Hard to Kill (1990)
03/21/2016 - The year is 1983. Steven Seagal isn't fat yet, ponytails are still cool, cops and politicians are crooked and carry cocaine around in little baggies in case they need to frame somebody. Mason Storm (seriously, that's his name) is one tough cop, and he has "more integrity than the entire department." After scouting out a back-alley Bad Guy meeting and capturing video and audio evidence, he pops by a local liquor store to stock up on champagne. Unsurprisingly, he has to beat up some hoodlums that happen to be robbing the place, although he does politely wait until after they've shot the owner to dole out his Aikido justice. He heads home, stashes the evidence, says bedtime prayers with his son, pours the champagne and then makes passionate love to his wife. Because, if your name is Mason Storm, this is just what you fucking do at the end of the day.
Please understand, I love this movie - it is ridiculous and insane, and I am going to continue mocking it for the rest of this review - but I just can't help but smile watching Steven Seagal flip people over by their thumbs. I love this flick even more than Above the Law, mostly because it's exactly the same movie but with a cleverly inserted seven year coma plot device that allows him to lay two buxom ladies without moral penalty. Oh, and his name is Mason Storm. Did I mention that yet? Yeah. Mason Fucking Storm. Like a brick house and inclement weather, all in one bad-ass, ponytailed package.
Bruce Malmuth directed this, and Steven McKay wrote the script (he also wrote Darkman II), and there are a few cast members who live until the end, but none of that matters because none of it will be the reason you watch this movie.
Back to the story: after/during the passionate Mason Storm lovemaking (I just assumed multiple climaxes), The Bad Guys shoot up Mason Storm and his wife and try to kill their son. Mason Storm dies but then he suddenly isn't dead, but they keep that under wraps so The Bad Guys don't find out Mason Storm is still alive. He stays in a coma for seven years: we know this because of the mini-montage. Also, Hard To Kill very smartly uses television footage to really convince us that the pre-coma part of the movie is seven years before the post-coma part of the movie. This is especially important because literally everything else in 1990 looks exactly the same as it did in 1983.
Oh yeah, the music: there's lots of synth and electric guitar happening in this movie. Like, a crazy lot. The only break is the lovemaking music, which has a saxophone accompanying the synth and electric guitar; it's pretty fantastic, really. I couldn't tell if the music was indicative of 1983 or 1990, though; maybe they split the difference and went with 1987? Think '80-90s action movie soundtrack, but then visualize Steven Seagal flipping people over by their thumbs before making love, and you'll have a general idea of what I'm getting at.
Another crucial clue to the mystery that is Mason Storm is subtly revealed when his coma nurse checks out his package under the sheets. This sets up the necessary sexual chemistry which will, obviously, blossom into a relationship and more lovemaking. But remember, Mason Storm just woke up from a coma with an oddly non-caucasian-looking goatee, and he'll need to get into better shape before that python between his legs can be unleashed. Cue montage number two!
Mason Storm is obviously highly trained in Chinese medicine practices, so naturally he's completely recovered before the montage is even over. All that's left is for him to do in this movie is to find his son and reunite with his old cop buddy and take out a few hundred Bad Guys. It's almost boring, as you can imagine. Fortunately, Seagal knows how to keep your attention, and he's flipping guys by their thumbs in all the different directions. He uses his gun, too, mostly because they had a 95-minute run-time to stick to. In the end, everything works out for the best (spoiler alert?).
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Seriously, though ... this is a fun movie. There are hundreds of action movies from this era, a good chunk of them about "cops" or "martial arts" or both. A lot of them are pretty good, but this is one of the best. Hard To Kill combines over-the-top action, a ridiculous story, and a hilariously clichéd soundtrack into something Mason Storm himself couldn't resist.