Monday, November 22, 2010

'Marked for Death' is a good Seagal movie

Marked for Death (1990)
Starring: Steven Seagal, Keith Davis, and Basil Wallace
Director: Dwight H. Little
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Recently retired DEA undercover agent John Hatcher (Seagal) is drawn into a conflict with a Jamaican drug lord (Wallace) when an old friend (Davis) comes to him for help. But when it appears the drug gang wields true supernatural powers born from voodoo rituals--rituals that are soon targeted at Hatcher and his family--will this "one last job" prove too much for Hatcher to handle?

"Marked for Death" is a fast-paced action film revolving around the usual neigh-invulnerable Steven Seagal kick-ass character. Everything in it is over the top, but it all adds up to great fun and lots of mindless mayhem. If you enjoy your action heroes with a side of late 1980s Batman-esque comic book violence (where criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, and supernatural occurrences may or may not be clever hoaxes) you're going to get a big kick out of this film as it careens from set-piece fight to set-piece fight, with a few well-staged chase scenes and car crashes in between. The film offers no great surprises for experienced action movie fans, but everything here is competently done.

The cast all do a fine job in their roles, none of which required great range but almost all of which were physically demanding. Stars Keith Davis is decent as the stouthearted sidekick; Basil Davis manages to exude some serious menace as the drug lord voodoo priest, with enough physical presence and charisma that viewers can feel like Seagal's character is in danger of losing the big final battle; and Steven Seagal is still at the top of his game in this film, fit and trim enough to both be believable as a martial arts expert and able to do his own fight scenes and stunts.

If you've never seen some of Seagal's older movies--but have only been subjected to the increasingly bloated version of him that's been lumbering across screens since 1996 forward--you should check out this movie. It's a great example of what those who speak fondly of him and his movies are thinking of when they do so.

Trivia: The 2003 Seagal vehicle "Belly of the Beast" follows almost the exact same plot as this movie, playing out like an incoherent remake of "Marked for Death", complete with Voodoo-wielding villains. Click here to read my review.


  1. I loved his early movies, he was one of my favourite action/martial arts heroes, and this was on of his outings I enjoyed the most.

    P.S, you made the top5 in The Best Action movie blog in the blog awards, I'm not sure if you received the e-mail

  2. I've been swamped these past several days, so i've been bad about checking email. Thanks for pointing it out... I will do so right now!