[box cover]

Out for a Kill

Oh, how the mighty have fallen… and eaten! Having waged a career-long war against his ever-fluctuating weight, Steven Seagal has finally run up the white flag and given into his appetite with an admirably Brando-esque gobbling gusto, thus freeing him up to declare hostilities against his newfound enemy, the shower. Yes, in Out for a Kill, Seagal's latest direct-to-video back-alley mugging of his dwindling legion of fans, the Aikido master looks filthy; his hair is greasy, his skin mottled, and his clothes wrinkled and slept-in. The script's in a similar state of disrepair; it's an incoherent revenge yarn about an archaeologist, Travis Burns (Seagal, of course), framed for drug trafficking and the murder of his assistant after discovering that the Chinese mafia — referred to in the film as "The Tong" — had planned to smuggle narcotics in ancient relics from one of his digs. After some legal wrangling, he's released from a Chinese prison where he's made fast friends with a black prisoner who seemed destined for a bigger part in the film before the producers realized he wasn't a platinum-selling hip-hop star. Back in the States, the Tong sends out some of the world's clumsiest assassins to off Burns. They really ask for it, too, by accosting him while he's paying respects to his deceased assistant and, most unconscionably, while he's eating. Eventually, the Tong decides to give their nemesis a stronger through-line, so they end up killing his wife. At this point, Burns is pretty cheesed, so he decides to go looking for the culprit named Sai Lo who's responsible for incinerating his wife. Along the way, he teams up with the joint Hong Kong-United States DEA team (Michelle Goh and Corey Johnson) that's been trailing him since his release from prison, and they chase these bastards all over creation from New York City to Bulgaria and, eventually, to Paris. Occasionally, the labyrinthine plot of Out for a Kill pauses long enough for Seagal to get in a punch-up with some Tong-hired toughs, which is where things get really painful. It's bad enough that Seagal looks winded simply hitting his marks; watching him sleepwalk through poorly choreographed fight sequences as he attempts to hide his protruding gut via slimming garb like a zipped-up leather trench coat, or a billowy shirt, you almost feel embarrassed for the guy. Throughout the film, Seagal looks disgraced to even be in front of the cameras; he mumbles his lines, refuses to look his fellow actors in the eye, and, most tellingly, couldn't even be bothered to record his own ADR work in post, forcing the filmmakers for whatever reason to hire a sound-alike to handle transitional and otherwise unsalvageable dialogue. Taking into account the reuse of certain locations, and the fact that yellow subtitles are frequently pressed into service as title cards, it looks as though the production ran out of money. How they secured a budget in the first place might be a matter known only to Seagal and his tax attorney. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment presents Out for a Kill in an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras are limited to a few theatrical trailers. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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