Thursday, 7 February 2008

The Internet Disappoints Me Once More

Many moons ago I considered starting a chain of posts regarding my favourite movie explosions, because I get a big kick out of film pyrotechnics, and had hoped to start with the crazy bridge explosion from the end of The Long Kiss Goodnight. Sadly, I took it for granted that it would turn up on YouTube, and ended up posting about something else.

Well, as a result of faffing about all day and not getting anything constructive done, I thought hey, time to be lazy and post a YouTube clip and wonk on about it! Easy. This blogging business is a piece of piss. Sadly, the internet has let me down again. Why oh why oh why has no one put the amazing helicopter explosion from Andrew Davis' Under Siege on YouTube? I can find a million clips from Black Dawn, for crying out loud, but only a couple of badly recorded clips from Under Siege. This is as good as it gets; the trailer, featuring a quick shot of the stunt at the end.

His most successful film! It's probably Warner Brothers pulling them down, which is understandable, but very sad for those of us who want to pay tribute to the awesomeness of Steven "Blues and Explosions" Seagal taking out a Huey (or something) with a knife, a can of paint thinner, and a grenade, and then jumping over the side of an aircraft carrier as it bursts into a ball of orange flaming death. It really is something to behold. So, another post ruined, for which I am eternally sorry. To make up for it, I figured I should post a clip that is arguably even better; the gratuitously brutal bar scene from Seagal's masterpiece, Out For Justice, directed by the late, great John Flynn.

Out For Justice was the first Seagal movie I ever saw, and it never got topped, which is kind of a shame, but it was good enough that I would continue to follow his career even when it went wonky and unpredictable. So good that I would buy Ticker, possibly the third worst movie ever made. So good that I would strongly consider buying a copy of Out For A Kill, the second worst movie ever made (the first is Lars Von Trier's pompous burning-turd-bag of a movie, Dancer In The Dark, which sadly does not feature Seagal). So good that I'm going to buy another copy of Vern's Seagology even though I already downloaded the ebook a while back. So good that I actually like his Thunderbox album, Mojo Priest. He's no B.B. King, obviously, but it's kind of a fun album, if you're willing to be forgiving.

There is so much to love in this scene. The outrageous brutality, the stick fight, the running gag with the phone booth. Introducing a killer pool ball is a magnificent touch; the sound effect of it banging against the stone floor being replicated whenever it crashes into teeth and skull is sickening and intimidating. Even better is Seagal's line readings and dodgy accent, something that sounds off throughout the movie but goes totally berserk here. "Anybody seen Rich-EEE? Anybody know why Richie did Bobby Lu-PO? I'm gonna keep coming back til somebody. REMEMBERS. Seeing Rich-EEE!"

My personal favourite moment is when he preceeds an order to the gathered bad guys to stand on the pool tables with the whiny line, "You know Vinnie, ah'm startin' to get inuh bad mood, you know. Maybe it's my moodswings, or my hormones, I dunno. Maybe it's my need to impose my will." Obviously this doesn't faze anyone, and when he fires two bullets into the ceiling to get everyone's attention Vinnie chastises him about it because there might be people upstairs. I love that he genuinely seems confused for a moment, like he forgot where he was. Anyway, check it out.

Enough about Seagal. Turns out this week there was another fight that happened this week, one that gives even that epic battle a run for its money. Conan vs. Colbert and Stewart. Obviously it shows that without writers the show hosts have really started to run out of ideas and only a fight pastiche could adequately fill the air time, but that doesn't dim its brilliance, nor the novelty of seeing TV hosts pretending to kick the shit out of each other, or Colbert's startlingly good impression of Bruce Lee's nimble footwork.

Remember, Steve, don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory. [/Obnoxious Enter The Dragon reference]


Masticator said...

I too remember Out For Justice as a seminal cinematic (well, video) experience and agree that Seagal has never topped it. It was a good thing none of those pesky gangsters had a gun, though, eh?

I wrote a review of Mercenary For Justice a couple of years ago:

“In the 1991 film Out for Justice, Steven Seagal played a cop whose best friend was killed, leaving him to seek revenge and protect the dead man's family. In the 2006 film Mercenary for Justice, Steven Seagal plays a mercenary whose best friend is killed, leaving him to seek revenge and protect the dead man's family. Totally different, you see, because it's about mercenaries.

This is a passable action thriller, pacily directed by Don E Fauntleroy, and makes the most of an evidently small special effects budget. The weak link is Seagal, who with his paunchy appearance and whispery voice is an utterly unconvincing crack mercenary. As cinema it's laughable, but on its own terms it's decent, if violent, entertainment. [3 stars]”

Obviously I didn't have much space, and was trying to be kind to it and review it as if for an audience likely to be appreciative, but I'd like to reiterate here how badly it compares to Out For Justice. While the earlier film transcended its limits to produce a taut thriller and at least one iconic scene, Mercenary was so impressed with its ability to film in exotic locations cheaply that it seemed to have written the plot around them, rather than matched the locations to the script. The result is a completely unnecessary and baffling bank heist, which completely changes the tone of the film. And Seagal's films are nothing if not tonally consistant!

There was the core of a solid, traditional Seagal thriller in there, but the filmmakers kept buggering it up with poor pacing that presumably allowed them to linger gratuitously in whichever leisure-friendly part of South Africa was standing in for Anycity, USA. Is it because Seagal has too much influence over the filming or the finished product (or both)? I can't imagine the likes of John Flynn or Andrew Davis making such a botch-job.

Also, as you know, Dancer In The Dark is amazing.

johnilf said...

I get all tingly whenever i read about Seagal, i love the man!! I even went to see Thunderbox at the Robin 2 in Tipton last year, fond fond memories. He did get a bit spazy during his guitar solo's though, i got scared and didn't know whether he wanted us to leave or not.I will sign off with that and hope Admiral devotes a lot more blog time to the the man that is Seagal.