What better way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon than going Out for a Kill? This Steven Seagal direct-to-DVD endeavor is primarily noteworthy as it was the first movie produced with Confusovision 3000! The groundbreaking Confusovision 3000 editing process (patent pending) renders understanding plot details virtually unknowable.
The year is 2003. They were better times in many ways. No one knew who Justin Bieber was. If you said “Lady Gaga” they would assume you were talking about a baby girl. It’s shortly after Steven Seagal’s last big-screen feature film fizzled (Half Past Dead) in 2002. Now he’s starring in low budget crap like Out For A Kill. But, from the look in Steven Seagal’s eye – I think it’s called “hope” – Seagal hasn’t quite accepted his fate of reality shows, border patrols, musical sideshow, and z-movie star. It’s almost as though Seagal thinks he’s starring in a good movie. I assure you, Steven – may I call you Steven? – that is not the case.
In the curiously titled Out for a Kill, Seagal plays an archeologist, arguably the biggest stretch since Denise Richards played a “nuclear physicist” Bond girl. But, if the movie is to be believed, Seagal is not only an excellent archeologist he is a prestigious, AWARD winning one who we see accepting a trophy for, I kid you not, “Excellence in Archeology” at a banquet complete with copious flashing light bulbs. There’s certainly no event that the media savors like a lumbering archeologist’s acceptance speech.
What follows is crucial to the plot but I’m not sure exactly happened, so I’ll take my best guess: Seagal and his assistant are on a dig in China when their operation is used to smuggle drugs out of the country; they discover this and flee, and his assistant is killed while he’s arrested. The later stages of the movie seem to indicate this was an elaborate scheme to frame Seagal for the drug operation, while during the scenes it seems it was a straight smuggling operation that went badly. Honestly, does it matter?
Bottom line, Seagal is in jail in China suspected of being a drug dealer. When his wife (Kata Dobo) gets the phone call in America, the miniscule budget is exposed, as she drops the cup of coffee she’s drinking and we watch it cascade in slow motion . . . only not to break on impact. What? Any time some drops a cup out of shock and you watch it fall you see the thing shatter on the floor, right? Could they really not afford to re-shoot and get a coffee cup to break, or was it a matter they couldn’t afford to replace the coffee cup? *sigh*
Seagal is released from jail by DEA Agents in an attempt to lure the merging Chinese mafia families to the surface. It is a plan so stupid it is guaranteed to work.
Seagal attends the funeral of his assistant, where he and her father have a convoluted conversation so peculiar that I listened to three times just to make sure I got right. The Father is Chinese, a fact that I think is important to the intended Zen nature of the encounter. This is part of the exchange, which is a case of, “I understand every word you just said, just not the order in which you utilized them”:
Victim’s father: “A mind is a mirror. A bright light shining. Be sure to clean it every day. Allow no dust to cling.”
Seagal: “There is no mirror. There is no dust. There is no darkness. Only the mind is light. I think you know what I have to do.”
Of course! It all makes . . . sense now? Though I’m sure what he has to do is REVENGE, because that’s what he’s out for other than a kill.
I think Seagal should have been Out for a Translator. Mercifully, the funeral scene ends in one of many second-rate fight scenes where the goons of the Chinese mafia go unsuccessfully out to kill our archeologist hero.
Later, while Seagal is standing in front of a greenscreen outside his home, his house is blown up with his wife inside, so NOW he’s out for even MORE revenge than he was before!
From this point forward, Out for a Kill employs a unique method of deterring spoilers – it makes it impossible for the audience to know what the heck is happening. Seriously, I don’t think I could describe to you in any detail the events that occur in the last half of the film, and to be brutally honest . . . I’m mostly guessing on the aforementioned plot descriptions.
I strongly suspect that Seagal’s character mows through the Chinese underworld and discovers that the clues to getting to the big boss are tattooed on the forearms of his henchmen. I also distinctly recall during the ultimate showdown between Seagal and the big boss, Seagal accuses the villain of using Seagal to eliminate his henchmen so he didn’t have to share the wealth. Oh, so mafia framing the archeologist was all a ruse to get the archeologist to wage a war and cripple the mafia! It’s all so unclear.
Of course, the confusion in and of itself is reason enough to see Out for a Kill . . . assuming you love bad movies like I do and you have a free hour and a half like I did.
Confusovision techniques are so effective at creation confusion that it’s entirely possible this film features Seagal as a globetrotting insurance salesman. Or maybe I’m misremembering the movie entirely. Perhaps Seagal isn’t even in the film. That very well could star a cardboard cutout, a Philly cheesesteak, or perhaps Dolph Lundgren in the lead role. If the lead role even happened. The jury is out on whether anyone in the cast was aware they were being filmed for a motion picture. Regardless, the end result is utterly incongruous.
To intentionally make a movie this bad is impossible, and for their achievement the filmmakers are to be admired in a strange way, and not allowed to sully cinema again. For further evidence of this statement, see Out for a Kill director Michael Oblowitz’s follow-up film, the SyFy Channel Original film Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy. On second thought, don’t ever see Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy – it’s a movie so bad I couldn’t make it through. And I once sat all the way through Out for a Kill!
–Daniel J. Roos
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