REVIEW: Hard to Kill
Hard to Kill marks the return of Steven Seagal after he made his big screen debut in the 1988 classic Above the Law. I have to give credit where it's due here. Seagal really kicks some ass in this movie. Granted every fight is blatantly setup to maximize the exposure of his martial arts skills, (I believe Aikido is his art of choice, correct me if I'm wrong dorks) but when he starts tossing bad guys around and breaking their elbows and wrists with a variety of joint locks, it really doesn't matter.
Once again playing a police officer, this time named Mason Storm, he uncovers a politicians evil plot and eventually brings down the wrath of the law and mob on himself and his family in an effort to silence him. Mason Storm video tapes Vernon Trent (played by Bill Sadler), who is running for a seat in the Senate, cutting a deal with the mob to rub out his opponent and guarantee his election. Unfortunately for Storm, his cover is blown by some very corrupt cops in his department, and he and his family are Marked for Death (title of yet another classic Seagal film)!
Prior to returning home, Storm stops at a liquor store to obtain some spirits to enjoy with his wife while they watch the Oscars. While making his purchase, after a brief exchange with the store's owner, a group of shotgun toting bad guys enter.....their goals are immediately apparent. After pillaging the cash box, they shoot the clerk and prepare to do battle with Storm. Big error! This is the standard setup I was referring to earlier. The hoods could have just shot him, but why do that when they could fight him instead? Another great thing about this scene is that there are mats layed out all over the floors of the liquor store, in preparation for this martial arts demonstration. Storm kicks the shit out of three of them easily, and earns a shotgun as reward for his work, before facing his final opponent, a well tattooed gentleman played by Robert LaSardo. You've most certainly met Mr. LaSardo as he is typically cast as a thug, bad guy, criminal, or in this case 'punk'. Standing before Storm with only a knife, this is where any smart individual would flee. I mean he just beat the crap out of your buddies who were holding guns, and you are gonna fight him with a 5 inch knife? The punk however does not heed my advice. Storm in the first of many instances put's his rifle away as he deems it 'unfair', and takes him on hand to hand, and eventually tosses him through a display case of finely aged Scotch. An act that still to this day makes Fletch weep.
Returning home with his bottle of aphrodisiac, Storm liquors up his wife, and gets her ready for some sweet sweet love. Their night ends abruptly as Trent's henchmen enter the Storm household and turn their sex session into full blown orgy. Storm is shot twice and watches as his wife is killed before he passes out. His boy Sonny manages to escape through a window.
At the hospital which is populated with police, feds, internal affairs and even Vernon Trent who cleverly gives an emotional news broadcast that reduces him to tears.....diverting any attention away from him and his men. Storm is pronounced dead and the police make their ways to the exit, all except for Storm's friend Lt. O'Malley. Just before leaving O'Malley is grabbed by a doctor who says Storm now has a pulse and is in a coma. O'Malley quickly gathers the hospital staff, and proceeds to hide the fact that he is still alive and prepares to put Storm into his own personal witness protection program.
We find Storm many years later in the coma ward of a hospital where he is labelled a John Doe. Under the care and supervision of Nurse Andy Stewart (played by then wife Kelly LeBrock) she pines for the day he will one day wake because like any good nurse takes timeout to repeatedly check out his penis....to which she can only respond...'PLEASE WAKE UP'. There is little doubt in my mind that Nurse Stewart has ridden the coma hog in the past.
As luck would have it, Storm finally does arise from his deep sleep, and Nurse Stewart, moist with excitement, follows the instructions left by O'Malley. Unfortunately O'Malley has since left the department, so her phone call is intercepted by Trent's corrupt police officers who immediately plan to finish him off.
Barely escaping from the hospital, Stewart takes Storm to a secluded ranch home that she is house sitting for a doctor on research in China, Storm plans his revenge. He begins training in a very well equipped gym, a conveniently located mountain for running, and sets up a crude heavy bag like device made of a plank of wood wrapped in hemp and driven into the ground. Enter training montage.
Storm returns to his old house which is currently under new ownership, and also being sold. Pretending to be a potential buyer, he makes his way to the kitchen, and begins punching through the sheetrock within an alcove that at one time held the refrigerator. Behind the sheetrock wall, is the video camera and tapes that contain the evidence of Vernon Trent and his mafia friends cutting deals years earlier. Ok, lets break this down.....after obtaining some wine at the liquor store and returning home, he says "Honey, let me get you something to drink", which is a clever ploy to hide his camera, Storm pulls the refrigerator out, cuts a hole in the wall, places the camera and evidence behind the wall, replaces the sheetrock, spackles and tapes the sheetrock, waits 6 hours for the spackle to cure, then paints the wall so it appears as though its never been damaged, returns the refrigerator to it's original position, and then delivers the promised glass of wine to his wife moments later. Suspend disbelief? Or total bullshit?
After some clever detective work by Nurse Stewart, she finally makes contact with Storm's old friend Lt. O'Malley, via his mother. O'Malley has kept Storm's boy Sonny safe from harm since he escaped through the house window. Now reunited with his old friend, and knowledge of his still living child, Storm does the only thing he can. He works out. Enter second training montage. This montage ends with a twist however. Stewart enters the work out room, sporting a tight cocktail dress and brandishing a rose which she offers to Storm. "I thought you could use a rose", says Stewart, which as you all know is code for "Make me feel like a whore". Storm, gentleman that he is, obliges.
Fresh off a good work out and banging, Storm is ready to finish off Senator Vernon Trent (yes he was succesfully elected after Storm was taken out, the mob proceeded with their plans to remove Trent's political opponent....very similiar to how our current President won his first election). Easily breaking into Trent's mansion ( by breaking a basement window.....ummmm.....nice alarm system....ok suspend disbelief), Storm makes his way through the house from floor to floor, fighting bad guys along the way (thing Kung Fu the video game) including a sweet billiards room fight, that provides us with many examples of the versatility of the pool cue.
After a storm of beatings (I'm here all week!), Storm finally finds his wife's killer Senator Trent. The final battle is anything but. It's a rather one sided beating, as Storm tortures Trent for a few rounds prior to finishing him off. As Storm prepares to kill him, the cops bust into the mansion and reveal that they have seen his video and arrest Trent.
The rest of the movie is an overblown display of police officers and news reporters sucking off Storm and announcing to the world how fucking great he is. Hard To Kill is definitely one of Seagal's finer on screen moments, and accomplishments. As far as martial artist's go, his acting is probably among the best, I know that's not saying much, but when compared to the likes of Van Damme, Don 'The Dragon' Wilson, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan (in fairness to all of them, English is their second language), Seagal is an Academy Award winner. Seagal is good, but he is no Dolph Lundgren. Dolph Dolph.
Hamlin Grade: 4.5
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