So once again we have survived.

Born To Raise Hell

tn_borntoraisehellIn BORN TO RAISE HELL Steven Seagal plays a commanding officer in the International Drug Task Force, a cooperative agency set up after 9-11 because like those ads say the drugs fund the terrorists. This is also a handy way for Seagal to use what he’s been learning as a deputy sheriff in New Orleans in a movie but then film it in Eastern Europe. His character’s partner was killed six months ago (no need for a flashback, they just tell us this) so I guess he’s out for justice or something. It’s not real clear.

While BORN TO RAISE HELL lacks the toughness and entertainment value of URBAN JUSTICE and PISTOL WHIPPED, it’s a little more memorable than most of the recent Seagal pictures, because he seems to care a little more. Admittedly there are some awkward voiceovers (I’m torn on whether it’s dubbed by a double or if it’s his own voice sped up to sound ridiculous), some of the dreaded avid farts and a scene where they use 6 cuts just showing a dude walking 10 feet from his car to talk to a guy. On the other hand Seagal is the sole credited writer and the movie definitely incorporates his recent hobby of taking part in drug raids and some of his beloved themes of brotherhood and redemption and what not.

mp_borntoraisehellAlot of the best stuff is the little details in the police work. These IDTF drug raids seem a little crazier than the ones in Jefferson Parish (for example one guy has a motorcycle in his living room and tries to drive off) and incorporate the classic Seagalogical motif of a guy screaming about his pain (“MAAAN that hurts!”). But Seagal definitely seems to use what he’s learned on the force and seems very comfortable yelling “Hands hands hands hands hands!” to a guy so he doesn’t have to shoot him.

Seagal’s character is constantly lecturing a new officer for his amateurish procedure. He’s the old vet and the hardass. I love the disgust in his voice when the other guy hits a junkie in the headquarters. “Why you hit ‘im whi– You’re not supposed to hit somebody while I’m holding ‘im, man!”

But despite being some kind of superior officer in this agency he doesn’t get his own office, he just has a desk kind of in the corner. It figures it would be something like that.

My favorite scene is when Seagal and partners are in a surveillance van and the guys they’re spying on spot them and come over and knock on the van. Seagal decides to take his lumps, by which I mean when he gets out they try to attack him and he beats the shit out of them, even kicking one of them through a park bench. And those things are usually well built.

The bad guys do their own form of raids, but they’re home invasions. They’re led by a guy named Costello, who it’s said is a Gypsy. He offends a Russian drug trafficker because instead of being a professional he’s a sicko that goes around raping and mutilating for fun.

Seagal ends up questioning the aforementioned Russian gangster, whose name is (this will surprise you) Dmitri. This is a very high ranking guy who lives in a mansion and his son wants to play chess with him in the park, but he won’t let him because he plays chess in the park as a way of meeting with all the crooks that need to come talk to him. When Seagal gets him in the back of a police car he decides to bash his own head into the window to make it seem like they beat him.

Not a good guy, right? But the important exchange in this scene is when Dmitri says “You should be chasing terrorists in Afghanistan, not me.” And Seagal says self righteously, “I’ve already done that, now I’m over here having fun.” I honestly didn’t see this coming, but this is a bonding moment. Dmitri is ex-Russian Special Forces, he’s got grey hair and looks a little like Brando. They have more in common than they think. Probly both fought similar people in different conflicts in Afghanistan. And they both have problems with Costello, who has a bunch of super model looking gals (some of them fire breathing artists) who cook and smuggle drugs as well as perform assassinations for him. Apparently Costello’s the one who killed Seagal’s partner, now he kills Dmitri’s wife so the American and the Russian form an alliance to take the motherfucker out.

Seagal’s character has a young wife of his own. He’s having trouble at home because she thinks he spends too much time away from home being a supercop. My favorite part of this girl-trouble subplot is when he says sincerely, “I didn’t mean to make a scene last night, I apologize,” and he’s referring to beating up some guys who attacked him in a restaurant.

There are not really the amount of action scenes we used to get in the old days, but there are at least some good parts. A highlight is when Seagal blasts holes in a dotted line on either side of a door so he can kick out a whole section of wall like he’s punching out a perforated coupon. He describes Costello as “not a magician, not a commando, not a soldier, not Jesus, just a fuckin Gypsy,” which is good because he’s able to beat the shit out of him without getting much of a fight back or any walking on water or forgiving people’s sins or pulling scarves out of his sleeves. I’m not sure why the characters in this movie are prejudiced toward Gypsies, by the way. That’s a little odd.

In the end (SPOILER) Seagal goes to meet Dmitri at the chess spot in the park. He tells him he’s sorry for his loss and gives him plane tickets out of the country saying, “This was a small gesture of respect.”

This is one of the things I like about Seagal. Sometimes he wants to impale the bad guy, sometimes he wants to help him escape. He’s always been fascinated with gangsters and lately with the Russian ones. In this movie the cop recognizes a sense of honor in the gangster and respects him for it. It’s a John Woo type theme but it also fits with the Seagalogy, going back to the famous “I need time to change” scene in ON DEADLY GROUND and more recently to STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMAN where he often feels sorry for the criminals he busts and says he wants to get them help.

I’m not clear why he’s Born To Raise Hell, though. That doesn’t seem like an accurate description of his destiny or behavior. I suppose he could be Liable To Cause a Ruckus, but I wouldn’t go much further than that.

BORN TO RAISE HELL is the directorial debut of Lauro Chartrand, a Seattle-born stuntman, fight coordinator and director of two episodes of Seagal’s upcoming show Southern Justice (or whatever it ends up being called). It has no release date in the U.S., but came out for Region 2 in October.

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 Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 3:33 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Seagal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

51 Responses to “Born To Raise Hell”

  1. Its about time Gypsie gangs got credit for being movie bad guys, because they can be a very nasty bunch who seem to exist outside of the law.

    Except for in France. Sarkozy just told them to pack up their caravans and fuck off. I like that.

  2. Sarkozy will be glad someone liked it, because no one in Europe likes his grand plan – besides the French nazis, that is.

  3. Well I’m certainly not a Nazi. Or French. I’ve just had some very close calls with the traveling community.

  4. In some parts of europe the gypsy situation (the gypsies AND the extremists gathering against them) are pretty terrible with no clear solution in sight. In most entertainment they don’t exist. Glad to see them in an action film, even if as bad guys. At least their existence is acknowledged. They really need some Black Dynamite type character to represent them in a positive light (and maybe act as a role model for youg gypsies everywhere.)

  5. Snatch had some positive Gypsy rolemodels…

  6. If you love Snatch and Star Wars go to youtube and type “Snatch Wars”. I swear it’s the funniest clip I’ve ever seen on that sie. Brick Vader is a lot harder than Darth. Now put the kettle on.

  7. one guy from andromeda

    January 10th, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Black Cat, White Cat did too. By the way, i think it may be insulting to say ‘gypsy’, then again they don’t really have a lobby, so fuck ’em i guess.

  8. what?

    no positive gypsy role models in the movies?

    i submit to thee and thine: Esmeralda, in the Hunchback of Notre Dame

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116583/

    voiced by some chick named Demi Moore

  9. “the movie definitely incorporates his recent hobby of taking part in drug raids”
    That’d be a cool thing to put on your “likes” list on facebook.

  10. Dislikes: bad guys, unshattered glass, puppy abuse

  11. I think that in the voiceovers it’s just his own voice sped up to sound ridiculous , because it’s happening even in the Italian dub of his movies , and in other movies , too. It’s becoming a staple in cop and action movies , the part-with-the-protagonist-talking-like-the-chipmunks. In a couple of years it will be as common as the shaky cam.

    I still have to see this , but I will wait for TV , because here Seagal is still big and we can enjoy his movies on primetime , but I’ve recently seen Machete , and that movie was really entertaining . Seagal was one of the best things in it , alongside De Niro , Fahey and Trejo himself . The only problem I have with that movie is the same I have with lots of Rodriguez related offerings : too many characters and lack of focus . For example , I can’t remember what the fuck happened with the Tom Savini character ! Is he dead ? Who killed him ?

  12. Some Wesley Snipes news : it seems that he’s working on a videogame . Smart move , since he will be away for a time , why not do some voice work ? The ad for the game looks cool too :

    http://wirelessmedia.ign.com/wireless/image/article/114/1143203/snipes-stars-in-new-game-20110110041800188.jpg

    I sure wish it was a movie . Looks like a more cerebral take on a Black Dynamite type of character.

  13. i love the sex scene in this one, where seagal is fully clothed the whole time and, his wife(that’s way to hot for him.)is butt-ass naked. seagal looks like a fucking bear mauling a doe.

  14. I don’t know which is funnier:

    ** [Born to Raise Hell] doesn’t seem like an accurate description of his destiny or behavior. I suppose he could be Liable To Cause a Ruckus, but I wouldn’t go much further than that. **
    or
    this early Easter Egg I found here — http://www.amazon.com/Rosey-Griers-Needlepoint-Men-Grier/dp/0802704212?&camp=212361&creative=383961&linkCode=waf&tag=outver-20

    I’ve discovered Vern’s token of BADASS juxtaposition.

  15. Mouth – a guy from Titan sent me that link too and encouraged me to do a footnote about it in Yippee Ki Yay Moviegoer. I should’ve bought it back then when it was going for a more reasonable price.

  16. I thought this movie was edited together with clips from Southern Justice, or am I wrong and that is another Seagal film.

  17. Also, Chud has up a pretty good “B-Movie” DTV preview for 2011 that I would love to hear you guys thoughts on. Out of respect for Seagal I will post it in Potpourri 2: Miscellaneous, so I do not derail this talk back.

  18. I was wrong, after rereading the B-Movie DTV preview for 2011 I just posted I saw that DEADLY CROSSING is the Seagal film that is made from SOUTHERN JUSTICE footage.

  19. Charles – I don’t believe this is edited together from SOUTHERN JUSTICE, DEADLY CROSSING definitely is though

  20. PacmanFever, your right. I looked it up after I made that post.

  21. The Russian crime lord looks like Brando? Hmmm–is it the same guy who played a Russian crime lord in DEFENDOR?

    DEFENDOR–terrible movie…I was no fan of KICK ASS and this made KICK ASS look like THE INCREDIBLES….

  22. Vern, you know I love and respect you and your reviews, which are frequently awesome. But I gotta say, this one takes the prize for “most awkwardly shoehorned-in THEY LIVE reference”. It figures it would be something like that.

    So we get “Machete” and “Black Swan” two months after everyone else in the world does, but Seagal’s latest and (to go by the review) most successful recent DTV effort hits Region 2 before the Americans get to see it? Score!

  23. Well, I’m jealous of the Brits for once.

  24. Charles, that indeed looks like a fantastic list. I’m pumped. And Vern has mad homework ahead in 2011. I hope the movie distributors realize that advance copies sent to certain critics will automatically multiply the sales & word of mouthiness [*wink*] of those titles. Just 2 years ago, I never would have imagined being an avid patron of DTV.

    You may detect that I want to say more than what I type here. Where’s that wall of text we too often see attached to that chick blowing the kiss? Truth is, I feel Seagalogically inadequate in the face of our host’s overwhelming expertise. Once I’ve finished seeing all the Seagal available and have read the accompanying scholarly text, all 396 pages of it, then maybe I’ll be more forthcoming with my input on this important chapter in BADASS CINEMA.

  25. Mouth, you are right about the quality of the list. Almost every movie listed I would be interested in seeing. They also have a great list of upcoming theatrical “B-movie” releases as well, highlighted by DRIVE ANGRY 3D Staring Nic Cage as a man that brakes out of hell to save his granddaughter from a satanic cult. It sounds like somebody is in line for a “Worlds Best Grandpa” coffee mug.

    I will post the theatrical list in Potpourri 2: Miscellaneous as well. The funny thing is I find myself more excited about the DTV releases then the theatrical releases.

  26. Why does Seagal get things released over here in the UK first? I’m not complaining, just wondering.

  27. Look, Ace, could you quit rubbing it in our face here? I get it. This totally makes up for all that mess between 1776-1812, etc.. Sorry about my pitchfork-wielding ancestors dominating your musket-wielding ancestors. We’re even. Let’s let it go.

  28. I would have been fine with the pitchforking, but then you didn’t send Justified over here the minute you made it. I can’t let it go.

  29. Random Seagal-related fact I discovered this week: when looking for a picture of Seagal as Mason Storm, I discovered there’s a pornstar that goes by that name. I wonder if she’s a Seagalogist?

  30. caruso_stalker217

    January 10th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Well, Stu, you made me Google “Mason Storm.” She isn’t black. I’m not interested.

    Not to take anything away from her work. I’m sure she gives it 110 percent.

  31. What exactly is the point of something like BORN TO RAISE HELL?

    Err wait, sorry. Had a weird flashback to last week. Apologies folks.

  32. Born To Raise Hell | The Life and Art of Vern I liked your article.Wonderful Topic.

  33. The correct name for “gypsies” these days are Romani or Rom. Since Seagal’s always been somewhat politically correct, I wonder why he chose Romanis as villains in Born to Raise Hell? Maybe he’s been hanging out with to many Russians lately?

  34. So I have an idea for a ON DEADLY GROUND squeal and I have been meaning to share it with you guys, and this post gives me a good excuse. It would be called ON DEADLY GROUND: WINGS OF FREEDOM. In it Seagal would reprise his role as Forrest Taft, now living in a modest cabin in the woods living off the land and at one with nature. Taft spends his days quietly studying and cataloging data on plants and wildlife, but one day his quite existences is interrupted by a large hunting party. Taft does some recon and we find out that the large group is lead by a wealthy Saudi prince who wants to hunt and kill a bald eagle “the symbol of American liberty & imperialism” accompanied by a sleazy oil lobbyist and congressmen. Well there is no fucking way Taft is going to let them kill a bald eagle an endangered species (actually you could also call the movie ON DEADLY GROUND: ENDANGERED SPECIES) on his watch. From there Taft stalks them and thwarts the hunting parties attempts to bag a bald eagle at every turn, soon the hunting party has shifted their focus and are now hunting Taft. But who is really hunting who? Taft begins to eliminate the hunting party in brutal and bloody fashion using a mixture of deadly booby traps and Seagal’s signature violent hand to hand combat with some one-liners peppered in there for good measure. Eventually only the prince, his body guards, the oil lobbyist, and the congressman would be all that is left. Despite having the entire rest of their massive hunting party wiped out by Taft they continue to peruse him. The congressman would at one point fall and brake his leg forcing the rest of the group except for the lobbyist to abandon him. Soon the helpless congressman and his loyal oil lobbyist pal would be confounded by Seagal. This would give Seagal the chance to deliver one of his signature monologues forcing the congressman and the lobbyist to seriously reconsider their life choices. Meanwhile while looking for Taft the prince and his body guards stumble across a bald eagle nest. The Prince attempts to shoot the mother eagle but misses. The gun shot alerts Taft to their position and he quickly abandons the congressman and the lobbyist and catches up with the prince where he quickly eliminates the prince’s body guards in a savage knife fight. With his security eliminated the prince takes off running with Taft in pursuit, but the prince soon cannot run any further when he reaches a cliff. Taft confronts him and begins another deep and existential monologue, but as Taft approaches him the Prince panics and slips off the cliff. The prince luckily garbs onto part of the cliff side and saves himself from plummeting to his death. Taft moves to try and help the prince up but before he can a bald eagle swoops in and pecks at the prince’s hands and head causing him to lose his grip and plummet to his death. Taft would then close the film with a to be determined one-liner and a smile. The End

    Yes, the movie is meant to be over the top but it would need to be done completely straight faced, and it actually has a subversive subtext about unnecessary extreme violence in the name of American ideals and symbolism. I mean it is not cool to hunt an endangered species, but that does not mean you deserve to be beat to death by Seagal. I think Seagal would be into it. It has a number of the motifs that he is loves (animals, nature/the environment, violence, and awesome monologues). The only thing it is missing is glass for him to brake. What do you guys think?

  35. Somehow connect the wealthy Saudi prince to terrorism funding in Afghanistan, then somehow connect Taft to the gorgeous widow of a GWOT veteran recently KIA by someone funded by the Saudi prince, and you’ve got yourself a Greenlight from Mouth Studios.

  36. As Tim Burton’s ED WOOD taught us, what is the one thing if you put it in a movie it’ll be successful?

    Tits.

  37. I doubt the insane genius of ON DEADLY GROUND can ever be repeated. I don’t think any studio is willing to give that kind of money and creative control to Seagal ever again.

    Well, at least not on the same scale anyway. Maybe he can do a DTV sequel. Instead of nuking an oil rig (for the environment!) in Alaska, Forrest Taft blows up a gas station in Vancouver, or something.

  38. Charles: It’s like “First Blood” but with eagles. I would totally watch it.

  39. There could be a LONG WEEKEND / NATURE’S GRAVE homage eagle attack!

  40. Charles, I want an executive producer as well as a co-writer credit, motherfucker.

  41. Mouth, good point, we need to figure out how to works some boobs in there! The executive producer and co-writer credit are all yours. Maybe there is an attractive former Playboy playmate type female investigative journalist trailing the hunting party because she is working on cracking a big story on the prince’s ties to the oil industry and terrorism. She would be caught snooping around by the hunting party and taken captive, then Seagal could rescue her, and of course the minute she lays eyes on Taft she wants to father his children.

    HT, I don’t really expect my idea to ever be made. I was just sharing it for fun, but I did try convince it with a budget in mind.

  42. “I was just sharing it for fun, but I did… it with a budget in mind.”

    Oh, them wacky Hollywood producers!

  43. Paul, just to be clear, I didn’t come up with the idea for ODG2 with a low budget in mind because I am hoping it will get made. The idea for the movie was the result of a conversation I had with a fellow Seagal fan about what our ideal Seagal DTV would be like. I am not in the entertainment industry. I am just an average working class joe.

  44. Does this mean I’ve disinvited from the preproduction cast party?

    Good DAY, sir!

  45. I think ON DEADLY GROUND: WHERE EAGLES DARE needs some Eskimos. The heart and soul of the first one was the dream sequence with Seagal’s spirit bear, so that needs to be repeated with a spirit eagle. Perhaps the hunters can come across an Eskimo village and start with the raping and murdering and kidnapping and whatnot.

    Also, Seagal needs to look like this by the end of the movie:

    http://www.toplessrobot.com/raptor%20with%20bird.jpg

    I’ll take my associate producer credit now, thank you.

  46. Mr. Majestyk, you are right that the dream sequence was one of the best parts of ODG, but I would put a twist on it. After Taft rescues the busty female investigative reporter she would be in bad shape from being abducted by the hunting party so he would use herbs and a one man Taft powered drum circle to help facilitate a dream spirit journey for her healing her in the process. See in the first film he took the spirit journey, but in this one he facilitates the spirit journey. The student has now become the teacher.

  47. Also, Mr. Majestyk, Taft could appear to the busty reporter in the costume you suggested in her spirit journey.

  48. “I didn’t mean to make a scene last night, I apologize,” and he’s referring to beating up some guys who attacked him in a restaurant.

    ah classic Seagal.

    The only thing I remember about On Deadly Ground is that it’s the one my dad and I saw together at the cinema. While Under Siege I saw with my mom, she always had the better taste.

  49. I saw Seagal’s DEADLY CROSSING recently. Its actually two episodes of his TV Series edited together. No Seagal dubbing here. It’s decent enough but watching it once is enough for me.

    Gil Bellows from ALLY MCBEAL shows up as a Russian Drug Dealer. Seagal also plays with a Samurai Sword and has an Asian 20 yr old girlfriend in this one.

  50. SEAGAL SIGHTING: For those interested Seagal was in the corner of UFC Middle Weight Champion and pound for pound king Anderson Silva last night for his title defense against Vitor Belfort. This is the second fight in a row that Seagal has been in Silva’s corner and part of his training camp. (SPOILER) Post fight in an interview on ESPN Silva credited Seagal for helping him work on the kick that he won the fight with in impressive fashion. I also think you can find footage of Seagal and Silva training on Youtube. At this point Seagal seems to be a regular member of Silva’s camp. It’s is pretty cool that one of the greatest pound for pound fighters in the world trains regularly with Seagal. I hope that if there is a season 3 of LAW MAN it has footage of him training Silva.

  51. Vern’s right on with this. There are a few scenes where Seagal uses his hands and kicks, but the gunfights are shot like shit and there’s just no fun to it. If Seagal wrote it, doesn’t he know that all that has to happen is bad guys kill his family and then he beats them up one by one?

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