OUT FOR JUSTICE (1991)
OUT FOR JUSTICE
Directed by John Flynn
Written by R. Lance Hill (as David Lee Henry)
Starring Steven Seagal, William Forsythe, Jerry Orbach
Seagal Kill Count: 12
Best Line: “WHO'S HOT DOG IS THIS?"
Rumor has it that during the filming of 1990's Marked for Death, Steven Seagal exited his trailer with a tear in his eye. When asked what was wrong, he said, "Nothing is wrong. Everything is right. I just read the best script I've ever laid eyes on." When asked who wrote it, he replied, "Me."
For the fourth movie in a row, Steven Seagal plays a cop. This time, he's Gino Felino, an NYPD officer who spends the whole day looking for Richie Madano, the man responsible for the death of his partner. "Where's Richie?"
From a pure entertainment standpoint, this is the best Seagal flick I've seen yet. The action was brutal (rumor has it that nearly a minute of gore was cut to hit an R rating), the dialogue was hilarious, and the New York accents were like music to my untuned ears.
Let's start with the action first. We don't get our first Seagal kill until just over an hour into the flick, but from there on, it's squibs and slaps. Lots of blood, tons of collateral damage.. We get a guy's leg blown off cleanly at the knee, we get necks and heads shot through, a butcher cleaver through the thigh and then through a hand, it's all over the place. We also get a corkscrew in the face. There's a ton of good stuff happening here.
Seagal and his "mafia talk" sound like something written by a kid who's just seen his first mafia movie, but for some reason it's sort of endearing. We get stereotypical phrases like "fuggeddaboutit", "fanook", and "bing bang BOOM". He tells a lot of stories about "the old neighborhood", and growing up in NY. None of it sounds convincing, but its entertaining nonetheless. A pimp at the start of the movie has some great lines before getting his shit kicked in by Seagal ("Bitch, do I look like I just fell off the turnip truck?").
A scene in a sleazy pool hall may be the best scene in the movie. Seagal walks in, cool, calm, and collected. He starts to question the patrons (namely Richie's brother, Vinnie) and gets his usual resistance from the unwholesome crowd. They tease him about having a badge and a gun. Seagal plays the bully here, smacking people around a little big, knocking over beers, pushing people into phone booths, and accosting hot dogs. Finally, he empties his gun and tells them to come and get his badge, and then proceeds to whoop everyone's ass. Two particular highlights include smacking a very out of place biker in the mouth with a cue ball wrapped in a towel, prompting him to spit out multiple teeth onto a pool table, and a guy named Sticks who goes toe to toe with Seagal via snapped pool cues.
William Forsythe as the crack smoking Richie is also amazing. He's your typical loose cannon, a warthog in a china shop. He's unhinged, and you really do believe that he could kill anyone he meets and any moment. He chews the scenery whenever he's in frame.
Gina Gershon shows great talent and actually has some good chemistry with Seagal during their short back and forth.
The story is definitely the weakest part of the movie, particularly Richie's arc. We get why Seagal is looking for Richie. He killed his partner. We also get why Richie killed Bobby (in a very roundabout, clunky way) - Bobby was sleeping with Richie's girlfriend. We don't ever figure out the rest of Richie's plans. He speaks in code to his crew with lines like, "If you stick with me, this (money) and a lot more will be yours." and, "I've got some scores to settle.", but clearly he's rubbed some mobsters the wrong way and we never find out why. It's also entirely unbelievable that a police captain would just give the go-ahead to a detective to kill someone and work above the law. I expected a bit of resistance there.
There's also a really poor car chase, especially when compared to the chase in Marked for Death. Seagal makes the poor choice to drive down a street apparently lined with 100 speed bumps, which doesn't make one bit of sense. Add to that, the fact that he's got a puppy in the front seat without a seatbelt attached, and it equates to nothing but bad news.
The way women are treated in this movie is pretty awful, and I can't see this movie being made the same way today. Let's examine the women that we see in Out for Justice:
1. Two unnamed hookers get slapped around in the very first scene.
2. Bobby's wife is portrayed as a weak, jealous woman who ends up getting him killed.
3. Seagal's wife is basically worthless in the film - if you were to cut her out completely, the movie would be absolutely no different.
4. Roxanne (Richie's girlfriend) is cheating on Richie with Bobby and is only scene in the movie in two positions (both naked) - having sex with Bobby, and dead on a bed.
5. Erica (played by Julianna Margulies) is a hooker turned video store clerk who is portrayed as a weak and scared sex object.
6. A waitress at Patty's club is referred to simply as, "The one who could use her nipples to dial a phone."
7. Patty's first line when Seagal asks how she's been is, "I can still get it wet."
The editing is also atrocious. It makes some scenes clunky, particularly when our biker gets kicked at the end and seemingly dies, but we're not real sure how he died or if he's actually dead. Some accounts say he was kicked in the chest, some say the stomach, I thought it was the balls, but then he stumbles back into the wall and appears to be deceased. I did not count it as a kill on my Seagal kill count.
I guess we can't just not mention Seagal's beret.
I honestly had a great time with this movie. Seagal looked like he was having fun (although John Flynn later admitted that he did not have fun working with him), we get a strong supporting cast (specifically Forsythe and Gershon), and although the story is lame, the action and words more than make up for it.
My sequel idea for Out for Justice is titled The Price of Our Blood (the original title for the movie). It's actually a prequel, which means that Seagal isn't in the movie at all.
We'd start out seeing Gino Felino as a 9 year old, and we'll go through a story he tells in Out for Justice about hanging out with his uncle Pino (played by James Gandolfini). Pino tosses a guy in a trunk and takes Gino to the movies. From there, we film a coming of age story, a young Gino (played by Benny the Jet from The Sandlot), a young Bobby (Thomas Ian Nicholas from Rookie of the Year), and a young Richie (some unknown actor) go on adventures and we see how they started moving towards different sides of the law from a young age.
OTHER INTERESTING NOTES:
We get a tiny John Leguizamo cameo as a man who Richie accosts in an alley. We don't see him get shot in the head, but seeing as though Richie hadn't left anyone else alive in the movie, we can assume he's worm food.
We also get our second Breaking Bad cameo (the first being Hank in Hard to Kill) when we see Tuco in the background at the chop shop.
The original name for the script was The Price of Our Blood.
Seagal hosted Saturday Night Live to promote the movie and has been labeled the worst host of all time on the show. I tried to watch two skits, and they were just plain awful.