Born to Raise Hell (2011) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Steven Seagal’s latest Direct-to-DVD endeavor is more of the same from the aging action star. This time though he is credit as the sole screenwriter, odd, considering that there is very little ‘action’ in the film. I guess Seagal the writer prefers dialogue heavy scenes full of exposition over kicking and shooting. Veteran stuntman and first time feature director Lauro Chartrand does an adequate job making the fight scenes exciting, although his over reliance on slow-mo, flash frames, and other visual noise becomes obnoxious rather quickly.

The story is set (once again) in Eastern Europe, this time Seagal plays the leader of an International Drug Task Force. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s probably because they made it up for this movie. The opening voice-over (badly dubbed) explains that since 9/11 terrorist cells have been financed by drug money. So allied nations have come together to form a multi-ethnic police force headed by an American. Obviously Seagal has quite an imagination, at this point he could write science fiction.

‘Born to Raise Hell’ isn’t a terrible entry into the Seagal cannon, if simply for the reason that he appears in most of his scenes (sans a stunt-double or stand-in) and looks to be having fun from time to time. I appreciate that we have moved away from the shadow era in which Seagal was constantly draped in heavy lighting as to hide his increasingly puffy features. It’s refreshing to get a shot of the man in daylight, even if he isn’t as svelte as he once was. However the problem with this film is that it’s too similar to all the other mediocre films that Steven Seagal has pumped out over the last 10 years. While I’ve resigned to the fact that he will never appear in a film as entertaining as ‘Under Siege’ or ‘Out for Justice’ again, I was hoping that ‘Hell’ would be closer to ‘Pistol Whipped’ or ‘A Dangerous Man’ and less ‘Out for a Kill’. If you don’t recognize those titles don’t even bother watching this near miss from Aikido’s big man. (check out our Top 5 Best Steven Seagal Movies list)

Director: Lauro Chartrand
Stars: Steven Seagal, Dan Badarau, Darren Shahlavi

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