'Marked for Death' is fast, bloody, predictable


October 17, 1990|By Lou Cedrone

One of the best things about Steven Seagal's movies is that you know the bad guys are not going to get the best of the leading man. They may subdue him for a moment or two, but he doesn't subdue long. Captivity is not something Seagal's characters take to.

Seagal's newest movie is ''Marked for Death,'' and once more, the star is fast and lethal. When he isn't working with a high-powered, target-sensitive rifle, he is breaking bones and chopping off heads.

Actually, he crushes more bones than he breaks. Crushing makes more noise, and noise is one of the things a Seagal film offers.

The star's newest movie is like his others. It moves very fast and includes a lot of knife fighting and car chases. It also dulls in spots and is predictable in that we know the hero's relatives (his sister and her daughter in this case) are not going to be safe.

They are, in fact, brutalized, but then everyone is brutalized it this movie, one that takes place in Chicago and Jamaica but was actually filmed in Los Angeles. Some of the exteriors were done in Jamaica, but most of the film was done at home, where there are apparently enough black actors willing to play Jamaican heavies.

The bad guys wear copious dreadlocks and when they aren't selling drugs, are practicing voodoo. The leader is known as Screwface. He has blue eyes and speaks with a Jamaican accent, which may sound nice in television commercials but is almost totally incomprehensible here. The movie could use subtitles at times.

''Marked for Death'' is brutal. There is no getting around it, but Seagal fans don't really want to. They know what they are buying here, and whenever the hero crushes a bone or breaks a back (by breaking the body over his knee), the Seagal fans howl with delight. When they do, you wonder.

Seagal seems to be loosening a bit. His DEA agent shows affection by slapping and jabbing, and there are times when the star seems almost animated. As an actor, he has a way to go. At present, he makes Clint Eastwood look like Spencer Tracy, but he is improving, moving along.

''Marked for Death'' is showing at local theaters. Seagal has attracted an action audience, the kind Chuck Norris and other karate champs have had. They will be pleased. Others, looking for something less bloody, less brutal, are advised to see something else.

''Marked for Death''

** A DEA agent discovers that his home town, Chicago, has been taken over by a Jamaican drug king.

CAST: Steven Seagal, Joanna Pacula, Keith David

DIRECTOR: Dwight H. Little

RATING: R (violence, nudity)

RUNNING TIME 95 minutes

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