on May 29, 2002
Even predictable action flicks provide good escapism. Some of the predictability does not happen because the script needed another rewrite.
I am a Steven Segal fan. My first choice in films is action. "Exit Wounds" did not disappoint me on either count. However, several undeveloped script elements are just ploys to introduce characters or transition locations. Many of the problems with the movie belong to the screenwriter or film editor. I would have liked to see deleted scenes, which were not included in the DVD special features.
Segal's fight scenes are not overdone: he goes in, gets the job done without excess violence, and walks away calmly. He could be considered a knight of the round table, a Jedi master, a starship captain, or your average guy with extraordinary qualities.
This movie is action driven, but the intelligence that Segal brings to all of his characters shows through. Detroit cop Orin Boyd is a maverick officer, and his one-man shows frequently get him into trouble. The opening scene depicts him using his gut instinct, which is based in deductive reasoning and observation skills. He sees a cop, with a scraped ear, wearing an earring; the patrolman is one of the entourage who is escorting the Vice President from the podium, where he spoke about gun control, back to his hotel. Boyd rescues the VP from an assassination attempt, but instead of gratitude, he is sent from one precinct to another.
Who are these assassins? That inherent question is never answered, though I thought it would be before the movie ended. I see this as an opening gambit to create the plausible impression that "bad cops" were involved. However, even scene setting should have a reasonable answer.
Jill Hennesy is the captain of the new precinct and requires that Boyd attend a "rage class." In the class, he meets Tom Arnold, who is the comic relief, and never fails to do his job right. The classroom and meeting were also just a tool to provide a trusted resource when the investigation of a drug ring left no one to trust. Completely undeveloped is the romance between Hennesy and Segal, though innuendoes and quips pass between the two. A beautiful woman and a virile man, obviously attracted to one another, may have added the sparkle that is missing from most action films; it would have been so natural here, and not taken the focus away from the plot.
DMX, like Segal, carries an aura of calm assurance. He is dynamic and sexy, and could well be another superstar and box office draw. His character is quiet, and his reasons for the involvement in the drug investigation are excellent.
Even with the problems, I know I will watch this movie many more times. Therefore, I give it four stars. If you do not like violent, action packed movies with undeveloped script elements, then you might not like this one.
This isn't "Nebraska" or to be confused with the films of David Lean..... it's what my fiancee calls "a boy movie" .. in music it would be Dumb Hard Rock, but heck AC/DC is fun isn't it? Unlike the dozens of direct to video films that have come after , this is a full on widescreen Joel Silver high production value action flick. You can't be too literal when viewing , Seagal's fall from grace is set up by saving the Vice Presidents life for goodness sake if that gives you any indication of the backflips done in the screenplay alone! Seagal was thin, no pony tail and full of classic one liners. This movie also features a really top notch supporting cast and I actually always get a kick out of Tom Arnold as the comic foil. If you liked his first half dozen big time films from Above the Law through Marked for Death , you will enjoy this one and the BR edition looks great , ports over the few bonus features from the DVD and I picked it up on Amazon.com for under 10 bucks... I can't get into a movie theater these days for that price... so while this isn't "Unforgiven" .... for what it is and how it's priced its a solid 5 star value for me.
on May 29, 2006
This is one of the better Seagal Action movies and features a convincing DMX who shows he has some movie star charisma and acting chops. It's not UNDER SEIGE but it's far better than GLIMMER MAN, ON DEADLY GROUND and FIRE DOWN BELOW. It's also better than all of Seagal's direct to video fare. You also don't have to worry about him singing any Country-Western or blues songs in this one.
Seagal does not really act, but he does have an interesting charisma. At his best he's a poor-man's Clint Eastwood, who's spare Akido influenced martial arts moves are bone break-ingly no nonsense, macho stuff. He frowns a lot, he grimaces once in a while, he's sometimes photographed at unflattering angles, has vampire like teeth, runs like a girl and he almost never raises his voice and stays very very-- sometimes zombie-like, calm.
At times, Seagal's acting is so minimal you want to laugh at the irony that you actually wanted to spend your money to watch this guy. I mean I still can't decide if I think Seagal is a first class jerk with little talent (rumors of his big ego persist) or if he's kind of cool. It's remarkable he's gotten away with what he does in more than a dozen big screen movies and at least that many direct to video mistakes.
Seagal you'll notice almost right away in this movie still has that walk of his. Movie stars like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Robert Mitcum, Humphrey Bogart, and James Cagney, to name just a few used to have interesting walks. Walks which were full of attitude and set them apart from regular people. Seagal has a special way of walking... strutting actually. It's a modified Pimp's walk. Oh not the herky jerky kind of Huggy Bear (of Starsky and Hutch fame) walk, but more the Fred Williamson or Ron -Superfly- O'neal type of strut. When you add Seagal's greased back hair (he got rid of his pony-tail a few years ago) perpetual frown, wrinkled forehead and slanted eyebrows, with the strut, he drips with the I'm a pis-ssed-off-bad-a-s-s-vibe that action movie hero's since Eastwood and Bronson are supposed to exude. Seagal's got the attitude, and he's shed most of that beer belly gut he had during the last few films he walked through (on video about three years ago, on screen it's been four years). He may be 50 years old but he's quite willing and able to do some impressive looking martial arts moves and play cops and robbers quite well.
The film also stars Issiah Washington-- a real actor. Why he isn't working in better movies I have no idea. Issiah isn't actually asked to do much acting, but you can tell if the script asked him to do any, he would have been able to pull it off.
DMX (aka Earl Simmons) is another reason people were initially curious about this film. Perhaps the biggest reason. And he has some presence in the film. I'm not sure how good of an actor he actually is since he's playing a pretty cliché'd kind of character through most of the film. He acts tough, does some physical stunts (or seems to be doing them) very well and when he's supposed to have some warmth and the audience is supposed to like him--we do. He doesn't embarrass himself and has some on-screen charisma that's not the same as other rap stars turned movie stars. He contributes a few songs to the soundtrack as well--including an interesting version of the Bill Wither's hit Ain't No Sunshine.
Maybe the worst news about this movie is that we have not one... but two characters who are in the movie mostly to provide comic relief. They are written into the movie in a very forced manner and the actors that have been cast don't do themselves any favor by trying much too hard to be funny with the material they are given. Anthony Edwards and Tom Arnold try way to hard to be funny. They usually annoy. You might enjoy their end credit comic riffing however.
So what's THE STORY? The story updates ,merges and dumbs down Dirty Harry and Serpico.
During the first sequence some bad guys impersonate cops to try and kidnap a politican. Seagal as Orin Boyd, a decorated but Lone Wolf kind of hero-cop, is the only officer who notices that the impersonating cops are breaking regulation by wearing earrings. Hundreds of cops around and only our hero sees the irregularity and suspects something funny might be going. Some sort of gadget passes hands and Orin is the only guy who pays this any attention.
Cue the action complete with some bloodshed and a climax involving the fiery explosion of a helicopter.
In the process of saving the politician's life Orin has embarrassed the politician and caused lots of damage, endangered lots of lives and broke lots of rules. He's a decorated hero cop so he's transferred to the worst ghetto precinct you could imagine where a lot of misfit neanderthal cops work.
Oh that old chestnut huh? Yep.
What you couldn't imagine is that this precinct is run by a woman whom everyone pretends doesn't look like a cover-girl model. She's tough though and sends Orin to anger management classes and eventually demotes him to traffic cop. It's at the anger management school that Orin meets up with the t.v. talk show host played by Tom Arnold.
However Orin has quickly had a run-in with the local drug king pin, Latrell Walker (played by DMX), and his over-weight comical assistant and combo dance/strip club owner, T.K. (played by Anthony Anderson). When he tries to be the lone -wolf hero and take Latrell down he winds up screwing up another cops undercover operation. This is what gets him demoted temporarily to a traffic cop.
Oh but something isn't quite right with the picture and Orin discovers that dirty cops are involved and not all the players are who, they at first, seemed to be. I know this will come as a huge shock to action movie fans (NOT).
This leads to Orin getting involved in several scrapes that lead to a fairly big shoot-out/ action scene to wrap things up.
All of this takes supposedly takes place in Detroit. If you haven't been to Detroit you probably won't notice that Toronto is where the movie has been shot.
There's no romance in the film and outside of some naked club dancers and the brief hint of a flirtation, none of the stars have any on-screen relationships with women. In fact we have no idea about Seagal's private life in the film at all. You want depth? Go swim in the deep end of the pool. This is a Joel Silver action movie darn it.
Exit Wounds, is just one more time-wasting action movie that too many people weren't able to resist, so it became successful at the box-office. It's slightly better than you probably think it is, but you would still be better off satisfying your macho movie 'jones' by watching some action movies from Hong Kong (directed by Johnny To, Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark or John Woo to start with), but hey, this one is in English.
IMAGE AND SOUND
Overal the 2.35:1 anamorphic wide screen transfer looks very good. The film has lots of nigh scenes and the black levels are strong and shadow details pretty good. There's some pixalation in a few scenes and if you want to be really picky you'll notice several white spot drop outs that are the result of some wear and tear on the original print used for the transfer. That's a bit disappointing that they didn't find a print in better condition or combine a couple of prints to Create one pristine one to transfer, but it's a pretty minor distraction. There doesn't seems to be too many problems with edge enhancements or bouncing video levels either.
There's only one soundtrack on the DVD and it's in 5.1 dolby. If you don't have the 5 channel system you'll be hearing a squeezed version of it which others call a down-mix. That means some of the squeezed together separation will create some muddier sound effects but usually it is not problematic and it won't affect your ability to hear dialogue.
The 5.1 track is utilized quite well. There's lots of big bangs and sound is bounced around from the various channels so there are plenty of left to right, back and forth, and right to left sound effects. When a noisy Humvee drives across the screen the sound moves through the room as well. This however isn't always the case... which is a bit puzzling. Why in the opening action sequence is the bun battle now nearly as lively as the one later in the film? The music score , occasional DMX songs and several sound effects are base heavy, so the LFE is being used throughout the film.
The longest extra is the obligatory behind the scenes puff piece. There's the expected discussion about Seagal's come-back (of sorts) the casting of DMX and pre-planning for the film. Everyone is upbeat and positive and congratulating and praising everyone else of course. You do hear from Seagal, who sounds a bit tired and bored as well as producer Joel Silver who sounds enthusiastic. We get to see how a few stunts were done and see how the wire work played a big part in making Seagal look pretty good in the action scenes. Seagal as we see is a very agile athletic guy and he doesn't look 50 years old.
There is also the 9 plus minute feature called A Day on the Set with Anthony Anderson. Anderson plays T.K. in the film and he's often called upon to be the comic relief. We follow him from his hotel room, to his trailer, to the set for a scene he is shooting, and then, at the end of the day, he does a bit of a comic rant about what a long hard day it has been and how he has sacrificed so much to give those of us in the audience some entertainment value. Anderson's running commentary is only occasionally amusing and we don't see enough on the set type action for the piece to have much value.
The music video is presented in wide screen (but it is not anamorphic). Mysteriously the audio for the video is in Dolby 2.0. It should certainly have been in 5.1. The re-make, hip-hop version of the Ain't No Sunshine sounds okay in 2.0.
on May 14, 2013
I admitt they started speeding up the fight sceens which I hate. They did it in the Rocky movies too....looks stupid. BUT if you like & are used to the actors you will enjoy the movies. I found "fire down below" to be quite funny the way he throws everyone around. Pretty much does that in all his movies but the movies after this one I just can't sit & watch. I threw them in the garbage. Hey, we get older & fatter. Don't look good on film. Oh, another good one is "hard to kill"
on May 19, 2001
If this movie doesn't contian every single cliche for a cop movie it wasn't for the lack of trying. The first ten minutes of the movie was almost comicly bad with a helicopter exploding from being shot with a handgun, to the top offical dressing down the hero for saving the day. Fortunataly the movie recovers with some fairly good action sequences. Some of the dialoge is actually amusing, and as with most Segaul movies the fighting is done in a fast powerfull and very enjoyable style. DMX has a solid performance, and if the acting isn't ocar quality, it is solid and consistant between the actors. What seperates the good from the bad in this genre is how little the story acts as a conduit for the action while manageing to stay out of the way. Story problems have killed Segual's last couple of movies and badly hurt "Romeo Must Die" of which this movie is an odvios clone. This story about corrupt cops and heroin dealers is a good one in that anyone who has seen a cop movie before knows every plot turn before it happens, and the actors don't have to stop and explain what is going on.
Overall this is a great piece of thoughtless entertianment, for that weekend evening when thinking is just too much work.
on March 9, 2016
Wow Steven Seagal, DMX, and Tom Arnold!! I could not think of a better trio and am glad Hollywood finally got something right with casting. It just works, hard to explain unless you really watch the movie and take it in. I really enjoyed the action scenes and the emotionless gazes DMX and Seagal gave each other throughout this movie. This movie does look and sound great on Blu-ray. When DMX is revving the engine of his Lamborghini it's like he's right in my living room!
on May 18, 2005
Despite Fire Down Below being a No. 1 hit in America, it went straight to video here in the UK and killed Seagal's career for four years. But then veteran action producer Joel Silver thrust Steve back in the limelight, put him on the Slimfast diet gave him slightly better material to work with. After all, an actor can only do as good as the script.
From a novel of the same name by John Westerman (but bearing minimal resemblance to it) the plot centers on Orin Boyd, a cop busted down to patrolman after a rough encounter with the Vice-President. Once on the streets Boyd's suspicious nose can't keep him out of trouble with undercover cops who are trying to bust local Drug Boss Latrell Walker...or so it seems.
There are many attempts at irony throughout the movie and surprisingly enough most of them work. Boyd is forced to attend rage control classes in which he meets eccentric TV host Henry Wayne (Tom Arnold) who becomes his wannabe partner. But sadly enough the classes don't work as Boyd continues to uses violence first, ask questions later. And there is a public service announcement too; Seagal survives a car wreck by airbag. A later car crash victim doesn't have one and dies.
Dozens of cop movie cliches staple the flimsy script together. And the bad guys are obvious from the moment they appear on screen. Bartkowiak's direction is better than in his debut Romeo Must Die, and adds a heavy dose of frenetic rush to such a fast-paced film. However the set-up and execution of the story is so dull you'll forget about it half an hour after the credits roll.
Seagal has learned a little, just a little, more in the acting area but still doesn't know how to express himself much. There's too much frowning and not enough other emotions from Boyd. We do want to feel more from him but he won't allow us. I guess this is just how Seagal is. He just can't get away from himself no matter what role he plays. I wish Seagal would try harder, but he just never bothers with making an effort.
Warner...release a Blu Ray, the DVD looks good, but it can look a lot better!
In the late 1980s and early 1990's, it looked as though Seagal would join the ranks of Hollywood's top action stars. You would hear his name in the same sentence with Arnie and Stallone, no small feat indeed. And to a large degree, Seagal's films deserved the comparison. "Under Siege" was a winner, as were "Hard to Kill" and "Above the Law." The actor's greatest appeal isn't hard to fathom; Seagal embraced a brutal form of martial arts that, at least onscreen, allowed him to slap down thugs, break bones, and wreak massive havoc without batting an eye. Literally, Seagal would stand in place and put down one goon after the other with an ease that looked not only natural but also realistic. I still enjoy watching that pool room scene where Seagal's character used pool cues, billiard balls, and whatever else he could lay his hands on to put out the trash. Alas, how the mighty have fallen. The early 1990s may as well be ancient history as far as Steven Seagal is concerned. Although he's still capable of making a few entertaining films, like his comeback picture "Exit Wounds," far too often we're seeing movies like "The Foreigner" and "Ticker."
Amazingly, Seagal doesn't play an intelligence operative or freelance secret agent in "Exit Wounds." Nope, he's nothing more than a hotshot Detroit cop named Orin Boyd in this movie. Of course, Seagal's character angers the top brass when he carelessly intervenes to save the vice president from a group of militia nuts bent on assassination. Why the police and secret service agents would express anger at a man who single handedly saved the second highest government official from certain doom is beyond me, but it does present the viewer with the first of many implausible events that pop up from time to time in this picture. To punish the errant officer, officials send Boyd to the worst precinct in town, the lowly Fifteenth. Once there Orin Boyd runs afoul of the gorgeous Commander Mulcahy (Jill Hennessy), gets sent to an anger management class where he meets the loudmouthed Henry Wayne (Tom Arnold at his most grating), and botches a drug sting set up by the suspicious Montini (David Vadim). Despite the fact that Montini nearly took Boyd's head off with a power tool, Mulcahy punishes Boyd assigning him to traffic detail. No matter what he does, Seagal's character can't catch a break. Even his new fellow officers seem to despise him, with the exception of his new partner George Clark (Isaiah Washington) and the beefy Sergeant Strutt (Michael Jai White).
Still, Orin Boyd is a cop's cop, and he quickly proves his mettle by latching on to the case of suspected drug dealer Latrell Walker (DMX), the very same case Montini was working on. When someone robs police headquarters of a boatload of heavy narcotics, Boyd knows something big is about to go down. The answers seem to lie around Walker and his boisterous companion T.K. (Anthony Anderson). Well, looks often deceive, and nothing is more deceptive than Latrell Walker. In a series of plot twists, Boyd discovers a big secret about this supposed inner city dope peddler, a secret that will eventually lead to the discovery of a lot of dirty laundry at the very precinct house where Boyd now works. "Exit Wounds" treats us to one slam-bang action scene after another as Seagal works hard to bring the bad guys to justice. We see car chases, massive shootouts, exploding helicopters, expensive cars, surprisingly gory scenes of carnage, fistfights, swordfights, martial arts action, car jumping, and just about anything else that has ever appeared in an action film. It's as though the filmmakers couldn't decide what they wanted to do so they just threw everything, including the kitchen sink, into the mix.
I have to say I liked "Exit Wounds." Seagal shed many of those embarrassing pounds to play a rather active Orin Boyd. Some of the martial arts scenes where he puts his man down for good look just like the good old days. Even more surprisingly, his character plays for laughs. Witness the desk-crushing scene at the anger management class and his experience as a traffic cop for proof of this assertion. Although self-parody is usually the last refuge of an ailing action star, Seagal pulls it off well. It doesn't hurt to have the frenetic Anthony Anderson hamming it up all over the place either. Too, I was impressed with some of the faces I saw in the movie. Aside from the previously mentioned Jill Hennessy, Tom Arnold, and Isaiah Washington, we also see Bill Duke, Eva Mendes, and Bruce McGill having fun in minor parts. Even DMX does a good job, and I despise rappers. But, and this is a big but, there are many illogical scenes that had me shouting out loud in disbelief. To cite but one example, I couldn't help but groan in amazement at the scene where Mulcahy's vehicle soars off the second, or possible third, story of a parking garage only to roar off down the street seemingly untouched. Oh brother!
For this type of film, the extras are amazingly abundant. You get a trailer, a DMX music video, a lengthy making of feature, a special "Day in the life of Anthony Anderson" featurette, and extensive cast and crew filmographies. Even Seagal the Great sits down to discuss his role in the picture. The behind the scenes stuff tells us that Joel Silver produced the movie, explains how the stunt scenes used wires to suspend and move around the characters, and breaks down most of the action sequences. I heartily recommend "Exit Wounds" to action fans. Sure, it's a later stage Seagal picture, but it's also a very good Seagal picture.
on July 4, 2016
on November 13, 2014
I only wish that Seagal (skinny in this early movie, which is kind of funny and nice to see for a change) had given Michael Jae White more screen time and more fight action. Would have loved more aikido fighting, but this is thirteen years ago now, before Seagal really got rolling. Nice older flick, humorous at times, plenty of twists and a few wow-did-that-just-happen moments.