplay in their movies (Van Damme notoriously wouldn’t stick with the gunfight choeography that John Woo had in mind for Hard Target.)
Segal’s attempt at a Brooklyn accent is painful. I’m pretty sure he tried to pull it off. He failed. Horribly. To his credit, he doesn’t slip in and out of the accent often, but he does slip out.
I got the feeling that the writers had some sort of plot arc in mind for Madano (played by William Forsythe), but it never really panned out. With the exception of the first two murders, Madano had no motivation that was explained for what he was doing. I’m not expecting navel introspection for a martial arts film, but I am asking for a method to people’s madness, even if it’s drug fueled.
Gino Felino is the worst cop I have ever seen in the history of film. I’ve seen a decent number of classic “loose cannon” cops – Dirty Harry, Popeye Doyle, Tequila (from Hard Boiled) – but none of them acted this out of sorts. Gino acts like the heavy from an even worse crime drama. Further, he’s basically handed a license to kill by his Captain. Gino says “Let me handle this my own way, all I need is an unmarked car and a shotgun.” His chief hands it to him and stays out of his way. Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon films never got that. The Bad Boys films only got near to that at the end of Bad Boys 2, which by that point was so ridiculously over the top that the Miami PD invading Cuba wasn’t entirely unreasonable for those movies (if you’ve got Henry Rollins of Black Flag as a Cop, you’re not in any sort of reality I know of). Again, even then, this happened towards the end of the film when things have gotten well over the top anyway. Here, in this movie, Segal gets his license to kill and Carte Blanche within the first 5 minutes.
Don’t pay money to see this movie. Don’t rent it. Don’t buy it. If you really want to see it, go watch it on HBO, or Starz, or Cinemax. Thanks to HD you’ll probably even be able to see it in it’s original aspect ratio, for what it’s worth. But don’t buy this movie, and if you see it at Hollywood Video, pick up Under Siege instead.