Born To Raise Hell (2010)

Born To Raise Hell (2010)- * *

Directed by: Lauro Chartrand

Starring: Steven Seagal, Darren Shahlavi, and Dan Badarau

Our old buddy Seagal plays Robert “Bobby” Samuels, an agent for the “IDTF”, or International Drug Task Force, in Romania. When a psycho named Costel (Shahlavi) begins going around raping and killing people, not only does this upset Bobby, but it also tees off a criminal overlord named Dimitri (Badarau) whose toes Costel is stepping on. Despite initially being rivals because they’re on opposite sides of the law, Bobby and Dimitri enter into an uneasy alliance so they can both achieve their aim: stop Costel. Will they accomplish  their goal, or will they succumb to the depression of Eastern Europe? Dare you find out...?

In 1994, Motorhead, Ugly Kid Joe, and Ice-T all teamed up for the song “Born To Raise Hell”, which featured on the soundtrack to the movie Airheads, released that same year. Presumably they weren’t singing about Steven Seagal, but there are plenty of airheads in this run-of-the-mill latter-day Seagal DTV yawner. Perhaps Seagal himself is still bitter he wasn’t invited to perform on the track, as he is a musician, don’t’cha know. He’s really got the blues. One minute he wants to be an Asian Martial Artist, the next minute a Black bluesman, the next minute a Southern “Lawman”. Anyone but himself. Our working psychological theory for now is that Seagal is constantly running from his true self, which is why he constantly uses voice and body doubles as well. What he’s running from, we don’t know.  But he should run more often (we’ll try to keep the fat jokes to a minimum, but no promises).

As for the movie itself, it has that bleak Romanian DTV vibe regular viewers will recognize by now. To its credit, it doesn’t hide the fact that it was shot in the land of Vlad the Impaler and pretend it’s New York or something, but Seagal more closely resembles Count Chocula than anyone else more fearsome. Maybe his next movie will be a ghost story where he takes on the title role of Boo Berry. Born to Raise Hell just presents us with more depressing, soulless brutality served up as undemanding entertainment for less discerning viewers. Sure, it’s all tempered by the fact that we can now gauge the BMI of Seagal’s stuntman and Seagal himself is always shot with these bizarre shadows on his face, but none of this muck is really floating our boat as viewers. Seagal (or whoever is doing his ADR) is a bit more animated and less whispery this time around, but you’ll still need the subtitles on the DVD if you want any hope of knowing what people are saying.

It’s loaded with those quick-cut editing effects that are inexplicably used by moviemakers of the modern DTV era. Unless it’s all a conspiracy by LensCrafters and Pearle Vision Centers working behind the scenes with them so we all need glasses after watching a few DTV’s, there’s no reason for them to exist. They’re not cool, they’re just annoying. The same could be said for the dumb dialogue said in this movie, and what Seagal says is not tough-sounding, and doesn’t add to his image. It just makes him look like a cross between Eddie Munster and a walrus in an oversized leather coat. He ends most sentences with the words “boy” or “man”. Evidently he is judging how mature you look, which is just creepy.  After the second half of the movie, it just spins its wheels, nothing noteworthy happens and you’re mentally checked out and thinking about what you’re going to be eating for dinner that night. Not unlike...well, you get it.

While we appreciated the presence of fan favorite Shahlavi as the baddie, and perhaps the quick-and-silly fight/action scenes, we just thought it was typical crude oil from the Seagal spigot. Seagal fans may defend this one, as they are wont to do, but we just weren’t feeling it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddies, Cool Target and DTVC


Alien Warrior (1986)

Alien Warrior (1986)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Edward Hunt

Starring: Brett Baxter Clark, Reggie De Morton, and Pamela Saunders

Buddy (Clark) is an alien from another world. Imagine a cross between Tony Robbins, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, James Brolin, Jesus, and Superman. Buddy is sent by his father to earth to find and eliminate “great evil”. After looking around and asking people if they know where he can find great evil, he finds his niche in a skid row “reading room” where he puts his psychology skills to work. While simultaneously wooing the lovely Lora (Saunders), he also runs afoul of the personification of great evil - a pimp named Mr. One (De Morton). So while Buddy is transforming the mean streets of L.A. by turning gangbangers into devoted bookworms, Mr. One is trying to undo his handiwork - and he has a lot of cops and politicians right where he wants them. Naturally this leads to the ultimate showdown - will this ALIEN WARRIOR be the KING OF THE STREETS? (hey, I had to at least try to use both of the film’s titles).

Alien Warrior (we prefer the alternate title of King of the Streets, as it’s more in keeping with the tone of our site) is an 80’s gem that is well worth seeking out. Its sheer ridiculousness never fails to totally entertain. While it might not be quite at the level of a Miami Connection (1987), Samurai Cop (1991), Geteven (1993), or Deadly Prey (1987), it’s damn close. Think of it as a second-round draft pick if they were forming teams of absurd, silly movies that you just have to love.

The movie seems to be the end result of someone musing, “Man, I love that Paul Kersey character from Death Wish. You know the one thing that would make Paul Kersey better? If he was an ALIEN.” And that’s the good news - don’t be scared off by any supposed “sci-fi” overtones, as there is minimal sci-fi.  What you do get are not one but two wacky alleyway fights, a bunch of blow-ups, shooting, racism, and adult sleaziness blithely mixed with childlike good-natured comedy.  There are plenty of genuine laugh out loud moments, but we’re not sure if they were intentional. But it doesn’t matter. Alien Warrior is 80’s video store fun at its best.

Brett Baxter Clark seemingly gives his all to the role, and perhaps delivers the performance of his career - though to be fair we haven’t seen every movie of his, of course, but this towers over his roles in Delta Force Commando (1988) and even Shootfighter II (1995). It seems Clark really was on board with this bizarre mix of pop psychology, community improvement, and senseless violence. Let’s not forget that he transports himself to earth using the power of his naked chest, and when he uses his healing powers to help a girl dying in the hospital, he implores her to “feel my beard”. We don’t think it’s a spoiler to indicate that she makes a full recovery.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the nonsensical pleasures Alien Warrior will provide for you if you give it a chance. We’d list more to entice you, but we don’t want to spoil it for you.

In the end, Alien Warrior will appeal most to 80’s fans (there are arcades, breakdancing, and synths on the soundtrack), and people with a taste for the silly and absurd. As of this writing there is no DVD or Blu-Ray release, but there really should be. See it if you can.  

Comeuppance Review by: Brett