So last week I had the surprisingly hard task of picking my five favourite Seagal direct-to-video era flicks. Not hard because I couldn’t think of five, but hard because I actually had to leave off a few I dig, such as Pistol Whipped (2008) and A Dangerous Man (2009). Yes, I’ve gotten to such a low point in my Seagal worshiping that I’ll pretty much like anything he’s in.

And that’s exactly why the five films featured in this week’s Starter Pack should be avoided like the fucking plague. I mean if someone like me with zilch taste can’t handle them, then I’m sure those with more selective movie viewing habits will wind up in the mental asylum within minutes. These films are awful. Most of the action guys of the 80s and 90s – Dolph and JCVD are particular culprits – have made their share of bad DTV flicks, but honestly, nothing comes close to Seagal’s worst.

A few on this list are worth a viewing simply because they are so shockingly bad that they’re almost impressive. Some are just plain unwatchable. Either way, you’ve been warned…


2004, Po-Chih Leong

Out of Reach has a great concept. Sort of. The film’s theme is Steven Seagal vs. child trafficking. A decent starting point for some solid ass-kicking, but its demented execution destroys any chance it has. Seagal is a creepy survivalist guy (and ex-army guy/covert agent guy/something guy) who has a Eastern-European teenage pen pal. When his underage pen pal is kidnapped from her orphanage, Seagal goes on a rampage. Out of Reach‘s story is a convoluted mess, often making literally no sense, but it has some decent action scenes and is shot competently. Where it really falls on its ass and becomes worthy of being in this list is Seagal’s ADR… or should I say the guy that dubbed Seagal’s ADR. Other than Attack Force (we’ll get to that soon), no other Seagal film has received such ludicrous dubbing. Whoever dubbed Seagal’s voice (which is about fifty percent of the lines – the rest is Seagal’s onset sound) has a high-pitched voice that teeters on having a British accent. It’s fucking hilarious. Out of Reach also scores stupid points for its absurd ending and the disturbing relationship between Seagal and the girl – Leon: The Professional this ain’t.

2005, Anthony Hickox

I got excited when I read the back cover of Submerged. It was directed by Anthony Hickox – a director I actually knew and liked. He directed Waxwork (1988) – a personal favourite of mine – and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992). Submerged also featured Vinnie Jones as a co-star and, while I’m no fan of Jones, a pre-career hell appearance from him seemed to be a possible suggestion of quality. By Christ, I was way off. Submerged is easily the most boring film in the Seagal catalogue. I have no idea why Jones signed up for this one. Why the hell would he want to play second fiddle to Seagal in a horrible and terribly cheap piece of shit like this? A few other name actors show up too. What the fuck were they thinking?! Submerged stumbles through its incoherent plot that involves terrorism and bizarre moments of sci-fi. It moves through an endless stream of locations but ultimately goes nowhere. This film is a bore. It’s not even worth a laugh.

2007, Michael Keusch

To make sense of the infuriating madness that is Attack Force, you must know a little about its production history. You see Attack Force was originally written and shot as a film titled Harvester wherein Seagal and his team fight vampiric aliens. Awesome, eh? Unfortunately, the studio didn’t think so and decided to recut Attack Force into a film about a drug that turns people into superhuman maniacs. They re-shot some scenes with Seagal’s co-stars and dubbed the bulk of his dialogue using a voice actor who – as my girlfriend described him – sounded like he had throat cancer. The dubbing is so bad that within the same scene Seagal’s voice will change line to line. Best of all, the rejigging of the film’s plot makes some of Seagal’s actions extremely questionable and psychotic. Seagal blowing away evil space vampires becomes Seagal blowing away pretty much innocent people who have, unbeknownst to them, taken a drug that’s turned them mad. Bad films often get likened to car crashes, where you just can’t look away, and never has a film fit that comparison like Attack Force. This is a truly fascinating fuck up of a film.

2008, Jeff King

I gotta confess… I kind of love Kill Switch. Concept alone, it’s amazing. Seagal as a brilliant detective (ahem) hunting down two serial killers – one methodical and cold, the other a hillbilly buffoon. Amazing! Not only that, we get Seagal doing his horrible “lord have mercy” Southern accent/Ebonics routine to full effect, some nasty violence and even a cameo from Isaac Hayes. Stylistically, the film is a nightmare vision of cheap modern movie-making techniques. The editing is the worst in any Seagal film. Horrible stunt doubles are cut in with frantic editing, shots are reused over and over, scenes of action are repeated endlessly (if someone smashes through a window, we’ll see it like ten times) and the footage speeds up needlessly at random intervals. Not only that, there was also clearly some disastrous post-production reassembling of the storyline, the results of which can be seen in Kill Switch‘s hysterical and bizarre ending, which makes no sense. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the joke sequence with the dead clown. Kill Switch is a phenomenal screw up, but you can’t help but think there was a good movie in there somewhere. Although, that would take away all the fun, wouldn’t it?

2009, Richard Crudo

I’ve said everything I need to say about Against the Dark already on Mondo Exploito. For those not bothered with reading that rambling article, I’ll give you a quick summary. Steven Seagal vs. vampires… it should have been wonderful. Instead we have a film that epitomises everything that is wrong with both modern action films and modern horror films. Fuck this movie.

If you want to brave one of the five films on this list, proceed with caution. With these films, Steven Seagal stares you in the face and – in an ADR voice that is not his own – says, “I do not give a fuck about you after you give me your money.”