I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Vern’s Been PISTOL WHIPPED By Seagal!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

Vern’s my hero. If I could be anybody I wanted to be when I grow up, I’d choose to be Vern. His new book is one reason. This review is another.

This April marks (for death) the 20th anniversary of ABOVE THE LAW. Can you believe we’re that old? Two decades since Steven Seagal’s debut, arriving on the action movie scene fully-formed, already a star, already with his iconic look (well, he didn’t have the ponytail quite yet), already with his shadowy CIA past, his intense knowledge of Asian tradition, and his drive to take on the corrupt and throw them through panes of glass.

Alot has stayed the same in those 20 years, but alot has changed. He got bigger. His movies got bigger (UNDER SIEGE), then smaller (THE PATRIOT). He moved from the big screen to the DVD. By my way of thinking he’s gone through three major periods of his career and is now late in the DTV Era.

Pistol WhippedIt’s been years since he’s gotten good reviews or mainstream respect (opening weekend of 2001’s EXIT WOUNDS to be exact), but that hardly matters. I’ve rarely met a Seagal-critic who could even name the movies he was trying to make fun of. What did matter was when Seagal started to disappoint his actual audience. Movies like OUT OF REACH were patched together with obvious voice and stunt doubles subbing for Seagal, SUBMERGED and ATTACK FORCE were sci-fi movies rejiggered to remove the mutants and aliens, leaving their stories muddled and incoherent. The last straw might’ve been last year’s FLIGHT OF FURY, where the producers tricked Seagal into making a movie with a script they’d already used for Michael Dudikoff’s BLACK THUNDER. Worse than that it’s built around Seagal flying jets, even though the audience will never forget he’s sitting in front of a green screen and not flying the jet in that stock footage. Shouldn’t he be throwing guys through windows?

But an aikidoist fights best when backed into a corner, so after Seagal’s recent low point he seems to be turning ferocious again. The first sign was last year’s URBAN JUSTICE, a vicious straight-ahead avenging-the-death-of-my-son movie with Seagal obviously redoubling his efforts. It was full of violent action, great one-liners, a surprisingly good villain performance by Eddie Griffin of all people, and plenty of fight scenes that prove Seagal still gives a shit. How much of a shit? Enough to kick a guy in the balls 11 times before throwing him down the stairs. 11 ball kicks = good effort.

The one thing I thought URBAN JUSTICE could use was more of the personal Seagal touch. It had the fast aikido asskicking and badass persona of Golden Era Seagal, but not much of the weird touches and heart-on-his-sleeve sincerity that makes Seagal’s movies Seagal movies. I thought if he could combine some of that with his newfound elbow grease he would have something, and I was right. He would have PISTOL WHIPPED. But PISTOL WHIPPED is not just recharged DTV Seagal, I think it shows signs it could be a new stage in his career. A new Seagal with a slightly more mature outlook. No, seriously guys, hear me out. (For justice.)

In PISTOL WHIPPED Seagal plays his most troubled character ever. He was kicked off the force because they thought he stole money. His wife threw him out because he was a cheat and a drunk. His best friend and partner married his wife. His daughter is disappointed in him because he’s always hung over on visiting weekends and ditches her. Also he’s addicted to gambling and owes over a million dollars to three different bookies. Oh, and also Lance Henriksen and Paul Calderon are forcing him to assassinate people for a secret government agency. And this makes things worse because sometimes he has to stalk people on the weekends he’s supposed to be with his daughter.

This might be a turn-off for some people, but PISTOL WHIPPED is much more story oriented than URBAN JUSTICE. It’s not lacking in mayhem and brutality, but it does spend plenty of screen time on concerns such as improving relations with his daughter. I like that because it’s new for Seagal. You gotta take advantage of what you have, and one thing Seagal has is the look of a guy who’s been through alot. Let’s see Matt Damon or Ryan Reynolds play a washed up alcoholic ex-cop trying to be a better father between assassinations. They’re not ready yet.

The media may get more and more obsessed with young, pretty, soul-less people every year, but that doesn’t change reality. The fact is that older people make better badasses. Seagal will turn 57 next month. Charles Bronson was older than that by the time he made DEATH WISH II. Lee Marvin I guess was in his ’40s for most of his best stuff but he got up there, he was about Seagal’s age now when he and Bronson did DEATH HUNT in ’81. By my math it looks like Clint Eastwood was 62 when he started doing movies like UNFORGIVEN, IN THE LINE OF FIRE and BLOODWORK that dealt with his age.

I think Seagal’s stepping into his version of that type of material now, or like what Stallone started with ROCKY BALBOA. Now he not only has his CIA/black ops backstory, he also has the backstory of his earlier movie career. Even if we didn’t know his past we’d see it on his face. So it’s great to see him finally acknowledging that in the stories. He’s now a veteran, a father of grown children, a guy who had a life once but screwed it up. In fact it’s a strong parallel with the status of his filmography. As his character (simply called “Matt” by the way) struggles to stop drinking and make his daughter like him again, Seagal is struggling to make better movies and get his fans excited again.

The thing is pretty well put together, too, with plenty of cool and ridiculous action to enjoy. Seagal runs slo-mo through a graveyard firing in different directions without even looking. He sets up a bunch of matches and lights them by grazing them with bullets. He stabs a guy with silverware. His most badass move (SPOILER) is at the end when he asks his fatally wounded former friend/current foe if he wants to be buried or cremated, and when the guy says buried he blows up his car. How often do you see an anti-hero kill the bad guy AND disrespect his burial wishes? Not often enough, in my opinion.

Before anybody gets too excited, I should mention that nobody gets literally pistol whipped in this movie. That may be an oversight but I think the title is a play on the term “pussy whipped.” He’s henpecked by his pistol.

Henriksen is only in three scenes, but he’s an important character and does have dialogue with Seagal. I’m a big fan of Henriksen, who seems to put his best foot forward even in the worst crap he somehow ends up in, so it’s great to see him finally cross paths with Seagal. But Calderon has a much bigger part so he gets the distinguished guest star trophy this time. If you don’t know Calderon by name you might still remember him from small parts in KING OF NEW YORK, BAD LIEUTENANT, COP LAND, CLOCKERS, OUT OF SIGHT, etc. Also I looked him up and it looks like he’s played about 7 different characters on various LAW AND ORDER shows. He’s the guy who almost played Jules Winfield but instead played the bartender: “my name is Paul, and this is between y’all.” He’s slick and wiry, a complete physical opposite of Seagal, so he makes a great nemesis and sort of colleague.

The script by J.D. Zeik (who wrote the original script for RONIN before David Mamet got his hands on it) is masterful DTV Era Seagal. It takes the sort of betrayals and shifting morality of Seagal pictures like THE FOREIGNER, BLACK DAWN, MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE and SHADOW MAN and forms them into a more cohesive and colorful story than before. This might be Seagal’s definitive statement on that “sometimes you gotta get your hand dirty” theme.

So there are all kinds of interesting things to analyze here, but more importantly I’ve watched it a couple times already and just enjoyed watching it. So, as one of North America’s leading Seagalogists I declare Steven Seagal officially back in business just in time for his 20th year as an action star. He’s gone platinum. Buy that man some china.

PISTOL WHIPPED hits the shelves next Tuesday, March 4th. ABOVE THE LAW turns 20 on April 8th. Read about both movies in WAY more detail in my book SEAGALOGY, available from Titan Books May 20th.

(whoah, I felt like Herc for a second there)

–Vern

P.S. Random Seagal news: the trailer for THE ONION MOVIE – which has been sitting on a shelf almost as long as Mason Storm was in a coma – appears as an extra on the DARJEELING LIMITED dvd. Seagal’s part in COCK PUNCHER (a movie trailer parody) is featured prominently. The movie probaly won’t be funny but at least if they really release it on DVD it will stop being at the top of Seagal’s filmography on IMDb.

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/35793

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:07 a.m. CST

    I’m gonna take you to the bank…

    by BrandonGK

    To the blood bank!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:09 a.m. CST

    “I’m just a cook”

    by _SnakePlissken_

    a lowly lowly cook

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:12 a.m. CST

    This is for my wife

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    Fuck you and die.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:14 a.m. CST

    Sorry, I usually try to refrain from profanity

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    but it’s a classic line. Truth is I haven’t seen anything of Seagal’s in ages. I haven’t seen anything since Under Siege 2, and haven’t seen all his up to then. However, Above the Law and Hard to Kill are on every guy movie list. Nuff said.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:14 a.m. CST

    Makes Me Wanna See a Seagal Movie . . .

    by kevinwillis.net

    How fucked up is that? What’s next, a Jean Claude Vandamme revival?

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:17 a.m. CST

    The DTV never dies!Thanks Vern……

    by travis-dane

    I hope you are right and Seagal gets back in full asskicking mode!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:24 a.m. CST

    “masterful DTV era Seagal”

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Genius.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:43 a.m. CST

    Seagal has what others don’t

    by teh ran

    the audience behind him when he’s kicking ass!! Fire down below is my favourite Seagal film and it’s a great example of action and story working perfectly. There’s nothing about that film I could criticise and I’d never get bored of watching it. I’m looking forward to Vern’s book here in the UK!!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST

    “11 ball kicks = good effort”

    by thatpeterguy

    Aaah Vern. Good to have you back buddy.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:52 a.m. CST

    by comparison…

    by teh ran

    I remember when Harry made a big deal about Arnie’s turn in End of Days where he was playing a washed up cop and how it was so convincing and almost made him cry (I think that’s the gist of it), however it turned out to be a pile of crap with the Austrian Oak ™ just turning in another stilted performance, because he lacks the ability to emote in the English language. I agree that Seagal needs to mature in outlook, but he can still kick ass. One of the most believable scenes I can remember is the final scene in Unforgiven, when Clint say’s ‘I’ll come back and kill every one of you son’s of bitches’ and I believed every single word of it!! That’s where Seagal needs to go because he’s an intimidating guy.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:54 a.m. CST

    Unforgiven 2: Electric Boogaloo

    by teh ran

    A Seagal western…I hope there are some studio hacks reading!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 7:59 a.m. CST

    My fav Seagal films (who knew that I actually had favorites)

    by Stalkeye

    1.Under Seige Mostly due to Tommy Lee Jones’ villian Stranix and not to mention Gary Busy: “Do I look like I need a psychological evaluation”? while dressed in drag.
    2.Marked for Death: In which Seagal takes on a Jamaican druglord..twice!

    3.Under Seige 2: Once again the villians outshine Seagal with quotes like “..yeah, I faked my death just to catch you two fucking” and “you ruined my coat..”
    4.The Glimmer man: Nice pairing of Seagal and Wayans with a *gasp* good plot for a Segal vehicle, however the part in which Wayans says of Seagal’s character:”He fights like Bruce Lee, but only better!” was blasphemous. WTF!?!

    My main gripe with Segal’s movies is that the fucker never breaks a sweat or puts up a challenge.With him everything is “all too easy” shit, even Rambo nearly get’s his ass handed to him.Akido can only get you so far ’till some fucker antcipates your move and counter via kick to the nuts or a well placed shuto to the throat.let’s see some humility for a change Stevie.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:08 a.m. CST

    Good stuff Vern.

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Reading that review brought a smile to my face.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:19 a.m. CST

    I know the guy who wrote this

    by BackwardGalaxy

    The director called him up one day, all apologetic, and said, “He’s (Seagal) just making lines up now”. Nice.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:29 a.m. CST

    11 ball kicks? Oleg did 11 ball kicks before he was born!

    by ironic_name

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:48 a.m. CST

    He lost weight for Urban Justice

    by grampageezer

    I just rented Urban Justice and was glad to see Seagal back to his old form, unlike Flight of Fury, which was ridiculous. I can’t imagine a fighter pilot flying at 80,000 feet and not using his oxygen mask. But then again, how would we know it’s him if we couldn’t see his face?

    Seagal appeared to have lost a lot of weight for Urban Justice and there were plenty of scenes where he appeared in full-body shots kicking butt like the old days and not just from the waist up, like his last 5 or 6 movies, For a while there he was getting as wide as Marlon Brando.

    Gotta give the man props for losing the weight and rejuvenating his career.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Fact: Henriksen makes everything better.

    by Sledge Hammer

    Even if only for the duration that he’s actually on screen.
    Anyway, an enjoyable Seagal film again? The dickens you say!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 8:57 a.m. CST

    Seagal, Eastwood, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van-Damme, Dudikoff,

    by DarthBakpao

    …Kurt Russell, David Carradine, Chuck Norris, Mark Dacascos, Alain Delon, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Chow Yun-Fat, Jackie Chan, Sonny Chiba, Yasuaki Kurata, Michael Pare, should all do an action movie together

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:09 a.m. CST

    Lets face it, Vern

    by Franklin T Marmoset

    You are not ONE of the top Seagalogists; you are THE top Seagalogist – probably on the planet. Does anyone dare challenge your knowledge of Seagalism? I don’t think so. In fact, I highly doubt even Steven Seagal knows as much about Steven Seagal as you do.
    My hat is off to you.
    P.S. On an entirely unrelated note, fuck Rifftrax. Just garbage, I can’t believe they can afford to advertise on AICN (or maybe it’s just that cheap to advertise here, I don’t know). Anyone in the mood for alternative commentaries should, of course, check out the guys at Adudathuda Studios.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:11 a.m. CST

    DarthBakpao, you forgot…

    by Sledge Hammer

    Steve James, Rutger Hauer, Richard Roundtree, Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Gary Busey, Sho Kosugi, Carl Weathers, Sonny Landham, Nick Nolte, oh, and Michael Biehn as the “military guy”. .

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Vern getting better at ripping-off Joe Bob Briggs

    by joshtownsend

    Or maybe you could call your reviews homages. I actually enjoy reading these ‘reviews are more enjoyable than the movie’-reviews and think your a good writer.

    But something in the back of my head thinks there are a few dog-eared copies of joe bob briggs’ books in the prison library with VERN SPERM making the pages stick.

    Glad I got that off my chest actually signed up to see if you’d take a public stance on any these allegations.

    Funny article. Add in some fu’s and give a breast count i’d think it was Joe bob briggs in his prime.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Thank you Vern! and a request

    by Kloipy

    Loved the review, and as a new watcher of Seagal, I will put this on my list to see. Could you please review Pumpkinhead 4? I saw Lance was in it again, and I’ve heard it’s actually not half bad, but I’d trust your review if I could get one. Thanks

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:49 a.m. CST

    WHERE IS “HARD PANDA”?

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Charles Durning as the voice of the panda. True story.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Steve James is dead.

    by travis-dane

    He died in the early 90`s.RIP.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:11 a.m. CST

    O.k Vern, your book is on my Amazon wish list

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Can’t wait.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST

    Joshtownsend

    by Gilkuliehe

    I never heard of that reviewer and after your post I went and checked him. And sorry but that Joe Bob guy has nothing on my man Vern. Sorry. Just take any movie both guys have reviewed and compare. Vern wins. And is completely different in style and execution, so there.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST

    You’re right frg10

    by Stalkeye

    How the fuck could I forget Above the Law which was Seagal’s major debut? with underated Henry Silva as the heavy and Blaxploitation goddess Pam Grier as his partner (Jax) it should be right under Under Seige on my list.
    That’s what happens when I recover from Happy Hour after work.I did’nt care much for Out For Justice. Forsythe always delivers (even in The Devil’s Rejects.)but that intro in which Seagal throws that pimp through the car window, with the title “Out for Justice” was a bit too Nacho. (cheesy)
    Oh yeah poor Stevie (James) died of pancreatic cancer awhile ago, unfortunatley he never had major roles outside of American Ninja and I’m gonna get you sucker.On another different subject I wonder who QT will cast for the Inglorious Bastards remake? There’s plenty of out of work action actors to choose from.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:35 a.m. CST


    by Read and Shut Up

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:36 a.m. CST

    “I’ll Take Him to The Bank. The BLOOD Bank.”

    by Read and Shut Up

    Best worst SS line, from the Citizen Kane-like “Hard to Kill.”

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:44 a.m. CST

    by redkamel

    man I think I am going to buy this movie just for that last line about being buried vs cremated. I literally almost sprayed my water all over my keyboard, and its not even 9am

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Josh

    by Vern

    I categorically deny your accusations. I do remember a column from that dude ran in a paper here back in the ’80s and I liked his subject but not really his whole shtick of listing how many boobs and shit. I have not followed him at all but I have to admit when I listened to his commentary on I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE I realized he deserved more credit than I thought, that is a very smart and entertaining commentary.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 10:58 a.m. CST

    On Deadly Ground, only cause it’s unintentionally funny.

    by StudioPlant69

    I loved your father (met him for the first time the day before) and I loved the spirit world. Saving the environment…by blowing up an oil refinery? R. Lee Ermy – “You could drop this guy off in the Artic circle naked and he’d be at your door with a million dollar smile and fist full of pesos” Now that’s comedy gold!

    Michael Caine in all his hammy over the top goodness! A pre Oscar Billy Bob Thorton. The silly slap fight/bar fight scene – cinematic history! All of it written, starring, and directed by Mr. Seagal. Oh and I am seriously man crushing on Vern, in a non-gay way.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 11:33 a.m. CST

    DarthBakpao and Sledge you both forgot

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jet Li, Bolo Yeung, and Jason Satham. The name of the combined movie should be “Too Many Bad Mo Fos For Your Bitch Ass to Handle.” Now who did I forget?

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 11:54 a.m. CST

    Vern, you are correct. Out for Justice is the best SS film

    by Stuntcock Mike

    The violence is mean-spirited. The way it should be.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Absolute best moment of Urban Justice

    by reverend jack sayer

    was the Golden line: “I’ma be doin’ the f—in’ now.”

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 12:23 p.m. CST

    ahem.

    by reverend jack sayer

    “I’ma be doin’ the FUCKin’ now”

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Vern

    by brycebishop

    Are you the same guy who so vociferously stated that you were an ADULT and therefore didn’t care to know about comic ‘strips’ on the Justice League message board? Yet here you are gleefully recounting the artistic merits of Steven ‘One-Face, One-Voice’ Seagal. You have the cojones to talk about Seagal’s “heart-on-his-sleeve sincerity”?!?!?!?! Gimme a break, dude. Steven Seagal belongs in the DVD bin at Wal-Mart, and there he’ll stay.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 12:40 p.m. CST

    POWER-THIRST

    by beefywhore

    Try Steven Segal’s Lightning Bolt energy Drink…its like a Cherry Flavored Lightning Bolt in a can!!!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 1:03 p.m. CST

    Vern – I believe you

    by joshtownsend

    Thanks for clearing that up. I actually signed up just to ask you that. I think you do write very entertaining columns about bad movie and maybe thats why you come across so similar. You should check it some of Joe Bob’s classic ’80s reviews and you can see the similarity. Anyway keep up the good work and stop letting your politics get in the way of your film criticism,

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 1:04 p.m. CST

    by joshtownsend

    please….I mean of course

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 2:19 p.m. CST

    Liked Urban Justice…

    by Mastastic

    ..and I’ll definitely be picking up Pistol Whipped.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 2:34 p.m. CST

    speaking of van damme

    by GavinVanDraven

    i am watching The Shepherd tonight…. JCVD’s new flick… maybe i will post a “review”. or at least let you guys know if it sucks or not. i havent seen the new seagal one, but he kinda lost me a few years back….

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Segal vs. Van Damme!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by crackerfarmboy

    I demand it!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Thanks Vern!

    by BillyPilgrim

    Great review!
    I’ve been a closet Segal fan since Out for Justice. He’s had flashes of greatness on his DTV’s. But the flashes were few and far between. Generally leaving you with a sad feeling cause they reminded you of his past greatness. I’m hoping that this movie is his climb out of the cesspool. May he rise like a phoenix and spread his Segalian joy to the little children of the world. This new generation needs to learn the secrets of the 11 ball-kick way.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 3:17 p.m. CST

    two things i like about Seagal

    by Prossor

    1.his villains are mule mean but he steam rolls through them, it makes me giddy to watch

    2.he seems to look out for the little guy, the folks who always get picked on. a true hero!!

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 4:43 p.m. CST

    Well done on the Titan deal Vern!

    by Sasha Petrosevitch

    Another great review. The trailer looked weak but I’m excited again. Great to hear Seagalogy’s getting a big relaunch. I read imported the original self-published volume and enjoyed it a lot. I hope to self-publish publish my own Seagal book later this year. It’s called The Steven Seagal Fan’s Guide To Film Studies and it’s not a joke.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 4:56 p.m. CST

    The Shepherd: Border Patrol

    by Vern

    I have high hopes for that one – the director did UNDISPUTED II which I finally caught up with recently and it was surprisingly good. The hype on THE SHEPHERD is that it’s supposed to have ten times as much martial arts as the last 8 Van Damme movies, and this director is good at that sort of thing.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 5:09 p.m. CST

    Bryce

    by Vern

    Come on dude. I wrote a long, well thought out post bringing up many points and questions about that movie. And krack responds to not one single idea that I brought up, but lashes out angrily at me based on one fucking word, I used “strip” instead of “book.”

    I thought it was nitpicky and superficial, so my reaction was to fuck with him. I think it was pretty obvious including to krack that I was just fucking with him by saying “how am I supposed to know? I am an adult.” If not, I also posted below apologizing for talking trash and explaining why I did.

    If your goal is to bring more respect to the medium of adult funny books maybe you should start by not following me around in other talkbacks giving me shit about something so petty. That way you are not promoting the stereotype of comic pamphlet fans as humorless, pedantic, cape-wearing individuals obsessed with insignificant details.

    In conclusion, I would like to respectfully request that you get off my fucking balls. Thanks Bryce.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 6:37 p.m. CST

    Good shit, Vern

    by caruso_stalker217

    PISTOL WHIPPED is going on my “shit that I’ll eventually get around to seeing but I’m broke right now and can’t afford to throw money away on the DTV” list.

  • Feb. 29, 2008, 9:33 p.m. CST

    “I’m gunna keep comin’ back till somebody tells me about…RICHI

    by MrMysteryGuest

    Seagal as an Italian-American! Prime Oscar material! (he said sarcastically)

  • March 1, 2008, 2:09 a.m. CST

    Steve James

    by hamslime

    You can add him to the list of bad-asses. Too bad he’s dead. God should have taken David Bradley instead.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Seagal sucks!!!

    by andyman3000

    He’s way past it, his movies, just like his acting abilities, seem to get worse. He’s like an emotionless robot.

  • March 1, 2008, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Matt, not a typical action hero name

    by Spandau Belly

    They’re usually John or Jack, or anything that ends in ‘er’ like Hunter, Craner, Pouter, Punter and then a stoic one syllable last name like King, Dane, Brick, Block, Chalk, Brake or whatever.

    Who knows, maybe someday we’ll get a Todd as an action hero.

  • March 1, 2008, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Trik_Ster

    by Vern

    ON DEADLY GROUND and FIRE DOWN BELOW are his only environmentally themed movies, unless you count OUT OF REACH since he works on a wildlife preserve at the beginning and end.

    I don’t think he has ever done a movie where he’s “a member of an oppressed minority,” though. You may be thinking of THE PATRIOT where he was formerly married to a Native American, or ON DEADLY GROUND where he meets some Inuits.

    I recommend the book SEAGALOGY to help you strengthen your knowledge of Seagal motifs.

  • March 1, 2008, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Spandau

    by Knuckleduster

    Kurt Russel was called Todd in Soldier, and he was baaaad-motherfuckin-asssss. Good review, by the way, but Vern kinda lost me saying Seagal could play something Damon couldn’t. Sure, Seagal’s the right age (I don’t know what experiences he’s had in life, but I’m sure he’s had quite a few), but Damon can, well… act. Anyhoo, hope Vern’s book does well. I’ll be checking it out, if only for his writing. I’m afraid it’s probably not gonna make me watch more Seagal flicks. I made that mistake last year when Vern told us about his book. It made me think “Mmm, maybe I should give Steven Seagal another shot”, so I went out and rented Into The Sun, since I’d never seen a DTV Seagal movie before. Big mistake. Hated every second of it. Guess I’m just not a Seagal guy. I mean, I can sit back, crack open a beer and enjoy an episode of Walker with my mates (that’s some funny shit, man), but ol’ Steven just doesn’t do it for me. Can’t help thinking the guy’s an ego-feeding jerk in real life. Could be wrong. Maybe I just don’t like his face. Also, Chuck Norris has a beard. Real men have beards.

  • March 1, 2008, 6:52 p.m. CST

    Grammaton Cleric Binks

    by Munro Kelly

    That sounds like a great movie and the title is awesome. If that was ever made, I’d be there opening day.

  • March 1, 2008, 7:09 p.m. CST

    Vern

    by Munro Kelly

    In a previous talkback, I was one of the people that recommended Undisputed 2 to you. I just knew it would be your type of flick and I was right. I just read your review of it on your site and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I believe that Scott Adkins is about to be huge soon. Keep an eye on him.

  • March 1, 2008, 11 p.m. CST

    Seagal running slo-mo..

    by otm shank

    I’m sorry Vern, but I think that was just him running normal. Great review though. I’ll check it out.

  • March 2, 2008, 1:10 a.m. CST

    The rumor of Seagal as the bad guy in Rush Hour 3

    by GibsonUSA

    should have been true.

  • March 2, 2008, 2:11 a.m. CST

    Knuckleduster

    by Vern

    The reason I brought up Matt Damon is because he’s an example of the modern action movie where they have a “real actor” as the star, and manage to make him convincing as an asskicker. Seagal and Van Damme can’t compete with him in acting, so I was offering age as one thing Seagal should take advantage of to have an edge over guys like Damon.

    Of course, Wesley Snipes has both the classical acting chops and the martial arts so maybe there should be a movie where he fights against Seagal and then acts against Damon.

  • March 2, 2008, 3:39 a.m. CST

    Vern: Just throwing this out there.

    by hamslime

    Any chance I can convince you to write a screenplay and maybe get Sam Firstenberg out of retirement to direct it?
    I’m willing to bet you are capable of writing one hell of an action flick. You could call it “A Force to be Actioned With” or “Crackdown in Lockdown” or you could even give it a good title.
    My birthday is in October so I figure you should have just enough time to complete it by then if you start right away.

  • March 2, 2008, 3:41 a.m. CST

    Sledge Hammer & Grammaton Cleric Binks…

    by DarthBakpao

    good calls, especially Bolo Yeung and Sho Kosugi! Now on with the list : Ti Lung, Sammo Hung, Amitabh Bachan, Mithun Cakravorty, Hiroyuki “Henry” Sanada, Frank Zagarino, Roger Moore, Ralph Macchio, Christopher Lambert, Peter Weller, Ivan Drago, Marc Singer, Patrick Swayze, Brian Bosworth, Jimmy Wang Yu, Yuen Biao

  • March 2, 2008, 3:57 a.m. CST

    Other bad asses

    by hamslime

    Tony Tulleners and pretty much any arm wrestler in Over The Top, especially Alka Seltzer guy.
    “My body’s like a machine, this is a fire-plug, and I’m gonna light him up!”

  • March 2, 2008, 8:04 a.m. CST

    Just watched Pistol Whipped

    by Stuntcock Mike

    Needs more Lance. Otherwise damn good DTV.

  • March 2, 2008, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Have to admit I like the Snipes.

    by Knuckleduster

    I actually miss seeing him on the big screen (are there any good DTV Snipes movies that are worth watching? Haven’t seen any of them). God, I’d love a Black Panther movie with Snipes in it. And once that’s done, give us a Blade/Panther team-up.

  • March 2, 2008, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Knuckleduster

    by Spandau Belly

    I’ve never seen Soldier, and you’re right there are exceptions to the action hero naming conventions. But you get my point that there’s a whole range of normal names that American men have, but you rarely see action hero characters named stuff like Andy or Todd or Albert or whatever.

  • March 2, 2008, 11:46 a.m. CST

    and Matt Damon will be awesome old

    by Spandau Belly

    I’m sure this guy is going to grow into looking more tired and badassed with age and playing characters with appropriate maturity. Fuck, I’ll be there opening night for Bourne 7 when he’s not even sure if it’s his old amnesia or his new alzheimers making him forget shit.

  • March 2, 2008, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Attention Vern: There is no such word as “alot.”

    by NapoleonDynamite

    “A lot” is two words. As a former writing teacher, this is a huge pet peeve of mine.

    That is all.

  • March 2, 2008, 1:24 p.m. CST

    I liked this the first time….

    by dr sauch

    When it was called The Last Boy Scout. No seriously though, I hope this is good. America is not America without Segal.

  • March 2, 2008, 1:42 p.m. CST

    I’d like an action hero named Willie.

    by Knuckleduster

    It would be even cooler if he was a hardcore hippie stoner who, much like Popeye, needs his spinach before he can get into non-stop asskicking mode. And he has a fat girlfriend named Rainbow. And a three-legged dog named Peace. And a black Vietnam vet buddy with a big fucked-up afro and a bandana, who goes by the name of Agent Orange. And he always wears purple because it fucks with the bad guys’ heads. “Why’s that motherfucker wearing purple in the jungle?!” BLAM! Scratch one baddie… I need to write this shit down. Right after light this cone…

  • March 2, 2008, 6:22 p.m. CST

    Napoleon

    by Vern

    well, how do you know things haven’t changed since you stopped being a writing teacher? In my opinion things have changed alot.

  • March 2, 2008, 9:44 p.m. CST

    what’s this obsession with seagal?

    by cloudrider`

    it’s scary to me that someone would be that much of an expert on seagal movies. how could one love (great)movies and love seagal at the same time? the two things contradict each other. even his best movies are the epitome of mediocrity. i guess i will never understand the obsession.

  • March 3, 2008, 12:32 a.m. CST

    cloudrider vs, Seagal

    by The Skeptical

    No cloudrider, it’s not the contradiction, it’s the juxtaposition. There is honestly a weird kind of greatness that Seagal conveys. Seriously–You point out that his movies have been occasional bubbles of mediocrity in a sea of crap, yet he still connects to fans despite all of that. Can you think of anyone else with that kind of magnetism? I mean, he still gets spoofed on late-night. His Mountain Dew add is still on of the most requested commercials on youtube. It is this strange interplay that fascinates Vern, and so many of us. And you can take that to the bank.

  • March 3, 2008, 6:08 a.m. CST

    Don’t worry, Cloudrider.

    by Knuckleduster

    I don’t really get it either. Well, on the one hand I understand the fascination over the Seagal image/persona. The guy’s pretty much the epitome of the cheesy action hero who takes himself way too seriously. It’s even funnier because he doesn’t seem to be in on the joke (but I’m sure he is). I love the Seagal jokes and watching his ads and shit, but I simply can’t watch his movies. Above The Law was on last night. I tried, God knows I tried, but I turned the TV off after 20 minutes (can’t believe I lasted that long). Still, there are a lot of people out there who take him seriously. The guys’ movies have made more than half a billion dollars worldwide, so someone must be watching.

  • March 3, 2008, 7 a.m. CST

    I’d like an action hero named Phil

    by Spandau Belly

    With a hyphenated last name. Phil Grant-Krasansky.

  • March 3, 2008, 7:49 a.m. CST

    Dennis McClane

    by Spandau Belly

    Andy Shaft, Steve Bond – 007, Willie Rambo, Dirty Isaac Callahan, Albert Matrix, Sammy P. Bourne, Tim Spartan…

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 8:01 am and is filed under Action, AICN, Reviews, Seagal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Vern’s Been PISTOL WHIPPED By Seagal!”

  1. I have been rereading “Seagology” and trying to catch up on some of Seagal’s better DTV movies, and I recently watched this one and THE KEEPER. THE KEEPER was OK, but I really enjoyed PW. Also, I am surprised that you did not mention Seagal’s one liner at the end after killing the bad guy. I think it was something like “Well, you are cremated now mother fucker”. Great stuff! Now on to URBAN JUSTICE and INTO THE SUN.

  2. The Original Paul

    August 11th, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Watching PISTOL WHIPPED at last! I thought I’d give myself a treat after ATTACK FORCE.

    So far it’s had the most realistic poker scene I’ve ever seen in a movie, I think. A man goes “on tilt” after a bad loss and calls an overbet to a pot with two pair and a four-straight on board. That’s the kind of shit that actually happens in a poker game.

    I gotta be honest, I’ve read Vern’s review, spoilers and all, so I know some major plot points. But I’m enjoying this nonetheless so far. Living up to its positive reputation. Seagal wears his age better in this one than he has in the last several DTV films of his that I’ve seen.

  3. The Original Paul

    August 11th, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Ok, avid fart editing of a panning shot of Seagal’s clothes while he’s getting frisky with a twenty-something graphic artist. (At least it wasn’t an action scene!)

    Seagal: “I’d like you a lot less if you had a dick. Especially if it was bigger than mine.”
    Artist: “I don’t think that’s possible.”

    I want to meet the person who wrote those two lines of dialogue, and shake their hand.

  4. The Original Paul

    August 11th, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Ok. Aside from a few distracting avid-fart moments, this one was great. I loved the moment (highlighted by Vern in SEAGALOGY I believe) when the bowling alley guy gives Seagal the “strike!” symbol after he’s killed the guy’s abusive employers. The movie has several moments like this.

    It therefore pains me to report that after the “twist”, the movie falls to pieces. The action scenes get a helluva lot more ambitious, and unfortunately that ambition is not matched by the ability of whoever was directing them to make it clear what the heck was going on. There’s two big action scenes – an afternoon shoot-out and the final action scene – where there’s just an obnoxious amount of slow-motion put in for no good reason whatsoever. Mostly it’s of anonymous stuntmen, who don’t much resemble anybody actually acting in the movie, diving over cars or doing exaggerated “oh my Gawd I’ve been shot!”-pratfalls.

    That first action sequence, for example, ends up with the people chasing Seagal and Calderon get hit by a car, which flips over their heads in more obnoxious slow-motion. (This is the style of slow motion that I’ve railed against in the past, and for good reason. Good use of slow-motion is to punctuate a significant or important moment – that bit in HARD BOILED, in the middle of that action scene, where one of the protagonists realises that he’s just killed a cop by accident for example. This is not that style of slow-motion. This is the “Hey, look at our fantastic effect! Look at how well we’ve done it! Look at it for five seconds while we stop the movie dead, just in case you don’t appreciate how good an effect it is!”-type slow motion.)

    The thing is, regarding that car that flips over the pursuers – I don’t know where it came from or who was in it. It might be a main character or just some anonymous passer-by who got unlucky. I have no freaking idea. Nor do I have any idea what happened to Henriksen’s character at the final action scene. The last time I noticed him, it looked as though he’d been shot in the shoulder. After that, I have no idea. Did he survive? Was he the white-haired guy who got shot and did a slow-mo backflip while conveniently facing away from the camera so we couldn’t see his face? I’ve watched that scene twice and I have no fucking clue.

    All this is annoying enough, but what really kills it is that the whole thing is scored with the same fake-sounding guitar music that I disliked in HARD TO KILL, and that that music is set way too loud. It’s just there, and it’s obnoxious. It’s not dynamic – it doesn’t get louder or stronger when there’s a particular action beat or anything – it doesn’t adjust according to the mood of the scene. It’s just so much constant noise. Gave me a headache.

    The movie ends by setting up two quite brilliant “beats” that would’ve been really interesting to see, and then cops-out on both of them. The first involves what seems to be a moment of genuine respect and cameraderie between Seagal and the dying villain, completely spoilt by the “cremation” line and subsequent explosion. Immediately afterwards we see his daughter’s horror at watching her father blow up a man she knows well and has grown close to… only it’s not horror at that at all, it’s horror that Seagal might’ve been blown up himself. Another wasted opportunity. It would’ve been a nice ending for the daughter to have had a bit of last-minute character development where she had to come to terms with her father’s work, but nope. They go for the less-interesting, more-contrived ending instead.

    Oh well, at least the scene in the church was good. A nice beat to end the movie on.

    Yeah… this one completely had me until the final twenty minutes, then spoilt it with some awful action scenes and off-putting character moments. It’s a pity because it’s probably Seagal’s best DTV effort until that point. I hate that once the villain is revealed, or at least after Seagal accepts him as such, there’s no acknowledgement at all of their shared past or anything. It’s like “We’re enemies now, let’s kill each other.” There’s a bit at the end where it looks as though we’ll get a moment like this, but they blow it (literally) for the sake of a dumb-as-hell one-liner. I like Seagal movie one-liners but this was not the time or the place for one. And without that added emotional tie, the villain becomes just another scowling mastermind with no appreciable personality. God knows what Seagal’s character’s wife thinks about this. (Also, what’s with this movie’s obsession with defiling religious places / symbols?)

    I’m a little bitter about this one because it’s way, way, way better than ATTACK FORCE, on every level. Seagal wears his maturity better than he has in years, the minor characters are more memorable, the cast is just all-round better. I said recently that I wanted to see a DTV-era Seagal movie where I could enjoy it on its own merits, not by laughing at the ludicrously bad moments in it. PISTOL WHIPPED is that movie. For the majority of its running time, it had me. I was all ready to write a glowing review here, singing its praises. And then it fucked it up at the end. Damn it.

  5. The Original Paul

    August 11th, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    And in case I sound too bitter above, I do want to make it clear that this is the best Seagal since EXIT WOUNDS, easily, of the ones I’ve seen at least. Even though I think they flunked the ending badly, this is still the case. It’s just… man, I wish they’d nailed the landing.

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