Enter Boredom With Seagal and 'Exit Wounds'

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Enter Boredom With Seagal and 'Exit Wounds'

Steven Seagal, the Buddhist with a vengeance, is back from the temples with his current release, "Exit Wounds." Sure he's gotten a tad chubby, his toupee looks awful and he still runs funny, but with 10 films under his belt, audiences have grown to respect this man's kick if not his acting.

Starting his Hollywood career at the ripe old age of 38 and with no prior experience, this man has surprisingly carved his own niche in a popular genre of films; not exactly a happy-go-lucky Jackie Chan and not a model-like Jean Claude Van Damme either. Seagal instead plays dead serious but low-key tough guys who never seem to blink when bashing opponents around.

While loyal fans of Seagal may lament that he has finally succumbed to fashion codes worldwide and gotten rid of his trademark ponytail, they will rejoice in the fact that basically everything else (and I mean everything) about his movies has remained the same. That is, everything except for his usually stunning action scenes.

Formulaic to the core, "Exit Wounds" features all the standard sub-plots, gun fights and car/motorcycle chase scenes of previous films. Viewers not familiar with his films should make no mistake about what they are getting into by watching the latest. This is nothing more, nothing less than a big budget action movie with a low budget script. Unless you strongly appreciate martial arts or have never watched a filmed gun fight in your life, you won't be too impressed.

Seagal plays Orin Boyd, a typical bad-attitude cop who gets demoted to Detroit's toughest precinct as punishment for embarrassing the vice-president. Once there, he puts his nose to the ground and sniffs out trouble like a good ol' boy's hound dog. Predictably, his penchant for some old-fashioned righteousness and need to unleash fury upon criminals leads him to suspect Latrell Walker (rapper DMX). Walker is accused of stealing confiscated drugs from a police vault, but later Boyd discovers that police corruption is really at the heart of the matter.

Basically a shameless reproduction of "Lethal Weapon 4," the characters in this movie unconvincingly play the same roles of those from the more successful film by Richard Donner. Steven Seagal's character is the hot-headed cop (Mel Gibson's role in "LW4"), while Isaiah Washington plays his more reserved partner (Danny Glover). Tom Arnold plays a talk show host who can't hold a candle to Joe Pesci's performance, and Anthony Anderson replaces Chris Rock as the token black comedian. DMX takes Jet Li's place as the mysterious ultra-cool villain, no doubt because of his popularity as a musician.

In "Lethal Weapon 4" both Glover and Gibson repeat the line "I'm getting too old for this job," despite both of them being in tiptop shape. Although Seagal's character never says this line, from his sluggishness you get the feeling that he should. Since pushing 50 years old is hard work itself, Seagal's once lightning-fast fight scenes are being replaced more with scenes where he exercises his trigger finger. This is the most unfortunate aspect of the film, for there is no denying that the man's fight scenes have always been impressive and this is what most audiences are really paying to see.

The film is a far cry from Seagal's previous "The Glimmer Man," which skillfully combined action with the comedy of Keenen Ivory Wayans. Joel Silver only once reproduces the frozen-in-mid-air kicking sequences that made "The Matrix" such an enormous success. Andrzej Bartkowiak's routine direction is a further disappointment and gives the movie the same ridiculous feel as his notoriously horrid debut "Romeo Must Die."

Even the title doesn't really work. "Exit Wounds"? Is this supposed to be some kind of a throwback or tribute to Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon"? In any case, you'll be too mind-numbed to try and decipher any hidden meaning. Perhaps you're better off just buying the soundtrack, since DMX does know his music. Someday, he too may follow in the footsteps of rappers-turned-actors like Will Smith and L.L. Cool J, but he won't get accolades for a movie like this.

by Joseph Kim

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