Made as a two-parter, Deadly Crossing (aka: Southern Justice) is the glossy pilot movie for a TV series created by its star Steven Seagal, who casts himself as stoic and slick yet portly super-cop Elijah Kane. It’s about Seattle cops of SIU, that tackle illicit drugs trade as undercover investigators using ‘sting’ operations against most violent villains, while also shunning visitor to their secret HQ, especially uniformed officers in patrol cars. It’s modern TV crime-fighting in the familiar urban chaos-suppression mode where divorce is an ‘occupational hazard’ for detectives.
Seagal is a screen hero who doesn’t fight bad guys, nowadays, he simply demolishes any opponents in seconds – armed or gun-less, it makes no difference, really, when he’s capable of such relentless bone-crunching violence, comprised mainly of quick-cuts and close-up aikido stunts. Most of Seagal’s recent work, such as The Keeper (also directed by Keoni Waxman), Mercenary For Justice, and Born To Raise Hell, has been of merely straight-to-DVD time-waster quality, at best.
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Here, the big man’s self-image problems are compounded with tactical errors, as he wears sunglasses at night and won’t even bother to remove his shades in daylight hours to shoot somebody.
The plot is unmemorable and strewn with as many TV cop show clichés as it is riddled with bullets. While she’s off-duty, novice undercover cop Sarah (Sarah Lind) is almost the victim of a car-jacking, but with a bit of sisterly guidance from experienced colleague Juliet (Meghan Ory), she gets over that and also copes with the discouraging and wholly chauvinistic attitudes of her male detectives. There are plenty of competent action scenes including a shoot-out on the street and a dockside warehouse gun battle to enjoy but don’t go expecting a genre storyline full of genuine intrigue or fascinating mystery.
While she’s in safe house custody, a crooked officer from the uniformed division is assassinated by a hidden sniper, and the mass slaughter of one troublesome redneck gang eventually reveals below-radar activities of Russian mobster Putin (Gil Bellows). In what’s perhaps the best non-action drama, Sarah and Juliet go to Putin’s nightclub hangout, where the glam duo, and their undercover backup men, are spotted almost immediately, cleverly psyched out by chief villain’s mind games, and promptly sent packing without gleaning a shred of evidence from the suspenseful encounter.