Hard to Kill (1990)
By: Devon B. on August 27, 2012  | 
Warner Bros. (USA) | Region Free | 1.77:1, 1880p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Bruce Malmuth
Starring: Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock, William Sadler, Frederick Coffin, Branscombe Richmond
Screenplay: Steven McKay
Country: USA
External Links
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When I bought a Blu-ray player, the first thing I did was start acquiring action movies that I used to love but hadn't watched in over a decade. One star whose oeuvre I wasn't sure about revisiting was Steven Seagal, but I still dipped into his catalogue and found some of the funniest movies of all time. The reason I was even curious about Stevie was because at the age of 12, he had wowed me in Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill. I now own a lot of Stevie's movies, but I suspect part of me was just trying to fill a void created because Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill wasn't available on Blu-ray. Finally the film has got the High Definition treatment, and I wasted no time in adding it to the collection. I'd been told the film hadn't aged well and my memory was playing tricks on me since I hadn't seen it for 20 years. My memory is just fucken fine.

The film starts with Stevie on stakeout documenting a dodgy deal, but then he gets made. He flees, but stops for a fight in a liquor store, a sequence that includes my favourite smug Stevie moment when he kneels down to taunt an opponent to attack him. Because Stevie was busy being awesome he misses out on some quality family time, and he's going to be very sad about that because the bad guys find out who he is and try to kill him and his family. His wife is the only family member that doesn't have the hard to kill DNA that Stevie and his son share, so she proves relatively easy to kill, but Stevie's son escapes and Stevie himself does die, but he comes right back to life. Perhaps the movie should've been called Steven Seagal is Quick to Recover instead?

Stevie's in a coma for seven years, kept safe by a friend who also hides Stevie's son. The friend clearly doesn't think to keep Stevie's facial hair in check, but I kinda like the scraggy Jesus look he's got immediately post-coma. While asleep Stevie seduces one of his nurses, but I don't think he had to do much because she appears to just be enchanted by his cock. Lucky she got to see his tool, though, because when he wakes up she has the perfect hideout for him to recuperate in. Stevie rebuilds his strength and aikido abilities, then sets out to find out if his adversaries are hard to kill, too.

They aren't.

I find it a laughable plot point now, but at 12 I was expecting muscle atrophy to be a bigger problem for Stevie, because really he just does a quick training montage and he's raring to go again. Stevie uses some acupuncture therapy that maybe helps explain his quick muscle regrowth, but the acupuncture also raises another question because Stevie appears to have applied a needle to his own back. Even accepting the idea that the magic of acupuncture made Stevie well physically, it does seem like he'd be more shook up about the loss of his wife. There's even a scene where Stevie is all excited because he's found out his son is alive, which you would think would draw attention to the fact that his wife isn't. How's he deal with this crushing reality? He honours her memory by hooking up with his ex-nurse. Fair enough, it's been seven years since his wife died, but he slept through that time, so for him it should seem like a relatively recent loss. Nope, Stevie is also Quick to Recover on the emotional front.

It wouldn't be a Stevie movie if there wasn't some absolute nonsense, and Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill delivers, however not as much as some of his later work. There's a nice, sappy speech explaining Stevie's aikido skills; a magic boot that teleports his possessions to a different vehicle; and a brilliantly tacky work-out-the-identity-of-the-lead-villain scene. There's also the post-coma attempt on Stevie's life that is handled by a completely incompetent assassin. The guy draws unnecessary attention to himself, appears to not understand his gun very well because he seems to unnecessarily chamber a round and he doesn't shoot Stevie when he has the chance. I know Stevie is meant to be hard to kill and all, but it seems like Stevie didn't entirely deserve that status because he did die, and the next major attempt on his life was fucked up by a git.

There's a lot of talk about the Oscars in the first part of the movie, which is set on Oscar night. I'd guess this was a hint to the Academy, especially since one character even says Stevie won the Oscar that night after his liquor store fight. Maybe Stevie was hoping to be nominated in the category of Best New Ponytail on an Up and Coming Action Star?

Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill may not be Stevie's most entertaining, but it's probably his best and sleekest in terms of story structure. Stevie's ego hasn't been given free reign yet (his character even gets punched at one point, which rarely happened later in Stevie's career), so the movie's not a total comedy. Instead, it's a good revenge flick that revealed a little more of the comedic gold that was yet to be mined.
There's a little macroblocking, crush and edge enhancement, as well as a few spots and specks, but the print is mostly clean. Grain is thankfully present, and the film looks good for a budget title from a star that's tarnished his name with Submerged. Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill is not the sharpest transfer, but detail is usually strong in close up, but can waiver a bit on wider shots. The look of the film does improve after the first act is over, since that all takes place at night which makes the proceedings darker. Once the movie gets the opportunity to move into daytime, the image is better. The HD print does reveal flaws in the makeup FX and makes it hard to miss the creeping baldness of the film's star.
The English audio is a 5.1 remix, which would be fine if the original audio was also included. Fortunately the bone breaks didn't seem toned down on this track as compared to the 2.0 and 1.0 dubbed tracks on the disc. The English track is lossless so it's much clearer than the dubs, and some directional touches have been added to the soundscape. These are usually gunfire related, and otherwise the track is fairly front heavy. The 2.0 dubs seemed similar to each other when I toggled through them, and honestly the Spanish 5.1 wasn't that different from the 2.0 and 1.0 mixes.
Extra Features
The Trailer!
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
While a few extras would've been nice, my only real gripe is the lack of a lossless audio track of the film's original sound mix. The film itself is one of Stevie's best, and his burgeoning unintentional comedic prowess is certainly on display. It wouldn't be long before the audience discovered his hidden skill, that it was more the laughter, not him, that was hard to kill.

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