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Friday, August 13, 2010


Saw the new Steven Seagal movie, A Dangerous Man, yesterday, twice. It's a good Seagal movie again. After a couple that were really bad, I was hesitant to pick up the next Seagal dvd that came along. A friend who watches movies about Nazi zombies told me the new one is really good. I didn't know how to take that. Thought it wouldn't hurt to check it out and see. I like a Seagal movie good or bad, unless it's really bad. Kill Switch, 2008, was so bad I could only give it one star at netflix and that for simply existing. It was a cliche of what people who don't like his kind of movies expect. I can't help but think it was a conscious decision made by Seagal possibly in relation to a lawsuit with Las Vegas mafia outfit over breaking a contract. My feeling, and it's only feeling based in little information, is that he was sentenced to complete the contract and did, making them the worst movies he could make. That's entirely conjecture. Something wasn't right. It was made the same year as Pistol Whipped, one of his better ones, and Urban Justice, another of his better ones. There were 2 in between them that have low ratings. I won't see the other one unless I'm in a nursing home paralyzed and it's on the television. The 2nd was called Against The Dark. He's a vampire hunter in it. Ho hum.

Over and over I hear people say and read it somewhere that Steven Seagal can't act. That's a standard belief about him. He's no John Malkovich or Anthony Hopkins; he doesn't emote much, but when he does, he does. He's a smooth dude. His characters have a fairly even temperament, meaning his emotions aren't running the gamut in every scene. In A Dangerous Man, a man has a gun on him in one scene telling Seagal he's a dead man. Seagal's answer was that it's said after we die we're in emptiness. He's been in that emptiness for a very long time. Then he took the guy's hand, turned the gun and the guy shot himself. Whoops. It's a truth, whatever somebody goes after Seagal with, a bat, a sword, a gun, a knife, a corkscrew, Seagal takes it and kills them with it. His character from movie to movie is the same, but with different names. In 2 of them he has the same name, Jonathan Cold. From movie to movie, he never kills anyone who isn't trying to kill him. Everyone is safe except anybody trying to kill him.

Seagal grew up in Japan, his parents living there, where a television serial, a Japanese kind of Lone Ranger, Zatoichi(pron: za-toe-each-ee---accent on each) the blind swordsman, a legend in Japan. I've seen 2 films of Zatoichi, one directed and starred in by Takeshi Kitano that is an extraordinary film all the way around. The other by Shintaro Katsu, who also directed and starred in it , made an equally fine film. Shintaro Katsu played Zatoichi the blind swordsman in the original tv series that went on and on like Cisco Kid, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers. Evidently the tv series was very well made and popular, because netflix has a long list of them. Zatoichi is the kind of man Seagal's character is in his films. Zatoichi means no harm to anyone, helps people who need help, his only possessions his robe and his sword. He has a sense for feeling energies, presences of anyone around him and their intent. In a sword fight, the other guy always loses, and Zatoichi never kills anyone who isn't trying to kill him. Children love him and he loves children. No one can sneak up on him but a child with a clear mind. He saves helpless women and children and old people from danger. He gives what little money he has to people who need some. He's a practicing Buddhist, but doesn't wear it on his sleeve.

It's the one with Shintaro Katsu that Seagal models his character after. Seagal's character is not blind but has the feeling for energies like Zatoichi. He's a mysterious individual like Zatoichi, too. No one can defeat either one of them, no matter how many, no matter how good with a sword, gun or martial arts. Seagal's character described himself to someone in Urban Justice, I'm just a bad man trying to do some good. Zatoichi would say the same thing. I had not suspected Seagal's connection with Zatoichi when I saw the movies. I saw Takeshi Kitano's first and loved it. I didn't make the Seagal connection until the second one, which I saw to see how 2 directors handle the same story. The one by Shintaro Katsu has Seagal all over it. I suspect Seagal's films are so successful because he deals with archetypal stories from our roots.

Two more new Seagal films are The Keeper and one made in Russian, Driven To Kill, both 2009. I'm ready for some more Steven Seagal. Thought I'd run out. 3 new ones I'd not seen. Great. When I first discovered Seagal, I had myself a film festival at home seeing every available movie of his movies. It's a big number. I may watch one of my own tonight.

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