Believe it or not, there was a short window of time, from the late 80s to early 90s, when Steven Seagal was cool as hell. He made some pretty damn slick action flicks. One of those is Marked For Death from 1990.
In this one, Seagal plays Hatcher, a burned-out DEA agent who is fresh off a little undercover operation in Mexico that goes bad. Hatch gets his partner killed and wastes a Narco-whore. This, apparently, is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and causes Hatch to decide he’s had enough. His conscience has got the better of him. A fed with a conscience? Probably the most unrealistic thing that ever came out of Hollywood!
Hatch takes the advice of his priest and decides to go back to Illinois with his family, to get in touch with his softer side to decompress. It’s like old home week for Hatch as he is welcomed back with open arms and gets to stay in his own boyhood bedroom.
It turns out he is old war buddies with Keith David, who apparently wasn’t infected by The Thing and went on to a career as a high school football coach.
Of course, this is an action movie about drug dealers, so it doesn’t take long for the local crack-selling Jamaican gang to piss all over Hatch’s retirement plans. While Hatch and David are in a bar one night, they witness a drug deal gone bad and a firefight breaks out killing lots of people. Hatch beats up one of the drug dealers and then performs a citizen’s arrest.
The leader of the gang doesn’t like this, and it leads to a drive-by at the Hatcher family home. His niece is badly wounded. This finally shakes Hatcher out of his torpor, so he recruits his old war buddy and off they go to find out who is behind all this.
Hatch finds out the Jamaicans are supported by the local Italian mafia mooks and he kills one in an attempted interrogation. The Jamaican in the room decides to leave via self-defenestration rather than face the wrath of the gang leader for ratting him out.
Things ramp up from here. There are killings, reprisals, and a great car chase into a shopping mall (back when they still existed) complete with gunfight.
It all races towards a climax as a third man joins their ranks, a Jamaican specialist from a police task force. The finale takes them to Jamaica and a raid on the compound of the leader of the Gang, Screwface. Things look good for our heroes until a huge plot twist pisses all over their parade.
Marked For Death is classic Seagal. Like all his best work, he plays a world-weary cop or military man who goes on a roaring rampage of broken arms and legs, and smoking guns to deliver justice the only way Seagal knows how… by taking the bad guys to the blood bank.
Marked For Death is not the best movie from the high era of Seagal. We will no doubt get to those shortly. It is pretty damn fun though. It has Keith David and Joanna Pacula in it, after all. Joanna, you may recall, was Kate from Tombstone.
These were great early 90s action flicks. Small budgets, tight run-times. Lots of bone-breaking and gunplay. Seagal’s gun handling is top notch as always. You can think what you want of the man, but he is well known in the real gun community for being highly skilled with many national-level shooting competitors and custom gunsmiths seeing it for themselves first hand. It shows in his films and it’s a nice touch I’ve always appreciated.
Check it out.
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