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December 2010

Born To Raise Hell

cast: Steven Seagal, Darren Shahlavi, Dan Badarau, George Remes, and Calin Paiu

director: Lauro Chartrand

87 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Optimum DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by James A. Stewart

Born To Raise Hell

I can't help myself. I just can't. I try to wean myself off of the sickly sweet treat that is the Steven Seagal film and along comes an opportunity to review Born To Raise Hell. I should have known by the title - hell, some would argue that I should have known given it was a Steven Seagal film and it is not the late-1980s or early-1990s. But, as I said, the sickly sweet treat was just too tempting.

In this latest offering, Seagal is reduced to an asthmatic performance where he chases down some bad guys in a classic revenge for a fallen partner plot that moves as slow as the main actor. This is pretty much Seagal by numbers as he hunts down eastern European gangsters and drug lords with relentless antagonism, fighting with anyone who gets in his way.

It should be noted that Seagal, unlike most martial arts 'experts' in these types of films, is actually a 7th dan shihan in aikido and thus you can be sure that the portly star can actually break the bones that he is depicted as doing so in his films. Of course even the effortless grace of aikido isn't enough, as we need to see things smashed up and people thrown into furniture before a fight is realistic, well, in the Hollywood sense anyway.

In Born To Raise Hell you get everything you've had from Seagal before, plus a weird accent that I can't quite decide between either being down to him touching 60 years old or some lame attempt at an accent beyond the slow menace he usually tries to bring forth. Either way, it is about the only surprise in the film. Some of the actions are quite good particularly one fight scene in a restaurant, and the setting of eastern Europe provides a capable backdrop for this vehicle as the use of Balkan gangsters has become quite hackneyed in the last few years.

The cinematography is surprisingly slick, aided by some excellent locations, but is ruined in no small part by the director's apparent obsession with changes to the tempo of the cut; by this I mean speeding shots up or the odd, and I mean weird, slow down now and again.

Yep, Born To Raise Hell is chewing gum for the action lover's eyes. It is a testosterone filled movie aimed at the video game playing 25-40 year olds who still believe that they could still action heroes themselves. It won't be Seagal's last film and sadly, probably won't the last Seagal movie I watch. Damn addiction.



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