What Can Two Men Do Against A Gang Of Crooked Cops? Whatever It Takes
The males of my generation grew up with a healthy respect for (worshipping) the Grade B action heroes of the late 80's/ early 90's and their starring vehicles. It was adolescent boys like me and my friends who would loyally support the bone-crunching, hardly intelligible movies that put “actors” like Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and Michael Dudikoff on the map. To be an eighth grader who could not ad nauseam compare and contrast Bloodsport to Kickboxer (even if you never saw them) was 'not to have lived'. Tacked on my walls at home to this day is a Van Damme Death Warrant poster and a Steven Seagal Marked for Death poster which, I clearly remember begging my local video store guy to give to me for free; while my longtime friend, Ilan Tocker, pleaded desperately for Dolph Lundgren's I Come in Peace. So you must understand that Steven Seagal gets nostalgia points even before his signature squinty eyes and slicked back hair come on screen. He also gets points for having been an action hero in America who actually spoke English with an American accent! So Steven Seagal, after a muumuu wearing, planet saving, video straight-to-ing phase that alienated some of his fans, returns, but not with his same old bag of tricks.
When Seagal came on the scene with 1988's Above the Law he brought some mystique and credibility to the martial arts genre. Unlike some other actions stars of the day, Seagal was supposedly a true expert in his field of karate, perhaps an ex-CIA operative, and could in-reality fight off a band of thugs- smacking pipes and bats into their hands (a must, accompanied by the line -“You're in the wrong place at the wrong time!”). He went on to make every lame action movie with three words in the title (Out for Justice, Fire Down Below, On Deadly Ground, and Marked for Death). The highlights of his career came when he got with Kelly LeBrock (Hard to Kill), faced off with a pre-comeback Tommy Lee Jones (Under Siege), and managed to become a pop culture icon. Now, with Exit Wounds, he uses this reputation and self-awareness to his advantage, giving people like me reason to proudly admit that we have Steven Seagal posters hanging on our walls.
Seagal's character is the same macho quiet tough guy he plays in all his movies. He, as an actor, couldn't stretch if he wanted to, and we, as an audience, would never dare ask him to change. Orin Boyd is a cop who “doesn't obey the rules” and although his boss considers him to be “one of the best”, he must be transferred to one of the roughest precincts in town. As it turns out, this new precinct is also one of the most corrupt, where officers are working side by side with heroine dealers. At times, we are supposed to be shocked to find out which cops are involved or how high up the corruption goes, but we are so accustomed to this sort of morality betrayal bit that picking out the turncoats is quick and easy. (To be honest though, I didn't spot them all and one of them I had actually pegged as being a straight arrow, so shows how much I know.) When the 'surprise' ringleader of this crew reveals himself to the audience with the hackneyed 'swiveling around his chair' – he blatantly steals and delivers a line so much like Keyser S