I saw Hard to Kill in the theater when I was about to enter middle school and found it ridiculous then. Maybe I was perceptive as a child, but I really just think the film is low caliber. Steven Seagal is Mason Storm, an ass-kicking undercover cop that knows kung-fu and how to deliver snappy one liners at the appropriate time. After videotaping a clandestine meeting between a politician and mobsters, Storm is targeted for death. His wife is killed, his child’s whereabouts are questionable, and Storm ends up in a coma for many years. When he wakes up he enlists Kelly LeBrock to help him and heads for a remote cabin, where Tai Chi, silly punching and kicking, and sexual intercourse nurse him back to his former state. From then on the film consists of constant fights, bloodshed, and chases, complete with even more one liners. That’s all there is to it.
There’s not much to this film; it says that excessive force is justified when necessary, regardless of just about anything. Vigilantism is acceptable because an authentic tough guy declares it so and not many questions are asked. Granted, we are shown that the “bad guys” in question are legitimately trying to kill Seagal, but since he’s pretty much invincible I don’t believe that adopting a Charles Bronson ala Death Wish attitude is necessary. Aside from the beginning of the film, it seems like Seagal is not just hard to kill, but impossible to kill. Realistically, most of the attacks thrown against him should’ve killed him instantly yet, just like the title of the film, he’s just not going to die.
The film was pretty profitable, costing around $10 million to produce and bringing in over $47 million domestically. I, like many other Americans, contributed money to this inane film and it made movies like Under Siege (which is obviously a higher budget production) possible. After my diatribe against Hard to Kill, I don’t want anybody to think it’s not worth watching. On the contrary, it’s a highly entertaining piece of dribble. For those that enjoy bad action films, Hard to Kill will satisfy and is a perfect example of what makes an action movie silly and fun. It’s in the same vein as The Octagon, albeit a more proficiently produced film, and is unintentionally funny.
Here is the trailer
Here is the review I wrote on Netflix. Nobody noticed.
Hard to Kill (1990)
Steven Seagal is Mason Storm, an undercover cop placed in a coma when a botched assassination by conspiracy laden goons fails to kill this supercop. Waking up seven years later, Storm is still being hunted. Assisted by a nurse (LeBrock), Storm hides out at a villa and uses all of his Chinese wisdom (including acupuncture, martial arts, and sexual intercourse) to gain back his health and combat an army of inept gangsters led by a corrupt senator (Sadler). Along the way Storm breaks bones, shoots people, runs them over, and a plethora of other antics that will have any fan of either 1980s action films or cheese highly entertained. There is a good deal of violence, decent car chases, a few corny sexual situations (including gratuitous groping by Seagal), and a bunch of highly quotable one liners in Hard to Kill. Although the film is quite formulaic and the characters are one-dimensional, the pacing of the film is decent enough to amuse anybody. The score consists of laughable hot licks and cheap action synths which let the viewer know when good guys are saving the day and when the bad guys are up to no good. Hard to Kill is obviously not the best action film, but it covers all its bases in regards to cheap fun. There are inconsistencies with the story, but that is probably because I am delving too deep into a shallow film that was made to showcase Seagal to the masses and was not intended to contain any valid commentary regarding the world around us. The film does attempt to state that many politicians are corrupt and sometimes it is necessary to step outside legal boundaries to save the day, yet the vigilante idea that the ends justify the means is really just an example of dribble that reinforces hegemonic American values. I do not suggest reading this deeply into Hard to Kill. Take it for what it is and have a good time. Best line in the film: “I’m going to take you to the bank Senator; the blood bank.”