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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Retro Review: Exit Wounds (2001)

Exit Wounds
Cast: Steven Segal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Michael Jai White, Tom Arnold, David Vadim, Bill Duke, Eva Mendes
Genre: Action
Worldwide Box Office: over $79 million

Plot: Orin Boyd, a tough cop in an inner-city precinct discovers a web of dirty cops and corruption

'A Tad Better Than Half Past Dead, But That's About It'

Let there be no doubt that when I say that virtually every role Steven Segal opts for is the badass protagonist, the have-a-go lawman who uses his Aikido skills to defeat his enemies. I enjoy my action movies, but I have never been a staunch fan of Steven Segal's flicks. Jackie Chan, a bit of Van Damme and many classic Arnold Schwarzenegger films are my favourite action movie stars. Steven Segal, not so but I did enjoy Under Seige. Even in the moments of intentional humour, he doesn't seem to have a good grasp of humour and his talents are limited. & he doesn't have much in the way of a screen presence, unlike say a certain Austrian-born superstar. Exit Wounds was a supposed attempt for Segal to get back in the action A-game but in reality, this feels more like a generic B-movie, straight- to- DVD effort.

With this offering, Segal is Orin Boyd: a burnt out undercover cop who is reassigned to a different precinct, despite coming to the aid of a vice-president, in overzealous style. Boyd later finds out the cops aren't what he expects them to be, with crooked officers stealing heroin from police labs to help fund their trips and visits. Basically, what we have is the so-called bad guys, who are in actuality good guys in DMX, Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson and so-called good guys who are really bad guys in Michael Jai White & David Vadim's Det Montini. Rapper DMX is Latrell Walker: a drug dealer, with Anthony Anderson as TK. 

Exit Wounds is an action film one has seen so and too many times before: typically formulaic, unoriginal and by the numbers fare, but with a less than formidable and stellar cast that is retreading on familiar waters. Released in the early 2000s, it is a mere shadow of 1980s and 1990s action films and for me, Exit Wounds was the start of the decline in action movies, which even to this day, this cycle hasn't really been reverted. It's a not so good mash-up of an urban movie mixed in with some martial arts and comedy, and it just hasn't been executed well enough. In most or many action films, the violence and action tend to be cartoonish and not as bloody and grisly. This was Andrzej Bartkowiak's second directorial film following on from Romeo Must die, after lending his cinematography dues in The Devil's Advocate, Speed & Gossip

Tom Arnold's character as TV presenter Henry here is as annoying & grating as Joe Pesci's in Lethal Weapon; in fact, he is the film's Joe Pesci, Leo Getz with his shouting and screaming & loud personality. As a supposed comic relief, he comes off more as an irritant and a liability, rather than an asset and I found all of his scenes to be needless & that they didn't fit in with the main plot. Anthony Anderson wasn't too far behind as the bumbling buffoon and I wasn't too fond of his character, either. He too was loud, raucous with a bit of a filthy mouth & like Tom plays exactly the same role as in his other movies. Contrary to other people, DMX wasn't too bad; he does have a bit more range in his acting than say, Ja Rule and his performance was arguably a bit more respectable than the main headliner, Steven Segal. He (DMX) and Bill Duke were the highlights. 

The wire-based martial arts slo-mo shots when Segal fights are so annoying and needless and rather they take away from the film, rather than to enhance it. The editing also feels choppy at places. There are car chases, a stunt man as Segal's character riding a motorcycle (if you freeze a portion of the scene and look closely that's not even Segal on the bike), fights, gun shots and whilst these aspects maintain the viewers' interest in short bursts, everything else doesn't come well together. Exit Wounds is an action film about uncovering police corruption, but the way this is all set up doesn't leave much up to one's imagination, nor is it inventive enough. The reveals towards the end were interesting and at the same time, it comes off as flat and isn't as shocking as it tries to be. The last 15 or 20 mins rarely made up for the rest of the movie. 

Final Verdict:

This is truly for fans of Steven Segal and DMX; Exit Wounds is less than thrilling and feels more underwhelming with performances from all quarters, but for DMX & Predator's Bill Duke, which are satisfactory at best but with a better casting, it would have made the movie even more entertaining and less irritating to watch. 

This is not all that it is cracked up to be: it's not that original or inventive, but it had its moments. Yet as an action film, not everything came well together and producer Joel Silver and director Andrzej Bartkowiak came up short in many areas. However, I won't lie by saying that Exit Wounds was watchable all the way through and the 1.40 min runtime is ideal. 

A slight improvement on Half Past Dead, but otherwise Exit Wounds lacks the clarity and deftness of the original Under Siege and Jet Li's caginess from Cradle 2 The Crave & is, therefore, more of a second-tier, action B-movie that looks a tad more flashy, yet substance-wise, there isn't much going for it as a film. Worth it for Segal and action movie fanatics, but more so for fans of the former; other than that Exit Wounds is so unremarkable that there are far, far better cop-based action films around than this one. 


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