Hollywood can breed a whole army of action heroes that save the day or the world, dragging us to the edge of our seat and back. But for some people one star shines brighter: Steven Seagal. But hands up – how many have actually seen one of his films, let alone his complete output? Is that foolish oversight or a criminal miscarriage of justice?
Just as well the mighty Vern is on hand with his fun-filled bible, Seagalogy, to read and relish. Forget those false fist-flying prophets of Van Damme, Stallone and Bruce Willis, come and worship at the altar of the one true action idol…
With the obsession of a fan and the authoritative tone of a professor, Vern takes us through every film with attention to plot, themes, dialogue, influences and even politics. Above The Law, for example, contains footnotes on the Iran-Contra Scandal that inspired the plot. He transforms Seagal into an auteur worthy of world-class status and raises the geek to the level of quip-making scholar.
And like the common cold, Vern’s enthusiasm is infectious. He’s unleashed on the world of criticism like a bat out of hell. having caused a whirlwind of delight with reviews on Ain’t It Cool News, so we have Harry Knowles to thank for our Professor of Seagalogy. And isn’t it only right we show true respect to Steven Seagal, a hero often booted off the big screen and pushed onto straight-to-DVD land? A lucrative move for him and a good reason for Vern to launch into his crusade.
After all, this is not just a look at the world’s first aikido instructor turned actor, but also an all-round appreciation of a director/ writer/ blues guitarist and energy drink inventor who not only employs his martial arts training to fight the baddies but who dares to carry themes on indigenous cultures, environmental protection and even non-violence. It means that the completists in us all are treated to a breakdown of his concerts and adverts too.
Seagal’s work to date is divided into four periods. The Golden Age, includes his first film, Above The Law; the Silver Age of movies such as Under Siege; the transitional period of his straight-to-DVD genesis with The Patriot: and the all-embracing DTV era of an unleashed wealth of DVD-only successes including Flights of Fury. It’s a chance to get acquainted with the likes of Casey Ryback, Gino Felino, Nino Toscani, Sasha Petrosevch, Big Poppa and Max Ballister. And to help guide you through the depths of his action-packed world, there’s a breakdown of co-stars and baddies, fights scenes and common themes after every film. Completing the completist circle of cross- reference points, doesn’t that feel so Zen?
Seagalogy feels in part like a bad-ass interloper on the scholarly shelves but Vern demonstrates how, like its subject, the book can blend in and go native. This book shouldn’t exist in this form, it shouldn’t be so wise-crackingly funny, but it does and it is. After reading it, you might never need to see a Seagal film again. Or you might just feel compelled to watch his whole body of ass-kicking work. It might even help you win the specialist round of Mastermind. Unless Mr. Seagal has got there first.
Author: VernPublisher: Titan Books (paperback, rrp £9.99)ISBN: 1845769279