* * *
Directed by: Don E. FauntLeRoy
Starring: Steven Seagal, Eddie Griffin, Jade Yorker, and Danny Trejo
"When Revenge is personal, justice can be brutal."
Simon Ballister (Seagal) is distraught since the shooting death of his son. His son was a cop in the ‘hood, so naturally, Ballister goes to said ‘hood and rents a downtrodden apartment so he can live amongst the urban folk, aka racial and ethnic minorities. He then proceeds to do more damage to Blacks and Latinos than any racist skinhead could ever dream to. In his quest for revenge, he discovers that crime lord/drug dealer/Scarface (1983) enthusiast (duh), Armand Tucker (Griffin) might be the key. After seeking help from his buddy Chivo (Trejo), Ballister goes after Tucker in a no-holds-barred quest for URBAN JUSTICE.
This Seagal outing was a lot of fun. Make sure you watch it in a group like we did for best results. You know when the cynical Seagal is playing the Urban Cowboy and speaking in “Ebonics” that you’re in for a raucous good time. For the movie as a whole, try to imagine a poor man’s Dark Blue (2002) or Street Kings (2008). Trying to capitalize on those great James Ellroy-penned tales but with Seagal in the lead is a guarantee for pure silliness, and Urban Justice doesn’t disappoint in that department.
And while Jade Yorker deserves special merit as Gary in this film, despite what you think of Seagal, and despite what you think of Urban Justice in particular, Eddie Griffin rules this movie. He has a lot of energy and funny dialogue, and he seems to be giving his all. So top marks go to Mr. Griffin, whose performance acts as a motor that propels the whole movie along.
By comparison, the sluggish Seagal is mainly dead weight (write your own joke). The movie could have used much more Danny Trejo as well, as his screen time is pretty limited. He and Seagal don’t even fight, they just talk for a few minutes. A definite wasted opportunity there.
On the technical side, the squibs used in the gunshot scenes are pretty over the top...but then again, we’ve never seen someone be shot in real life, so for all we know, it could look like an entire pitcher of Kool-aid explodes out of your back. We just don’t know. We’re trusting director FauntLeRoy for our ballistic information here. Mainly because we only trust people with three capital letters in their last name.
Plus there are way too many extreme close-ups of Seagal’s face here. Not just close-ups. EXTREME close-ups where his giant mug fills the entirety of your screen. Whether he demands this, or FauntLeRoy thinks it’s integral to the storytelling, we don’t know. But the natural human instinct is to yell “too close! Too close!” Honestly, no one needs to get that close to Seagal.
So if you’ve ever wanted to see Steven Seagal in the ghet-to (to use the Bill Cosby pronunciation) and communicating with his fellow homies on “their level” (predating Steven Seagal: Lawman), this is the movie for you.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett
Also check out write-ups by our buddies, DTVC and The Video Vacuum!