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A hard core Interpol Agent is assigned to an Eastern European task force to target gun trafficking and dope running throughout the Balkans. While investigating a Russian gun dealer, his team is caught in a bloody street war between a Gypsy gang and the Russians, leaving one task force member dead. Fueled with vengeance, he leads us on an action packed thrill ride while avenging his friend's death
I wish I could meet Steven Seagal, not only to ask for his autograph but also to sit down with him and discuss what's made his recent string of movies so disappointing for even a devoted fan like me. I would use "Born to Raise Hell" here as an example, being sure to compliment the film's strengths but also making clear to him exactly what about it sucks. I'm not so naïve to believe that Seagal is in total creative and technical control of each of his features, but perhaps I could convince him to take a more hands-on role in their production and perhaps aikido-chop the idiots who are truly responsible for the lackluster nature of some of these movies.
The plot: an international drug task force operating out of Romania, headed by ex-Interpol agent Samuel Axel (Seagal), sets its sights on bringing down the operations of a deadly and sadistic gang of drug traffickers...
People who don't like Steven Seagal by default are going to hate this movie. Seagal occupies most of the scenes (perhaps still making up for his absence throughout most of Against the Dark?) and his character is boisterous, arrogant, and most of the other characters cow to him in one way or another. Surprisingly, I found myself appreciating this: a supercilious Steven is still more fun to watch than the detached, bored-looking dope he played for a while in movies like Flight of Fury. However, whatever effort he seems to have made for this film is marred by extensive dubbing of his voice - something not present in his movies to this degree since the picture I just mentioned.Read more ›
Somehow, through over a decade of direct-to-video disasters, I remain a Seagal fan, hopeful there may be one last great film coming before he retires for good. Perhaps, as I've watched each of his low budget losers - films such as Out for a Kill or Submerged - some small part of my psyche manages to wax nostalgic over blockbusters of the past, such as Under Siege and The Glimmer Man, in an effort to deflect the pain inflicted by witnessing a great martial artist fade away into a caricature of himself. While Born to Raise Hell does little to dispell this trend, I assure you it is a watchable film which won't disappoint most fans. If Seagal did, indeed, write the screenplay himself, his ideas weren't bad ones but could have been better structured, and the characters needed more rapport with each other. The editing was a little puzzling, with freeze frames coming up at inappropriate times, but did not completely distract from the thrust of the film. The fight scenes were actually decent this time around, especially the fight scene in the restaurant which clearly did not use stupid gimmicks like speeding up the film or cutting so quickly you couldn't tell what happened - it was all Seagal, doing aikido again. His films need more of that. Overall, I'm "OK" with the film, though it wasn't the great come back gem for which I still yearn. Urban Justice remains his best recent release, the film that left my soul ignited anew with hope Seagal is on some sort of come back trail - the path may be skewed, and it may be a very slow burn - so I keep watching.
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After years of bottom-of-the-barrel direct-to-DVD-films, Seagal has made some decent films in the last couple of years, so I've come to expect more from him now than I did 3 or 4 years ago.
In "Born to Raise Hell", we get the usual ingredients, an eastern Europe setting (Romania), a crime boss, strippers, and of course, Seagal. Unfortunately, we also get uninspired writing and a slow moving plot. It doesn't start out well when Seagal, in narration, tells us that "six months ago my partner was killed. I'll find those responsible and bring them to justice" (approximate quote from memory). Seagal wrote this film and he's written a half dozen films before, so he should know one of the main rules of screenwriting: "Show, don't tell". Seagal films by nature, like Arnold films, Stallone films, Dolph Lundgren and Van Damme films, are star vehicles, one man shows. But this one suffers from a weak protagonist. We never get to know or care about Seagal's character and too much time is spent on secondary characters. I felt more sympathy for the Dimitri character, played by Dan Badarau. Towards the end of the film, he becomes its real star. First time director Lauro Chartrand is apparently an experienced stunt man but not a great director. Strange camera angles and silly jump cuts give the film a cheap, amateurish feeling. There are some action scenes, of course, but they're not that good (mainly shooting scenes, little fighting) and with the dull story we never really care.
"Born to Raise Hell" is decidedly less entertaining than some of Seagal's other recent films. For Seagal fans only.
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The DVD and packaging was fine, but the storyline and the acting was not Seagal's best work. Story moved slow. I noticed that you rarely saw Seagal's face doing the action... like there was a double doing most of his martial arts. And there wasn't that many martial arts in this movie compared to his other movies. And the really weird thing about this movie was the constant narration (I assume from Seagal's main character) but it didn't sound like Seagal to me. It was whispery like he whispers, but even more so. Though Seagal seems to get quieter and more whispery with every picture, his narration and even his main character lines were delivered too quietly for me to understand. I don't know if they couldn't get the mic levels up high enough to capture what he was saying or just that he was mumbling. I had to watch the movie with the subtitles on to understand what he was saying in the movie. This is no Exit Wounds, Half Past Dead or Fire Down Below. Those are some good Steven Seagal movies.