Bullet Points: Marked for Death
No matter how many DTV disasters Steven Seagal is involved with past, present or future, Steve Seagal will continue to get roles in movies for as long as his heart desires and he’s able to snap people’s arms.
How is this possible? It can be directly attributed to the massive amount of goodwill Seagal built up with his fans in his first five films… Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice and the peak of his movie career, Under Siege! To churn out that many good movies back to back over a four year period of time is pretty damn impressive.
Of the five films I mentioned, my favorite Steven Seagal film is 1990’s Marked for Death…
- You Can’t Go Home Again: In Marked for Death Seagal plays John Hatcher. After his partner Chico is killed in the line of duty while the two were working undercover in Colombia trying to take down a drug lord, John steps away from his job with the Drug Enforcement Agency and returns home for some much needed time with his family and some old friends. But John Hatcher’s hometown is not exactly the way he remembered it. There’s a new criminal element in town, a Jamaican posse selling drugs. It doesn’t take a former DEA agent like John Hatcher to know the type of damage drugs can do to a community and the people in it. The “you can’t go home again theme” is not an uncommon in the world of action entertainment. We’ve seen it before in movies like China O’Brien, Only the Strong, and the movie that really popularized the theme, Walking Tall starring Joe Don Baker.
- That’s What Friends Are For: Hatcher goes out for a few drinks with his old friend Max (played by Keith David), Max tries to encourage John to help him get rid of the drug dealers in their town. For Max the drug problem is extremely personal, as the high school football coach it pains him to see any his players get caught up in the world of drugs and his own nephew died in crack house. John tells Max he is not interested. After years with the DEA, John is tired and weary from fighting the war on drugs. But when some of the members of the Posse show up and start making trouble at the bar, John’s instincts kick in and he springs into action.
- He Really Screwed the Pooch: By fighting back against the Posse, John Hatcher made himself a very dangerous enemy in the form of Screwface. Screwface wants all the Hatchers dead so he orders that the Posse attack The Hatchers and attack them they do. Even John’s young niece Tracey (played by Danielle Harris of Halloween 4 and 5 fame) was not spared and ends up clinging to life in the hospital. Screwface was an awesome villain in this movie. He had a great look and the evil magic he possessed put him ahead of your everyday garden variety action movie villain, one could even go so far to say that Screwface was TWICE the villain most villains are! Screwface was also filled with bravado. I loved that he didn’t think twice about stepping on the mafia’s toes and selling his product on their long standing turf. You gotta love a villain who has no effs to give.
- You’re Screwed Now: Any reservations John Hatcher had about getting involved in this war have been thrown out the window, just like the dude who defenestrated himself when Hatcher was looking for information on Screwface. When John learns that Screwface has returned to Jamaica, he rounds up his buddy Max and an old cop buddy Charlie (played by Tom Wright of Men at War fame) and the trio go to Jamaica to hunt Screwface down in his own backyard.
Marked for Death has all the elements that made Steven Segal so popular when he burst upon the scene. It is Seagal at his Steven Seagal best, busting people up, shooting people up, delivering some classic lines and doing it all like only Steven Segal can.
And while I was never a die hard Seagal fan growing up, I can’t deny Marked for Death is one awesome action flick! It is a movie I can watch again and again, unlike Attack Force, which I couldn’t even watch once.
Now if you’d like give these bonus Marked for Death Bullet Points the once over…
- Best Quote: “One thought he was invincible… one thought he could fly. They were both wrong.” – John Hatcher
- Disturbing Quote: “I wouldn’t sell you the sweat off my balls.” – Jimmy Fingers
- Air Quotes: I felt like the TV news reporter should have used Dr. Evil style air quotes when she referred to the Jamaican gangs as a “posse”.
- Disclaimer: “The posse phenomenon is estimated to be a fraction of one percent of the Jamaican population and should not detract from their country or the contributions Jamaicans have made to this country.”
- Screwface Strikes Back: The sword fight at the club between Hatcher and Screwface gave me some really strong Empire Strikes Back flashbacks, maybe it was the lighting.
- Familiar Face: The one and only Danny Trejo makes a brief appearance at the start of the film when Hatcher and Chico are working in Colombia.
- Nudity: I forgot just how much nudity Marked for Death contained.
- Spoiler Alert: I know this may come as a shock to a lot of you, but this movie ends with the action hero killing the villain. But the kill in this movie deserves some type of an award for being the most definitive kill in action movie history. Hatcher really makes sure that Screwface isn’t coming back with a triple threat of blinding the man in violent fashion, breaking his back and then impaling him. If there was ever going to be a Marked for Death 2, Screwface was not coming back for it… unless Seagal’s triplets line wasn’t just a funny quip.
- The Music Man: I was completely unaware of Steven Seagal’s musical inclinations. The song “John Crow” on the Marked for Death soundtrack was both written and performed by Jimmy Cliff AND Steven Seagal. Give it a listen…