Movie review: “Mercenary for Justice”

Don’t ask.

Quite frankly, we were desperate.

We had spent almost half an hour in the DVD store tonight, repeating the conversation that must be typical of couples in DVD stores throughout the world:

“How ’bout this one?” “Nah, too gory.”
“This one?” “We’ve seen it.”
“Have we seen this one?” “Yip, a few months ago.”
“And this?” “Too.”
“Seriously?” “Yep. That one as well.”
“How about the kiddies’ section? Is the one we wanted last week in?” “No, ‘fraid not.”
“Well, how about that one?” “You won’t like it.”

So we settled on this mess of a movie.

Mercenary for Justice (2006) has reminded me of why I detest Steven Seagal. He is a singularly unattractive man, who mumbles as though he is heavily sedated, and he has absolutely no sense of style in his choice of clothes. Why and how his usually quite ravishing leading ladies put up with him is a mystery.

But perhaps he is a dear and friendly chap in reality. I even read that he is a Buddhist:

“Spiritualism and Buddhism plays an important role in Seagal’s life and he has been recognized by Tibetan lama Penor Rinpoche as a reincarnated Tulku (Chungdrag Dorje). According to Seagal in a November 2006 interview “I was born very different, clairvoyant and a healer”.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Seagal)

All of this seems rather strange, as every single one of his unbelievably bad movies I have ever sat through is about random death and arbitrary destruction. Healing doesn’t come into it. Neither does justice. Vengeance, more likely. None of which is in any way Buddhist.

Anyhow, ‘Mercenary for Justice’ (an ironic title if there ever was – I always thought that mercenaries – soldiers for hire to the highest bidder – would be the last people interested in justice) would have been bearable if he had at least put in the effort to create a plausible STORY LINE that doesn’t insult intelligent viewers!

The first 20 minutes or so of the movie were complete chaos: long rows of displaced black people wandering desolately across a war-ravaged countryside in a fictional Southern African island called Galmoral, which – bizarrely – had been taken over by the French (what the hey?! – my only explanation for this is that the scriptwriter must have been dissed by a French maiden while finalising the plot). 

So we have: a helicopter or two whirring above, tanks ploughing over cars and through walls, machine guns rattling, rocket grenades swoosh-kapowing, soldiers running, leaping, crouching and yelling, injured people squirting blood, flying through the air and dying operatically.

At the same time, we have: absolutely NO idea who was fighting against whom, whom we should be cheering on or booing, and where Seagal (playing the mercenary John Seeger, allegedly ‘the best in the business’) fits into the whole story.

The only redeeming feature of this movie was that it appeared to have been shot in South Africa, and mainly in and around Cape Town. We spotted some of the buildings in the City Centre, a shot of Table Mountain, a brief glimpse of Lion’s Head, and a very short pan across the Twelve Apostles. The Slangkop Lighthouse at Kommetjie was used as the venue where the bad guys hid out, and there was a beautiful Cape Dutch wine estate where the final shoot-out took place, but we couldn’t figure out where it was.

For a plot synopsis, click here.

The comment below was extracted from IMDB and pretty much encapsulates my opinion:

“If you’ve kept up with Seagal’s direct-to-video career (as I diligently have) “Mercenary for Justice” is certainly a step in the right direction. No, it’s not great movie, but it’s a whole lot better than most of his previous direct-to-video efforts.

First and foremost the cinematography is really well done. This movie looks great and feels “bigger” than most of Seagal’s previous direct to video movies.

Second, although there’s more gun-play than Aikido, Seagal performs in all his own action sequences (no stunt/body doubles) and the fight choreography is relatively classic Seagal (arm and wrist twisting / body tossing).

Third, Seagal’s voice doesn’t appear to be dubbed at any point during the movie (as it’s been in several of his other releases).

What’s bad is the usual: muddled story, poor supporting cast, some of the dialogue. The first 20 minutes of the movie lack a real cohesive setup / story (in fact, beside a brief freeze frame / still, Seagal doesn’t appear for the first 11 minutes or so). The opening also suffers from the classic low budget, “shooting a stunt from multiple angles – then intermittently cutting those different shots of the same stunt into the movie trying to sell it as a new event each time” trick. Oh well.

Bottom line: If you’ve kept up with Seagal this far in his career you won’t be disappointed with “Mercenary for Justice.””

Next time, I’m going to insist on a Jean-Claude van Damme movie. Although sure to be blood-soaked and filled with gratuitous violence, at least J-C has a bod to groan over.

——–

For other movies we’ve watched in May, click on:

2 thoughts on “Movie review: “Mercenary for Justice”

  1. If you want entertainment of a different kind, next time you might seek out a film called Dragon Fury. It’s a scifi kung fu flick with absolutely no redeeming features and no attempt to maintain internal logic (there is a time travel portal that you have to use topless, for no apparent reason; unless of course you’re the bad guy, in which case shirt and flowing Cloak of Evil are absolutely fine). It also boasts the line: “We only have 20 hours left to save the world. But first you need to rest and have sex.”

    Seriously. Worst Movie Ever. A must-see.

  2. I have made a note to inquire at the local DVD store.

    According to “Rotten Tomatoes”, it came out in 1995:

    “Mason, a dragon warrior from the future, returns to the year 1999 in search of a serum that can combat a disease simply known as “The Plague.” In the post-apocalyptic world of 2099 — after an earthquake has destroyed all of civilization has been — “The Plague” is the deadliest menace of all. And the cure for it lies in Earth’s past!”

    Sounds riveting.

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