Marked for Death 1990 Movie Scene Steven Seagal as John Hatcher shooting from his vehicle with Keith David as Max ducking to avoid the oncoming fire

Marked for Death [1990]

Yes, your eyes are not playing tricks on you, I’m actually going to recommend you a Steven Seagal movie. No matter what you may think about the guy or his career, he made a couple of good movies back in the nineties. And I do think that this is his best one. Marked for Death is an extremely brutal and highly entertaining old-school martial arts action movie. It features a perfect balance between shootouts and fights. Fights that look absolutely phenomenal with Seagal also saying that this is his best work. We will be following John Hatcher, a burnt-out DEA agent who decides to retire but is pulled back into the fight when a ruthless gang targets his family. Hence the title Marked for Death.

I remember watching this movie as a kid and absolutely loving it. I mean, just imagine little Rabbit watching TV late one night and running into this monstrosity. We open with an exciting chase and a fight before ending up in a strip club. What more could one teenager ask for? After more than thirty years, some of the lines are unintentionally hilarious. And yes, I’ll admit it, Marked for Death is a cheesy B action movie featuring a cheesy plot and a bit of cheesy acting. However, it’s also just a lot of fun, especially if you’re looking for a movie that requires zero brain effort. And when you see Seagal waving his arms and kicking the shit out of everything the entertainment factor goes through the roof.

This time he will be battling a Jamaican gang led by Screwface, one scary motherfucker. You know what dat means bomboclat! Bloodclot means blood rituals, curses, and automatic weapons. This gang is truly not fucking around sporting M-16s and AK-47s and not standard-issue gang weapons like Uzis. Their leader, Screwface, has an impeccable fashion style wearing a leather jacket, dreadlocks, and spandex shorts. Now, when I said that the fights are brutal, I meant they are fucking brutal. Seagal will be breaking the arms, legs, and backs of his enemies. And for the love of Satan do not let him take away your weapon!

Because if he gets ahold of your knife you simply know it’s going right in your throat or heart. The pacing is relentless and the running time short, exactly what an ambitious and fast-moving martial arts action movie needs. The director is Dwight H. Little who would go on to work on such nineties classics as Rapid Fire and Murder at 1600. And while the plot is set up as your stereotypical crime story it does offer a couple of cool surprises. One of them is the Jamaican angle that also brings us not just Voodoo but also Obeah and Santeria. 1990 saw the release of another movie featuring some of the same stuff, the underrated Predator 2.

I also like how Seagal’s character eloquently and realistically described the futility of the war on drugs. That brings me to his partner who made this movie so much better, none other than Keith David. You might remember him from such cult classics as The Thing (Childs) and They Live (Frank). He made Seagal’s antics a bit more bearable. And I think that the following incident will also bring a smile to your face and make you check out Marked for Death. So, Steven, as pompous as he is, was constantly talking shit on the set, saying that he can’t be choked out because of his aikido training. If this isn’t on brand I don’t know what is.

Legendary martial arts expert Gene LeBell, who was the stunt coordinator for this movie, heard about this and put a challenge before Seagal. I think that you already know how this went, when Seagal said go, LeBell choked him out and that was that. To make things even funnier, Seagal would go on to deny that the incident ever happened despite numerous witnesses. So, each time he gets on your nerves here, just imagine that scene and you should be fine.

Director: Dwight H. Little

Writers: Michael Grais, Mark Victor

Cast: Steven Seagal, Basil Wallace, Keith David, Joanna Pacula, Elizabeth Gracen, Kevin Dunn

Fun Facts: The small gun Steven Seagal’s character plays with is a Protector Palm Pistol.


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