Picking up from our look at films 15 to 11 in the top 25 Steven Seagal movie countdown, here we enter the top ten…
If Steven Seagal films have taught me anything, it’s that sometimes running jokes can be taken too far.
Now, here are the five almost best Steven Seagal films, featuring a hammer, a samurai sword and a collective of chanting monks.
10. Kill Switch
His rules. His way. No exceptions.
Steven Seagal IS Jacob, a detective who plays by his own incredibly violent rules and gets results. Jacob is after The Grifter, a serial killer and total twat. An inexperienced FBI agent keeps getting in Jacob’s way and people keep going missing. Jacob is frustrated with a system that doesn’t seem to work; for example, he recently beat a guy up so badly that a judge decided to just let the criminal off (he’d had planted a bomb in a woman’s chest and Jacob beat instructions on how disarm it out of him before kicking him out of a window). The Grifter sets Jacob up, framing him for the murders and effectively flipping his… Kill Switch!
“Get me a fucking blanket!” yells Steven Seagal, in a moment that accurately sums up the charm of Kill Switch. It’s a big, dribbling, clumsy dog of a film, bounding around and knocking over furniture. It’s marred by hyperactive editing and some obvious stand in work, which is a shame. Still, Kill Switch makes up for it with its main battle, which sees Seagal beating up a serial killer in a bar, spilling potatoes everywhere as he does so. The killer grabs a screwdriver, which is meant to threaten Seagal. Unfortunately, aggressively raising a screwdriver to Steven Seagal is how you challenge him to a tool fight, and Steven Seagal loves tool fights. What is this leading up to? Kill Switch hammer fight!
9. Into the Sun
Only one man can stop the Yakuza.
Steven Seagal IS Travis Hunter, an American operative tasked with investigating the public assassination of a governor in Tokyo. Travis quickly works out that the murder was an attempt to draw attention away from the efforts of the Yakuza and the Tongs, who are setting up an operation to smuggle heroin out of Myanmar. They’re obviously going to struggle with this now that Travis is on the case, even if he is hampered by a bungling government-appointed sidekick. The dickhead villains make things even worse for themselves by killing Travis’ fiancée, which comes with a higher risk of death than running directly… Into the Sun.
Into The Sun is ridiculous. The Japanese mobsters in this film are unhinged, shooting everyone who dares to encroach on their screen time. The film works thanks to a decent enough script, some great work by the director (a chap called mink – lower case ‘m’ intended) and an invested turn from Seagal. It’s great fun to hear Seagal speaking in Japanese, to see him wandering around Tokyo and to enjoy him fighting lots and lots of people. The last 30 minutes in particular find Seagal in full on rampage mode. His Aikido style of fighting often sees him flinging people into furniture and other breakable things. Here, he utilises his villain-chucking abilities in an arcade and by sending a bastard through an 8th floor window. Then he hunts down the main bad guys with a samurai sword, with results even more gruesome than you’re expecting.
8. Fire Down Below
Beneath a land of wealth and beauty hides a secret that could kill millions. Undercover has never run so deep.
Steven Seagal IS Jack Taggart, a missionary visiting a small town to help out, doing odd jobs on behalf of the Church. When Jack finds his good deeds met with glares and suspicion, he knows that something is up. Sure enough, he finds that the local mines are being used by a large company to dump toxic waste. Fortunately for the environment, Jack is actually working undercover for the EPA and will stop at nothing to protect the land from greedy corporate colon clouds. Much like me watching a Steven Seagal film, he’s spurred on by a… Fire Down Below.
Now, perhaps fairly, I was concerned upon hearing of toxic waste being a plot point in Fire Down Below. Referring back to my notes, I appear to have responded by writing ‘Oh God, he’s gone eco-warrior again’. Fortunately for me, Fire Down Below is a much better film than the tree-tonguing On Deadly Ground. It’s cheeky, wacky and violent. Early in the film, a light piano piece informs us that Seagal’s penis has identified a female orifice it would like to explore. He goes on to romance the lucky lady in possession of said orifice by buying a significant quantity of honey (either that or there’s a cut scene where he ambushes a Pooh Bear). Then there’s the toxic waste, which looks like barrels of Predator blood. That said, it’s entirely possible that Steven Seagal has accidentally slaughtered everyone in a glow-stick factory. Fire Down Below is solid Sunday afternoon viewing.
7. Belly of the Beast
A father’s rage knows no limits.
Steven Seagal IS Jake Hopper, a former CIA operative. God knows why people are still kidnapping Steven Seagal’s characters daughters, but that’s exactly what balaclava-wearing wombats do. Seagal teams up with a former partner-turned-monk and goes on a fighting spree in an effort to rescue her. Along the way he is helped by a collective of monks, who chant away the damage done to Seagal by a nutcase with a voodoo doll, and encounters a woman who can magically summon a tattoo onto her exposed breasts. Jake must press on through all of this if he wants to rescue his daughter from the… Belly of the Beast!
Belly of the Beast is bizarre. To me, that’s its appeal. The story is typical of Seagal films, and especially so of his direct to video efforts, but is brought to life by utter lunacy. We’ve got wirework, black magic, brutal fight scenes, shoot outs, forward rolls and an incredibly violent finale. My favourite of Seagal’s direct-to-video movies, this one is notable for a rail yard shootout where we’re not supposed to notice that all the guys getting shot are just different camera angles of the same two guys and a market fight scene that sees a villain run from Seagal, only to slip, slide along a table covered in ice and fish and then impale his face on a cleaver.
6. Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
A top secret nuclear satellite. A team of international terrorists. A government held hostage. An undetectable moving headquarters. Only one hero stands in their way.
Steven Seagal IS Casey Ryback. Tasked with escorting his niece (played by a young Katherine Heigl), who he hasn’t seen since she was little, by train to her parents’ funeral, Ryback finds himself in the middle of a big money nuclear weapons hijacking. What terrible luck! Not for Ryback, of course, but for these idiots who keep attempting to be bastards with weapons on methods of transport without checking if Seagal’s about first. It’s up to Ryback to stop these railroad rotters before they blow up something important or kill his niece. If Seagal made the villains of Under Siege regret taking a battleship under siege (come back tomorrow for details), then he’ll surely make the villains here pay for taking a train… Under Siege 2/too!
Ryback is right back! “You think this is being shot? This isn’t being shot!” laughs Casey Ryback when questioned about his bullet wound. Under Siege 2 is a bit like that. In one scene, someone watches Seagal build a bomb from things he finds in a bar and the only ingredient they question is lighter fluid. Brief aside; this film features an awesome fire stunt. There’s also a scene featuring the villains standing around and gossiping about how good Ryback is. They must have seen Under Siege.
Under Siege 2 is more fun than you probably think it is. It’s not great, it struggles with a miscast villain (which is ridiculous because they had Kurtwood Smith right there in the film doing basically nothing as a good guy), but it’s light enough that it just about works. My favourite element of the film crops up around the middle; Seagal steals a vital CD and the films villain learns an important lesson about backing up your data. In fact, technology plays a key role here, with Seagal also utilising a fax machine to send for help.
“I guess I’m not trained for this!” In Under Siege 2 Casey Ryback realises that the greatest challenge of all is accompanying your dead brother’s orphaned daughter on a short train journey. Fortunately, he finds it presents similar challenges as his life as a chef, in that it seems to involve fighting murderers on a form of transport.
Under Siege 2 is perhaps most notable for the number of henchmen that Seagal throws off a cliff.
Part 5 of the top 25 Steven Seagal films is coming soon.
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