Play Pause

Friday, 21 September 2018

Retro Review: Marked For Death (1990)

Marked For Death
Cast: Steven Segal, Joanna Pecula, Keith David, Michael Ralph, Danny Trejo, Basil Wallace
Genre: Action
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $57 million

Plot: A retired DEA agent is out to hunt down and take out a Jamaican drug posse that has targeted he and his family for murder

'Marked For Lacklustre'

Segal's own Commando, the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, Marked For Death became his third movie, after Nico/Above The Law and Hard To Kill of the 1980s, as well as his first outing of the 1990s.

After witnessing the murder of his partner, while going undercover in Columbia, a drug enforcement agent & burnt- out John Hatcher has had enough and retires from the force. When he heads home to visit family and friends, things at first are rosy. But it isn't long until lawlessness and carnage wreck havoc in his community involving Jamaican drug lords. Afterwards, a voodoo priest by the name of Screwface targets John's sister and critically wounds her young daughter, who is also John's niece. With the help of his friend, Max, John takes matters into his own hands and to rid the streets of the vermin that plague the area. 

Segal is a bit of an oddity: he's not a great actor, nor does he show much range in his performances. As John, he is an unlikable, raging cop who believes that beating the crap out of people is the solution to his woes. This is just me but unlike Van Damme, there is no fluidity in his Aikido & martial arts movements, unless that is the general pacing that practitioners of this martial art emit - when he fights and his movies - both cinematic and direct-to-DVD - look tiresome and not very entertaining. Despite gorging one of the bad guy's eyes out and snapping the joints of the henchmen. & unlike Jackie Chan, Segal is not an entertainer and when he is forced or expected to act and show emotion or to emote, beyond being straight-faced and stoic, he just comes off as stiff and uncharismatic. Segal's onscreen partner, Keith David doesn't have much to do and is very much an afterthought.

Co-written by two writers who worked on Poltergeist with Steven Spielberg and co-produced by Steven Segal himself, this is still, by all means, a B-movie affair with acting performances, which to be truthful, are either forgettable and not the highlight of Marked For Death or just downright poor, no thanks to the script, which was still a bore, due to the lack of good action and the action that was on show ranged from moderate to inept. There is no variation in the story, whatsoever, the inclusion of the mafia made no sense, whatsoever and though it was released in cinemas, worldwide, this still reeks of straight-to-DVD. The voodoo aspect could have been intriguing, but instead, it is a non-entity. 

If you took the Predator 2 Jamaican yardie gang subplot, add in the James Bond Live and Let Die and mixed it up with Commando, minus most of its charm, you get this. Utterly formulaic, almost plotless to speak of with not enough good action and martial arts and despite being a hit in 1990, this was a formula that became the norm for Segal, whose popularity and star status died right after 1992's Under Siege.

The film manages to ramp up the violence levels, characters are wafer-thin with the stereotyped and demonised Jamaicans with dreadlocks uttering Carribean lingo (most of which sounded bemusing) and all the villains look like they could be extras for rappers Lil' Jon, Lil' Wayne's music video and the script is weak. 

Whilst not one single character comes out of this movie intact, neither of them are appealing enough for me to care about. & though it came out during the early 1990s, it still has that slightly 1980s feel. Yet right after the first killing, Marked For Death goes to pot, afterwards and becomes progressively dire as it unfolds. 

Final Verdict:

If I had to choose between this and Predator 2, which has a similar-ish feel with the Jamaican yardie bad guys, I'd opt for the latter and pass on this. For all its efforts, Marked For Death never clicked with me and it just didn't go above and beyond with the action to fully satisfy me as an action flick. 

Director Dwight H. Little, thankfully, went one slightly better with Brandon Lee's Rapid Fire, 2 years later, whereas Under Siege is still my favourite Steven Segal movie pick, by a long margin. & he hasn't had many movies that I enjoyed.  

Taking away the action scenes, which were futile themselves, Marked For Death is still a poor showing.


No comments:

Post a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...