June 20th: Seagalogical

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130. Out for Justice (John Flynn, 1991)           

Steven Seagal is a figure of fun nowadays. People like to mock the portly frame, the pony tail, the obsession with Eastern mysticism and the awful music. But there was a time when Seagal was a fast rising star of the action movie scene. Out for Justice is from this time, long ago – back when he was thin and the world was a simple place. There’s a great deal of fun to be had with a film like this especially given the insistence on opening with a written quote from playwrite Arthur Miller about the notion of neighbourhood and belonging, it is a brave start – hoping some of the great man’s gravitas will somehow lend itself to proceedings – it doesn’t.

You can play at spotting the actors who went on to bigger and better things, in this there’s indie stalwart William Forsythe and the gorgeous Gina Gershon. There’s a blink and you’ll miss it bit-part for Jerry Orbach, once again playing a New York cop – a role he occupied in Law & Order for so many years that if it weren’t for his appearances in other films I’d be convinced that was actually his job and he just occasionally appeared in film scenes by accident.

There’s even a book about Seagal that has been released recently, it looks like a very enjoyable read too, analysing his films to build a robust theory of ‘Seagalogy’ (Turns out there’s a whole damn website!). I’m sure it must cover Out for Justice at some point, being a run-of-the mill Seagal action film with occasional moments of dreadful acting. Seagal is Gino Felino (I shit you not) an Italian American cop (because Seagal is vaguely foreign looking) who occasionally wears a ridiculous beret for no apparent reason. If you expected anything more than this when you put that DVD in the machine then you must be crackers.

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