You can't say action star Steven Seagal isn't adaptable. When his theatrical releases ran out of steam, he switched to making movies direct to video. Then in 2009 he starred in a reality cop show on TV, "Steven Seagal: Lawman." But apparently he hasn't forsaken the video market, as this 2010 release, "A Dangerous Man," points up.
The title reminds me of two things: Damon Runyon's old short story "A Dangerous Guy Indeed" and the Sixties TV show "Danger Man" (a.k.a. "Secret Agent"). I doubt that screenwriter and director Keoni Waxman ("The Keeper") had either of these things in mind, but, in any case, the movie doesn't live up to the story or the TV series, anyway, so it doesn't matter. The movie is just another routine Seagal thriller.
This time out, Seagal plays a man named Shane Daniels, a former Special Forces operative wrongly convicted for a murder he didn't commit. After six years behind bars, Project Innocence helps prove he had nothing to do with the crime, and he's back on the street, rightly pissed. Now, what is a guy like Daniels supposed to do with his life after the government took so much of it away? Right wrongs, of course. He has everything but a Lone Ranger mask to make him a modern, street-fighting superhero.
For instance, shortly after his release from prison, he walks into a liquor store for a bottle of booze, comes out, and finds himself immediately accosted by a pair of muggers. Naturally, he beats the crap out of them. Why the scene? To show us he's a tough customer who takes nothing from anybody, especially at this point in his life. And to satisfy the actor's fans who expect him to kick ass at every turn. It sets the tone of gratuitous bloodshed to come.
The setting for all the unlikely action to follow is the little town of Bellingham, Washington, a cozy seaside place that, according to the film, is overrun by Chinese Mafia, Russian Mafia, and crooked police. I'm sure the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce thanks Seagal for his work.
No matter where Daniels goes, there's trouble. Not two minutes after the aforementioned aborted mugging, he parks at a roadside rest stop and happens to see three cars drive up: the first with two Chinese gangsters in it and a load of money and a beautiful girl (Marlaina Mah) in the trunk; a second car with two young Russian men in it, one (Jesse Hutch) of them the son of a crime boss (Vitaly Kravchenko); and the third a cop car. The cop stops the two Chinese gangsters for reasons unknown, discovers the money and the girl, and then finds himself promptly dead. The gangsters notice the two young Russians watching all this and give chase, killing one of them. Daniels decides it's time to intervene, so he kills one of the Chinese guys, runs off the other, and takes the surviving Russian man, the girl, and the money to safety.
Turns out, Daniels has gotten himself into a viper's nest of illegal drug smuggling, human trafficking, and cops on the take (Jerry Wasserman among others), with rival Chinese and Russian gangs finally coming to all-out warfare. (Business must be good for the Russian Mafia in Bellingham, by the way, because the Russian mob boss lives in a multimillion-dollar mansion.). Understand, this is all on Daniels's first day out of prison. You can only imagine what mischief he's going to get into as time passes.
The important thing is that Seagal is in full combat mode, his usual soft-spoken killing machine. He is all for peace and quiet, and he'll tear any man apart who interferes. Seagal is also carrying considerably more weight than he did in the old days, which is understandable with age and actually makes him look tougher and more formidable than ever. Unfortunately, he's more humorless than ever, too, which makes for a rather dark, dour, predictable, heavy-handed, uninspired movie.
By the end, everyone who is bad is dead, and everyone we want to survive survives. I suppose that's all Seagal fans care about. That and the fact that to the man the baddies die as gruesome a death as possible makes justice all the sweeter.
And in all the fighting, Seagal never gets hit. Some things never change.
The MPAA did not rate "A Dangerous Man," but be aware that it contains extreme violence, carnage, nudity, profanity, and personal injury. I assume the filmmakers harmed no fish in the production.
The picture quality is the best thing about the movie. The video engineers have transferred the movie's 1.85:1 ratio image to disc in an anamorphic reproduction that looks quite good for a standard-definition product. There are solid black levels that, nevertheless, allow for reasonably good inner detailing in darker areas of the screen; there is a fairly sharp delineation of objects; and there is more-than-satisfactory overall cleanness. The filmmakers never mean for the colors to jump off the screen at the viewer, with mostly subdued nighttime tones; yet the colors appear well rendered, with faces particularly natural in appearance.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 shows its potential in an early sequence below decks on a freighter ship, with the various moanings and groanings of the boat coming from all the surround speakers. At this point on, however, it's downhill since the soundtrack generally does little more than deliver loud noises and repetitious music, none of it adding much to the thin story line, instead annoying listeners in its attempt to distract them from a script that lacks any sense whatsoever.
Not much here. Well, nothing here, really. We get a series of trailers at start-up and in the main menu; thirteen scene selections; English and Spanish spoken languages; and English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
"A Dangerous Man" probably provides every Steven Seagal fan with everything he wants. There's plenty of action, blood, gore, sex, nudity, and profanity; there's a clear-cut good guy vs. bad guy motif; and, most important, there's a suitable triumph of virtue over evil. The fact that in the process there is a lousy movie is plainly beside the point. It will satisfy its audience.