Aikido Master. Action Movie Star. Blues Musician. Energy Drink Creator. These are just a few of the ways you could describe the career of Steven Seagal. I recently was inspired by the outlaw film critic Vern’s new book Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal to go back and revisit the career of one of my earliest action heroes. I’m going to spend the next month reviewing Seagal’s oeuvre from the beginning. Some I’ve seen before, most I have not. This should be interesting…
GOLDEN ERA (1988-1991)
Above the Law (1988)
Seagal’s big screen debut. Some convoluted plot involving drug runners, refugees, and US senators. Lots of great fights and broken bones.
Hard to Kill (1990)
Debut of the ponytail! Seagal’s family is murdered and he spends 7 yrs in a coma. Once he wakes up its time for revenge on the evil senator.
Marked for Death (1990)
Out for Justice (1991)
Seagal at his bone-crushing best. William Forsythe plays a truly crazy villain. Great bar fight too. By far my favorite film he’s made.
SILVER ERA (1992-1997)
Under Siege (1992)
On Deadly Ground (1994)
Seagal took heat for his environmentally themed directorial debut. He was actually right but how does blowing up refineries help the earth?
Executive Decision (1996)
Seagal’s first supporting role and first time he is killed off. Seagal does a good job with the few scenes he’s in.
The Glimmer Man (1996)
Seagal’s first buddy picture is a pretty bad ripoff of SEVEN, right down to the perpetual LA rain. I still don’t know what the title means.
Fire Down Below (1997)
Seagal is off to Kentucky to investigate some toxic waste dumping and play some guitar. Good supporting cast makes this one quite enjoyable.
TRANSITIONAL PERIOD (1998-2002)
The Patriot (1998)
The beginning of the end – Seagal’s first DTV film. High production values can’t hide the fact that there’s hardly any action in this film.
Exit Wounds (2001)
Another supporting role for Seagal as a Zen bomb squad commander. A ridiculous amount of stock footage makes this one hard to follow.
Half Past Dead (2002)
Seagal’s last-gasp of a theatrical release. So many double and triple crosses make this film almost incomprehensible. The only PG-13 so far.
DIRECT TO VIDEO ERA (2003-PRESENT)
The Foreigner (2003)
Overly complicated and muddled plot finds secret service agent Seagal in Polland double-crossing the KGB.
Out for a Kill (2003)
Seagal plays a professor of Chinese archaeology at Yale. Yes, that Yale. This loopy film is one of the better DTV titles so far.
Belly of the Beast (2003)
Director Sin-Tung Ching brings his unique style to this film which has Seagal looking for his missing daughter in Thailand.
Out of Reach (2004)
Seagal plays a wildlife conservationist who travels to Poland to save his 13-year old pen pal from a slavery ring.
Into the Sun (2005)
A suprisingly strong entry in the DTV era. A battle with the Yakuza allows Seagal to add a lot of his own Japanese interests into the film.
What originally start out as a monster movie script was turned into another typical action movie once Seagal got involved in the production.
Today You Die (2005)
A great title and opening sequence made me think this might be a throwback to the 80s, but I was wrong. Another typical confusing DTV entry.
Black Dawn (2005)
Mercenary for Justice (2006)
Murky plot finds Seagal breaking into a heavily guarded prison to save the son of a eastern European drug lord.
Shadow Man (2006)
This film has some of the most blatant Seagal body doubles of the DTV era. Also co-stars Oscar nominated actress Imelda Staunton.
Attack Force (2006)
Seagal is sent to Paris to find out who killed 3 of his trainees. Turns out it was a super-powered hooker. No joke.
Flight of Fury (2007)
Urban Justice (2007)
Finally a DTV that is a throwback to the glory days of great Seagal films. Great action, cool villain. I really enjoyed this one.
Pistol Whipped (2008)
Not as strong as Urban Justice, but far better that most of Seagal’s later DTV work. Seagal creates a nicely nuanced character with flaws.
Kill Switch (2008)
Seagal plays a Memphis detective on the trail of a brutal serial killer. First time I saw someone get curbed since American History X. Ouch!
My Giant (1998)
Seagal briefly cameos in a movie Billy Crystal’s character is producing in this really terrible laugh-free film.
The Onion Movie (2008)