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3.2 out of 5 stars
Mercenary for Justice
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2006
The theatrical release is no longer the benchmark for success for an actor since fewer people see films in theatres and many rather "big" names are now making DTV films: IE. Hillary Swank, Chuck Norris, Demi Moore etc. They are just beginning to find out what Seagal has known for quite a while. The issue was that some, not all, of Seagal's DTV films were lacking in quality, and perhaps only worthy of a DTV release. However, "Black Dawn" was a production that changed that poor quality trend, and "Mercenary" proves to be an even better follow up than "Dawn." Seagal's critics might as well be shoveling smoke if they continue on with the tired redundant insults now, because he is obviously having the last laugh, with a vengeance. Like "Dawn", this film has good production, but unlike "Dawn", and fortunately, this film has a lot of hand to hand combat with no doubles, no dubbing, sleek production, an intricate plot, cool locations, etc. Note: This is hands down the most violent of Seagal's films, with an exhausting body count, but the core of it has a redemptive story which I am sure Seagal would not have any other way. He could do better, but he could also do a lot worse. If he keeps going in this direction, then this Icon has a lot of fight left in him.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2006
Not as good as Belly Of The Beast but for me this is Seagals second best DTV yet. He is back doing his own fight scenes, minimal dialogue dubbing and the odd flash of Seagals personality comes through. The last third of the movie is taken up with all action as Seagal goes to the main villain's hideout to take him out. The movie opens with a well executed all action setup with helicopters and tanks by Seagal DTV movie standards, continues the action sequences all throughout the movie with a nice bank heist set piece half way through but does stretch believability a little. However Mercenary For Justices biggest draw back is again like most of Seagals DTV movies, the script. I have no idea why or what was going on for the opening 20 minutes of this movie. We have Seagal and his team of mercs caught in a big firefight then another team of mercs captures the French Ambassador and his family and appears to be bringing them back to Seagal. Then the merc team who captured the French Ambassador blows him up along with his family??? This merc team appears to be working with Seagal?? Seagals buddy gets killed ala Into The Sun and Seagal calls the helicopter backup to pick them all up. Why didn't he call it earlier??? Once Seagal is back from his mission his buddy's family is kidnapped by the movies main villain and they force Seagal to take a mission for them. This is where the movie begins correctly for me as I have no clue what all the previous stuff was about other than for Seagals buddy to get killed? Other than this Mercenary For Justice is what Seagal fans have been demanding from Seagals DTV movies, action, almost no Seagal dubbing and Seagal on screen fighting even if the camera in this case is a little to close to fully appreciate Seagals moves. He is still over weight and is still lumbered with bad scripts and he is still one dimensional in his dialogue delivery but he has been making quality improvements in his latest DTV's compared to Submerged and to an extent Today You Die. It also drags a little in the middle especially as we get a True Lies scene with Seagal dancing with the drop dead gorgeous Jacqueline Lord. Also a scene in a prison during a double cross is very similar to the scene in Alcatraz from The Rock. Mercenary For Justice is not perfect and it's quality for me is measure to Belly Of The Beast which is by no means one of Seagals best either. Seagal fans who have stuck with him this far should be very happy with Mercenary For Justice. Others will only find the usual things to laugh at found in all of Seagal DTV movies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2007
We, Sid the Elf, are worried that Steven Segal, the early favorite for a 2008 woody, will take a reduced acting role in the new B he's now producing. Don't do it Segal! Sid needs you in Unintentional Comedies like fans of your smooth ballads need you to keep pumping out albums. Yeah, albums. Segal actually took time away from his lucrative film and competitive eating careers to make sweet sweet baby-making music.

This is why Mercenary for Justice fell short of Sid's lofty expectations for a Segal flick. He just wasn't in it enough. This movie had a killer ending, which was the only part of the plot that revolved around Segal, of course that might be because the man has his own gravitational pull at this point. There is one point when they show him from a profile view in a suit. He has a distinctly white Biggie Smalls on the cover of Life After Death vibe. Which brings up another point. Since when did Segal start talking like he's black? I guess all those years of working with illustrious actors such as Treach, DMX, and Ja Rule have taken their toll on our favorite portly-size action star. Segal is like aging adult-film star at this point. The camera angle has to be perfect, and the action better be sped up to keep the viewer um...interested. Like we said in our Urban Justice review they need to do some very fancy camera work to make a 285 pound senior appear to be moving quickly.

So, Sid's final thoughts: this is a movie that makes no sense whatsoever. But, if you're looking for a movie to pop in and get some unintentional comedy laughs at, look no further than Mercenary for Justice; starring Steven Segal, his huge pot belly, and his Michael Myers wig.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"Mercenary for Justice" has a lot of things going for it: it skips the more obvious production snafus of Steven Seagal's DTV exploits, has a pretty good supporting cast to show up the star, and has an overall tone of wanting to succeed - more so than the tired, voiced-over attempts that bookend it (Attack Force,Black Dawn). On the other hand, the film suffers from a lack of focus that eventually disintegrates a promising story into little more than a wannabe-smart-but-actually-dumb vehicle for Seagal, and makes the movie's unsatisfying action content painfully clear.

The story's a bit of a doozy, but here goes: John Seeger (Seagal) is an ex-military mercenary who's strong-armed into a controversial mission by threats to the lives of his deceased best friend's family. Ordered to join a team of guns-for-hire to break a rich arms-dealer's son out of prison, Seeger is double-crossed when his bosses reveal their ulterior motive - prompting Seeger to fight back in his own way.

The film's first 20 minutes are its highlight: the massive, Black Hawk Down-inspired shootout is probably the most professional-looking scene that's ever been featured in Seagal's DTV career, and is definitely something I had never seen him involved in before. It's extremely well done for this kind of movie, and effectively starts it off with promise. Sadly, the action takes a turn for the mundane, and we're left with a remaining 70 minutes of repetitive shootouts, throat-slitting, and a sloppy hand-to-hand fight scene in a bathroom. While the gunplay remains decent, the fact that the majority of the casualties counted by Seagal are police officers, prison guards, security personnel, and various other non-bad guys puts a bit of a disappointing dent in the "Justice" part of the title. Seagal is supposed to be a good guy!

As for the acting, it's a bit of a hit & miss: without mentioning mumbly Seagal, there's Luke Goss ("Hellboy 2"), Roger Guenveur Smith (A Huey P. Newton Story), Michael Williams (The Wire: The Complete Series), Adrian Galley (The Deal), and Langley Kirkwood (Final Solution) getting a piece of the action, and they all generally do well with their roles. Still, you can't help but wonder whether a talent like Goss was miscast as a pathetic CIA producer when he's capable of kicking butt in his other movies...

What really brings the film down, however, is the plot's overcomplication: while it kind of makes sense when you think about it after the film has ended, trying to understand the motives, relationships between the characters, and exactly who's doing what is a real chore whilst watching. For example, when Seagal begins to get a few up on his adversaries, you don't know at once that he's doing it because there's no explanation to the villains' misfortunes until five minutes later. This happens more than once, and kills the satisfaction of watching the evildoers get theirs - a plot tool that's one of the few things that Seagal is really good at.

In all, I'm not surprised that Seagal and director Don FauntLeRoy pulled off Urban Justice as their next attempt, for "Mercenary for Justice" showed a lot of promise. Alas, that's all it really is - promises that aren't fulfilled. I wish very much that a different writer had been hired - I have no doubt that the plot could've been delivered better by somebody who had done more than work on short films before he undertook a full-length feature. For what it's worth, this one's staying on my shelf...but it doesn't stand a good chance of overtaking any other film up there anytime soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 21, 2011
With a half decent story, competently executed action scenes, and moderately interesting characters, Mercenary For Justice (2005) is an action flick you can watch without constantly thinking about how far Steven Seagal has fallen from his glory days. The direct to video release, teams Seagal and director Don E. FauntLeRoy together for the fifth time. Shot on location in South Africa, Mercenary For Justice is not great film, but it still remains notable, simply for not being as terrible as some of the aikido practitioner's more recent efforts.

The story is rather complicated, as Anthony Chapel (Roger Guenveur Smith) puts together a team of mercenaries for a top secret mission in Africa. Included in the operation is mercenary John Seeger (Seagal), and Maxine Barnol (Jacqueline Lord) working undercover as a reporter. Unfortunately things go very wrong, and the operation is a disaster with numerous fatalities. Behind it all is John Dresham (Luke Goss) of the CIA, whom Seeger blames for the failure.

Chapel's next job is to affect the release of the son of an arms dealer being held in a prison in South Africa, and he pressures Seeger into joining his team, by abducting the family of close friend. The team arrives in Cape Town with just a few days to complete their mission. Dresham has persuaded Maxine to cooperate with him, and the pair are also in Cape Town investigating at a bank that Dresham believes Seeger intends to rob. The assault of Randveld prison moves forward with Chapel's men executing Seeger's plan, buy they there are in for a surprise, as the jailbreak doesn't go down as expected. Meanwhile, Seeger's splinter group raids the bank, and after completing a number of financial transactions, manages to escape. The film concludes with the pursuit of Chapel, and the rescue of the hostages. Logic and realism isn't a major factor, but events still manage to play out without becoming a total mess.

Seagal looks a bit overweight, and his fight scenes aren't that impressive, but at least it appears that he is doing most of his own fighting, and camera tricks and editing are minimally employed to make him appear to move faster. The supporting cast is pretty good, particularly Jacqueline Lord, a smart and classy beauty, who can not only act, but also handles the action work well. As Chapel, Roger Guenveur Smith provides a low key kind of menace.

Seagal's films rarely have any extras, so the fifteen minute making of featurette on Mercenary For Justice is kind of a treat. There's some fluffy praise and admiration for Mr. Seagal and his flashy fists, and also some good dirt, like how some of the action scenes at the prison were shot. It's not much when compared to most other films, and Seagal speaks only briefly, but it's better than the goose egg that is usually found on Seagal's releases.

Although the complicated screenplay has a number of shaky spots, it manages to hold together without completely fragmenting, as the story actually displays some touches of style and finesse. The acting is above average for a Seagal film, helping to make Mercenary For Justice one of his more solid direct to video efforts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 24, 2009
Good movie I bought it used and shipping was great and the dvd was in great shape THANK YOU!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2011
Whether it be film or dtv, Steven Seagal continues to provide his fans what they want: Action, a moral where the good guy wins over the bad guy by beating him at his own game...namely fighting violence with violence.

This turned out to be a much better movie than I expected and I'll ditto much of the positive remarks made by others. But I do have one comment or complaint:

Steven.........use a different color dye on your hair!!!! It doesn't work bro......

That's it. Otherwise a good popcorn movie to be sure!!!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2006
I really loved his movies. Back when there was actually a budget of more than six figures. I have tried to stay a true fan, and have watched all his films. Now they are coming out every 60-90 days and they are trash. He is nothing but a ghost of his former self. Direction stinks, production quality stinks, plot stinks. I'm sad he can't get a film done in the US anymore, with a major studio. Where have all our action actors gone? They are all retired or making third rate direct to DVD trash like this. I'm finished. I can't take it anymore. I thought Submerged was it for me, but I kept coming back....hoping. Seagal has another movie coming out in a month or two (Romania again, ugh). It'll be the first I ever missed. Bye Steven, and good luck.
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on December 23, 2006
I don't expect much from straight-to-DVD films, but I know they could be sometimes better than our expectations. Steven Seagal's `Mercenary for Justice' begins with several pretty good actions which are trying to be tension-filled cross-fire battles of big-budget films like `Black Hawk Down.' Considering the budget that must be much lower than "BHD" (the film company is Millennium, well-known for its B-actions), the opening looks promising even though some characters act very stupidly and Steven Seagal himself looks the same old Seagal, too fat and slow.

It seems, however, the film spent most of the money in the first 30 minutes, where Steven Seagal appears as mercenary named John Seeger. This time we are not allowed to know his background, his career or his mission. He is sent to some small island where battles are going on between the rebels and the government, and French ambassador and his family are kidnapped (by Seeger's trigger-happy team). Some corrupt fraction of CIA is involved, but we are not to know why this bad guy is involved in the mission. Perhaps the filmmaker also didn't know it, either. Never mind, you can tell bad guys from good guys. Bad guys look very bad doing bad acting, and good buys look very good doing the same.

Anyway, some bad guy threatens Seeger to break in a jail in South Africa and free a rich drug lord's son. The situation is like, Do it, or we will kill your dead buddy's family we kidnapped. This is the only part you can find some reasonable plot in this dreadful mess. The rest of the film is about body counts that keep rising without meaning, or sloppy actions done by sloppy characters. The CIA guy can find a woman carrying cash in her brief case at airport by chance; Seagal's character can find the hideout of the kidnappers in a second, and he doesn't even ask anyone about it. Seeger can also hide in the backseat of a car, but how can you miss this plump guy in his conspicuous costume hiding in your car? Not only that, he can also vanish like wind!

I suspect that the story or script (if ever) was changed on the set. It looks as if they shot some action sequences first (with the principal actors), and abandoned other scenes that are on the script. But that's only my speculation. All I can be sure of is that Steven Seagal does his own stunts, showing his martial arts skills a little, well, just a little.

Cinematographer-turned director Don E. FauntLeRoy had worked together with Steven Seagal for `Today You Die' (as director) and `Into the Sun' (as cinematographer). Both films are poorly acted, shot, and edited, but things are getting worse. `Mercenary for Justice' is not his worst, but quite close to it.
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Early in his career, Steven Seagal gave us some great ("Out for Justice", "Above the Law", "Under Siege") films as well as some good ones ("Hard to Kill", "Marked for Death", "Dark Territory"), but as his career prospered and his weight grew, the quality of the films started to slip as did their box office appeal. Beginning in 2001, Seagal as a writer and producer made direct to video (DTV) films, usually cranking them out at a rate of 3 per year. "Mercenary for Justice" falls into this class.

Typical of Seagal's DTV films, you'll get very little of the Aikido that Seagal is known for. The film relies on lots of gun fire and the occasional fight which is edited so that you actually never see Seagal follow through. The editing is good, but Seagal fans are looking for the type of action from the early years, not slick editing.

"Mercenary for Justice" has a more confused plot than his other films, and the villains (Luke Gross, Roger Guenveur Smith) are less menacing than normal. The center piece of the film is a break-in of a fortified prison in South Africa, but the entire sequence is pretty lame.

The film is directed by Don FauntLeRoy who also directed Seagal in "Today You Die" (2005). The list of producers is enormous and includes Boaz Davidson ("Last Days of Frankie the Fly", "The Wicker Man", "88 Minutes", "The Expendables").

The production values are pretty good, and the camerawork in the beginning war scenes is excellent, but at the end of the day, the film is a big disappointment. Hard core Seagal fans (like me) may find some pleasure in the film, but for anyone else it is a waste of time.
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