Action Heroes: Seagal – Marked For Death

In Marked For Death Seagal plays a retired… STOP! Why do all these action heroes play retired men of action when they are clearly in their prime?  Arnold was also retired in Commando. How do these lucky bastards get to just retire in these films and hang back and enjoy the good life? The armed forces really must pay a packet and a half if you can retire in your mid-30s. I’m there now, but retirement isn’t even remotely close in a publishing career!

Anyway, for his third film, Seagal takes on the old Jamaican voodoo gangs when they mark him for death after he knocks a few of them silly for being, well, bad guys. Seagal doesn’t waste words very often when in a fight. He very seldom backs off either. More often than not he’ll keep walking briskly towards his opponent and slap them around with a series of moves that are often hard to register. But at least the Foley artists make it sound like what he did was painful. Throw in a few hard shoves and maybe chuck the odd bad guy’s face into a glass case and it’s job done!

Keith David gets into the mix to help out as Seagal and his family has to survive drive-bys and assorted assaults. But Seagal doesn’t wait around for someone to hand him his ass, he seeks out the perpetrators. So it’s another “hunt for the bad guys” movie – and in the end leads to a small team assault at the bad guy’s compound.

Sadly, in between we also have to contend with some rather clichéd formula, and clichéd depictions of Jamaicans. Check out the voodoo priestess who our main villain has to assassinate as she actually manages to make some weird connection to him via the spirit world. It isn’t done very subtly and does detract you from what should be straightforward action.

That said, they’ve been given a half decent villain in Basil Wallace’s Screwface. Yes he’s a walking voodoo cliché, but the guy oozes evil. And he also comes with a twin brother in a surprise twist towards the end. That also means that Segal gets to kill the same guy twice. One loses his head, quite impressively, and the other gets the shaft! Nice work Seagal.

This was a better and darker film that Hard to Kill. Seagal didn’t get a chance to do much acting. But back here he was trying to cover as many bases as possible before taking on fresh ground. Marked For Death is by all means dated, but still watchable.

Steven Hurst

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