Warner Bros. // 1991 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 4th, 2007
He's a cop. It's a dirty job...but someone has to take out the garbage.
A return to the glory days of Steven Seagal (read: non-AARP membership years), Out for Justice on HD-DVD should scratch that violence-ridden old school R-rated action itch.
NYPD Detective Gino Felino (Seagal) plays by his own set of rules and if it takes hand-to-hand combat and gunfire to ease the mean streets of Brooklyn, then so be it. And, hey, ACLU, @#$% off!
Felino has long maintained an uneasy truce with the wiseguys in his neighborhood, but when his best friend is gunned down in broad daylight by a drugged-out lunatic named Richie (William Forsythe), all sense of calm and peace is shattered, along with the ulnas of about 300 mobsters.
Director John Flynn wisely pours on the Aikido and car chases and bullet sprays for the majority of Out for Justice's runtime and this early '90s action film largely accomplishes what it sets out to do: pit a spry Steven Seagal against an endless stream of loudmouths and watch him beat the Riccota out of their hides.
The plot is essentially "Geno the perpetually pissed-off detective gets even more pissed off when his best friend is murdered and if you stand in his way you will likely bleed out of your nose." There's a whiff of a mystery lurking beneath the mayhem, but it's boilerplate jilted-lover stuff, and the revelations offer very little dramatic punch.
In fact the only thing that offers punch is Seagal's fist and that, brother, is more than enough for me. Look, it's fun to give Seagal crap these days, as he continues to disgorge direct-to-DVD action retreats that appear to progressively worse. The last Seagal film I saw, Attack Force, found the actor lumbering awkwardly through set-pieces and having his dialogue dubbed by someone who sounds nothing like Steven Seagal.
But...it is refreshing to revisit these earlier outings by SS, where it was brutally evident the guy a) was in shape and b) had moves. Out for Justice allows Seagal to run wild, mowing down mofos in the span of one crazy night, while pursing one of the biggest jackass action movie villains of all time. The guy's up-close-and-brutal, arm-snapping, crunch-generating, wince-inducing martial artistry is given much attention, though I was disappointed in the dearth of neck snaps, a Seagal staple.
Eh, stupid nitpicking. The downtime between action scenes is miniscule before our hero goes to work again, talking all kinds of trash to F-bomb dropping thugs of various degrees of Italian ethnicity (seriously, there are a a lot of F-bombs), and dispatching them in painful ways that, to be honest, mainly consist of side-stepping, grabbing the arm, twisting until there's a SNAP, and flipping the hapless guy over on his head. The big finale has Seagal hoisting a shotgun and spilling blood like crazy -- Violence Standout: one of the goons gets his leg blown off and spends the next two minutes of screen time announcing that fact to everyone within earshot -- until he squares off with the villain and just smacks his punk-ass up.
Acting is lame all around. Seagal foists a thick Brooklyn accent on anyone he talks to, and the aforementioned downtime is often taken up with pointless Seagal monologues, and that grows excruciating, but what do you want form the guy? Special credit though needs to be given to Forsythe, who unleashes a profound, scene-munching psycho that, by the end, deserves every ounce of beatdown he's given.
The 2.41, 1080p high-def transfer looks very good, and considering this discs is as bare an offering as you can get, much rides on the picture quality it make it worth a look. The detailing is strong and clean throughout, and marks a noticeable improvement over standard definition. This crispness holds up through the kinetic fight scenes, which move very fast, allowing you to soak up every precious moment of Seagal snarling while he kicks a guy in the testicles. For sound, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus soundtrack had its moments, particularly during the bouts of gunplay, but overall, it was too front-loaded to earn breathless praise. Extras? Just the trailer.
The film is a fun throwback to the days of rampant, brutal violence when Seagal was a fearsome physical presence. The picture quality earns its high-def credentials, but a lack of extras hurt the release.
Hey, go take out the garbage.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Rated R