After sporting some impressive combat skills and heavy duty weaponry in Marked for Death, Steven Seagal goes back to basics in this gritty and deliriously violent crime thriller.
Steven Seagal plays yet another policeman, this time Brooklyn police detective Gino Felino, hunting down a childhood friend and mob enforcer/drug dealer Richie Madano, a chilling performance is given by Brooklyn born William Forsythe (The Rock).
Law and Order star, the late Jerry Orbach is Ronnie Donzinger, Gino’s Captain in charge who not only doesn’t get in Gino’s way in tracking Madano (understandable given he just killed a police officer) but also helps with more manpower, intelligence and armaments.
Drug-fuelled deranged mafia enforcer Richie Madano guns down a Brooklyn cop in broad daylight as his family watches in terror, sparking off a city-wide manhunt by the police. Gino Felino vows to track down and kill Richie but not before he uncovers the motives behind the brutal killing of his partner and childhood friend. Gino’s one man hunt brings him at odds with his estranged wife, Richie’s family and the local mafia.
The storylines of Seagal’s previous films up to this point saw the big man reliant on a sidekick or two. For this outing Roadhouse co-writer David Lee Henry has Seagal’s crusading cop Gino going it alone in nearly every respect. He might have the support of Captain Donzinger (after all Richie did gun down a policeman) but is at odds with everyone else and battles a bevy of hard-nosed thugs all on his own. As a plot device it helps convey Gino’s isolation in his home town from people he’s known his whole life and with no help in sight, it ups the danger and intensity factor when it comes to the action.
Seagal’s tough-nosed unstoppable cop is not just out for justice but out for bloody and extreme anatomical displacement. It is essentially Seagal at his most explicitly brutal using a variety of weaponry at hand and breaking every sort of bone imaginable. Whether it’s in a delicatessen using a salami roll as a bat, or in a bar with a pool ball wrapped in a tea towel, the hits come thick, fast and with bone crunching realism so that even the most hardened viewer will wince and sympathetically coddle the injured body part.
The fighting at times resembles a knock down, drag out rumble but there is plenty of skill on display with all the crowd pleasing Seagal trademarks. The script provides ample opportunity for Seagal’s famous arm and leg breakers, as well as Aikido-style wrist turns, even a shihonage that sends a woman-beating pimp through a car door window. The bar room fight especially, features the best of these with the baddies spitting blood and teeth, interspersed with some comical moments and witty one liners. It also provides a golden moment in martial arts cinema; Seagal in an Escrima battle with the legendary Dan Inosanto!
The final fight between Richie and Gino recalls the intensity of Sho Kosugi taking on psychotic hitman James Booth in Pray for Death. Like Booth, Forsythe is not a trained fighter but Richie’s deranged self-destructive fearlessness make him a formidable pain in the neck. Although more akin to a street fight, the turbulence of this scene gives the film a deeply satisfying and exciting climax thanks to dynamic turns by the two lead actors.
Out for Justice is a tightly-plotted action-packed thriller with a story focused on family ties and division of loyalty in the pursuit of revenge. Some comic moments weave in with the happy smacking fight scenes to make this one of Seagal’s best moments as an actor and, in its uncut form is perhaps his most violent and wildly brutal action flick.
- It was originally titled The Price of our Blood but Warner Brothers insisted on something catchier condensing it into three words.
- Of all his own fights, the bar brawl scene is considered to be one of Seagal’s favourites.