Marked for Death (1990)
By: Devon B. on June 23, 2013 | Comments
20th Century Fox | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 93 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Dwight H. Little
Starring: Steven Seagal, Keith David, Joanna Pacula, Basil Wallace, Danny Trejo
Screenplay: Michael Grais, Mark Victor
Country: USA
External Links
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When I got a Blu-ray player, one of the first things I started to collect were action movies I used to love when I was in my early teens. I was eager to acquire some Steven Seagal, but was a bit worried about getting the local Blu of Marked for Death, better known as Steven Seagal is Marked for Death, because it had previously been censored here on DVD. Don't let the M rating worry you, this is the full strength movie. I'm not sure how it could possibly be rated M, but since I've got all the violence and nudity intact I don't mind if the studio put the wrong rating on it.

Steven Seagal is Marked for Death starts with Stevie chasing down and beating up Danny Trejo. This quickly establishes that his character is insanely tough. Despite the highly public chase, Stevie insists he and his partner still go through with an undercover operation. This doesn't go well for his partner, or indeed for the woman that shoots his partner because Stevie seems to empty a whole clip into her in retaliation. Stevie making a bad call is unusual, so for novelty value alone, Steven Segal is Marked for Death is doing well. Distraught over his situation, Stevie goes to a priest and confesses that he's become corrupt in order to catch criminals. Wanting to better himself, Stevie retires.

He goes to visit his family, and his niece is the girl from Last Boy Scout. This means she starred in movies with Stevie, Trejo and Bruce Willis… really, she should've been given a part in Expendables 2. And so should Al Leong! That guy used to be in every action movie. Anyway, Stevie also reconnects with his friend Keith David or David Keith, whichever one of them it is, but his happy reunion is marred when they spot a drug deal going down at the local high school. The drug sale scene plays with slightly more realism than Reefer Madness. Despite a few "It's not worth it" moments, Stevie is soon caught up in turf war shenanigans and gets himself and his family MARKED FOR DEATH by a Jamaican gang.

A lot of people would say Steve's first five movies are his best, but I always thought Steven Segal is Marked for Death was overrated. It just never sat right with me, and it used to leave me a bit bored. When I revisited the movie in HD, it all fell into place, and I was finally able to appreciate what an entertaining piece of nonsense it is. I think what probably lost me all those years ago is that it takes awhile to set up, but once it gets going it's a great, illogical, action movie. A lack of logic probably would've just annoyed me in my teens, but now I just laugh. I love the extremes Stevie goes through to ensure it's him dealing with the situation exclusively even while his family is in immediate peril. Another good laugh comes from the fact that two countries' customs officials appeared to overlook some rather conspicuous items. But the show stopping comedic moment is Stevie having to act anguished while visiting someone in the hospital. He was robbed at the Oscars. ROBBED!

Okay, so there's stuff to laugh at, but what makes the early Stevie movies so good is that there was some actual good stuff to go along with the nonsense, and there're some excellent elements in Steven Seagal is Marked for Death. Once the story gets going it presents one great action set piece after another, and unlike a lot of Stevie's movies it merges gunplay and aikido action well. The film also makes admirable attempts to explain (in multiple scenes) that most Jamaicans are good people, to the point that the message gets extremely heavy handed, but at least Stevie made sure the villains weren't just bad black men playing on people's xenophobic fears. Best of all, Basil Wallace as Screwface is the awesomest Stevie villain ever. He's menacing, unhinged and driven and his final moments on screen are the stuff of legend amongst Stevie fans…at least those that got to see the footage uncut.

Watch for Jimmy Cliff singing a song that seems to be outlining plot details.
The Disc
The film has some edge enhancement, a bit of grain and marcroblocking, but overall this is a nicely mastered presentation. At times it's even very striking, and it is by far the best Stevie Blu I've seen.

There are a few different audio tracks to choose from. There's a pretty well done 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and by well done I mean the bone breaks haven't been muted, but for purists the 2.0 mix is also included. Unfortunately, the 2.0 mix is just a standard track, not even DTS. This means the DTS-HD is by far the sharper and clearer choice. The Spanish mono sounded tinny to me, but the French 2.0 mix seemed similar to the English 2.0 mix, but perhaps with a little less depth.

Not a sausage in the extras, a state of being that probably should've been applied to Stevie's breakfasts for the last 10 years.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I wish Steven Seagal is Out for Justice looked this good. I got Steven Seagal is Marked for Death after Steven Seagal is Under Siege and Steven Seagal is Out for Justice, so was thrilled that more care was taken with this Blu. Because the release is barebones and the original audio mix isn't included in a lossless track there's room for improvement, but I was just happy I had a nice transfer of the film.
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