“Marked for Death”

Paleo Retiree writes:

Reluctant no longer

Reluctant no longer

Steven Seagal movie from 1990, and — not that I’m a scholar of Seagal’s work, mind you — one of his best, IMHO. It’s slickly directed (by Dwight H. Little), amusingly designed (by Robb Wilson King), and extremely well-lit in a “48 Hrs.” kind of way (by Ric Waite, who I was sad to learn recently died), and it features a lot of terrific supporting players, including a spectacular and terrifying turn by Basil Wallace, a Jamaican-born actor who plays the charismatic, possibly psycho leader of a Jamaican drug gang. (The film makes a big deal out of contrasting the serenity and sweetness of middle-class American life with the nest-of-vipers quality of the brutal, Obeah-believin’ Jamaican thugs.) Plus I really liked “John Crow,” a Jimmy Cliff song that the movie features. 

The Question Lady and I had our usual good time chuckling over Seagal’s portliness and clueless acting, and roaring over action-movie clichés. Has there ever been a more unlikely action hero than Steven Seagal? Or one to whom stuntmen have been more generous? And how long can an audience reasonably be expected to watch a Reluctant Action Hero act out his reluctance before finally, reluctantly, shifting into action gear? 30 minutes? 45? But the film handles some of the conventions ingeniously, it’s genuinely engaging and effective, and it works up a decent amount of excitement and tension.

In this one, Seagal is a fed-up DEA agent who quits his job, then returns to what he’s hoping will be peace and quiet in the paradisal Chicago ‘burbs. But a drug war is happening there, and his skills are needed. With the wonderfully soulful Joanna Pacula — what a pro she is — as a sexy plot device, and Elizabeth Gracen (former Miss America and Clinton bed-partner) as Seagal’s sister. Given that a lot of the movie consists of watching a white dude kick black-guy butt, the filmmakers were probably wise, or at least shrewd, to make both of Seagal’s good-guy sidekicks black.


About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog 2Blowhards.com. Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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2 Responses to “Marked for Death”

  1. Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

    Is this the one where he goes to Jamaica with a military-sized arsenal, but it’s not apparent how in the world he got all that weaponry down there?

    I love Seagal. Especially when he runs.


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