Sunday, June 29, 2008

Seagalogy: On Deadly Ground

My girlfriend and I have been reading Seagalogy, which is just a fantastic book. It sounds like a stunt, because who would really want to watch every Steven Seagal movie, let alone write a book about them? But it turns out that this isn't one of those "snark" books, possibly because that wold be too easy. No, it's an actual critical study, examining the themes that link together all of Seagal's movies.

The theory is that while it's more common to look at all of a director's movies, when you have an iconic actor like Seagal, you can consider his movies as a group. And it's true! Seagalogy starts with his early (great) movies like Above the Law and Hard to Kill, and points out that in the first few movies, a big deal is made out of how his characters traveled to Japan to learn aikido, but after that the movies just accept it and move on. There's also some great examination of which characters have Shadowy CIA Pasts, and the many ways that are found to have characters talk about how awesome Seagal is. It's a really great book, even if you don't care about Steven Seagal. I strongly recommend it. And I can't emphasize this enough: it's neither gratuitously mean nor slavishly fannish. The review of Seagal's band is insightful and sympathetic. And hilarious!

So, having read it, we naturally felt like we wanted to see some Steven Seagal movies. You know, now that we're fully versed in the man's ouevre. Unless that means "eggs".

On Deadly Ground

This is an extremely Seagally movie. It's the only one he directed himself, and it's actually one of the only two with explicit environmental themes. And he goes around in a silly fringed buckskin jacket blowing things up and humiliating Mike Starr in a bar scene suspiciously similar to the one in Billy Jack. It's a lot of fun in a weird way, because although I liked it, I never felt like I liked the main character. He's a big bully, if you ask me. And the end, where he tortures and kills Michael Caine, is pretty cold-blooded.

And then there's a four-minute Environmental Speech at the end. Apparently it was originally eleven minutes, and it is a crime against humanity that the original cut isn't available somewhere. It's pretty dull as it is, and that's why I didn't go see Al Gore's movie, which is pretty much the same thing except with Powerpoint. In my experience, Powerpoint very rarely improves things.

No comments: