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Film review: Hard to Kill

Published: Thursday, Feb. 15 1990 12:00 a.m. MST

Steven Seagal is yet another low-budget action hero whose big-screen efforts seem to be an uneasy blend of Chuck Norris and Clint Eastwood.

Seagal's new film "Hard to Kill" does have the unique element of his character spending most of the film's first quarter in a coma, though he seems no less animated than when he's awake and kicking. Seagal is somnambulistic most of the time.

Anyway, "Hard to Kill" has Seagal playing L.A. Detective Mason Storm - if ever there was a movie hero name, "Mason Storm" is it.

Under the credits in the film's opening scene, set in 1983, Storm is spying on some bad guys at night with a video camera and a tape recorder. (They didn't have sound cameras in 1983?)

Once he's got his evidence, which exposes a corrupt politician, Storm phones a buddy in his precinct and tells him what he's got and not to share the information with anyone else. Unfortunately neither of them notice that crooked cops in the same room pick up an extension phone and listen in. In fact, it seems that just about every other cop in the city is corrupt.

So it's not much of a surprise when killers show up at Storm's house that night to kill him and his wife (though not before she disrobes for a sex scene). And in an especially nasty moment the killers also fire automatic weapons at Storm's young son.

After he's taken to the hospital, Storm at first is thought to be dead, but he instead lapses into a coma, his death is faked and he's hidden away by a friend.

Seven years later - 1990 - Storm awakens to go on a vengeance spree, with help from the nurse who has cared for him. She's played by Seagal's real-life wife Kelly Le Brock ("The Woman in Red," "Weird Science").

To say "Hard to Kill" is violent is a bit like saying rain is wet. There's more blood here than there are squealing tires on the soundtrack - and believe me, that's a lot.

"Hard to Kill" is hard to watch.

Mindless? An understatement. Silly? Inestimably.

And though this is a big-screen film released by a major studio (Warner Bros.), it's obviously been shot with the small screen in mind. There are so many closeups that at times it's hard to tell just what's going on. But you can bet someone is either being killed or maimed.

It's notable that in the film's opening sequence Seagal's first line of dialogue has him moaning about how long it's taking to get what he wants on videotape. "I'm missing the Oscars," he complains.

He'll be missing the Oscars for a long time if this film is the best he can do.

"Hard to Kill" is rated R for excessive violence, gore and profanity and some sex and nudity.

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