Out for Justice (1991)
By: Devon B. on July 14, 2013 | Comments
Warner Bros | Region Free | 2.40:1, 1080p | English DD 5.1 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: John Flynn
Starring: Steven Seagal, William Forsythe, Jerry Orbach, Jo Champa, Gina Gershon
Screenplay: David Lee Henry
Country: USA
External Links
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Out for Justice is the ultimate "Steven Seagal is" movie. The title cards practically say "Steven Seagal is Out for Justice" and the cover actually does say it. Stevie is so out for justice that he isn't only out for justice on behalf of himself, he also wants justice for a hooker being undeservedly beaten by her pimp, so much so that he blows a $3 million bust to stop the dispute. Presumably this enables other criminals to get away, so that part's not justice, but Stevie's handling of the pimp is the best opening to Stevie movie ever, and features the best title card of all time.

The plot is so simple it can be summarised in one sentence. Stevie hunts down William Forsythe for killing his friend. Also he's after a guy that threw away a puppy. Okay, two sentences. Forsythe is a crazy crack head that essentially tricks his entourage into sticking with him as he goes super mental. He kills a cop in broad daylight in front of the cop's family and several other witnesses. This draw's him into Stevie's sights, and everyone, the police, the mafia, the victim's family, even the villain, all accept that Stevie will got out for justice in his own particular idiom. Only those with super strong wrists should even attempt to stand in his way. Stevie also has to reconcile his marriage and find that darn puppy guy…

You know that myth that Inuits have 100 different words for snow? Well, Steven Seagal is Out for Justice is a reason English speakers should invent more words for "awesome." There's simply no other way to describe this movie, but it's awesome on so many levels and in so many ways that one word could never do it justice, and given what we see happening in the movie to those that are unjust, I want to play it safe and do right by it. This is a perfect storm of a movie. Stevie had gotten enough control that he was mostly getting his way, so there's a lot of unintentional humour, but there're a lot of genuinely good elements, too. Even the film's flaws are part of its charm so they quit being flaws.

Stevie, apparently now an Italian New Yorker, is a cop with strong mafia ties that's prone to preaching at other characters. His fashion sense may have been the style at the time, but I don't recall too many people walking around in the early 90s in a vest with no undershirt topped off with a beret. The film is like one massive ego stroke for Stevie where he plays his ultimate infallible character. He's the best at knowing things; best at getting things done; best at fighting; best at shooting off legs; best at apologising to belittled parents; best at driving; best at everything, really. He's also the best at having random encounters where someone throws away a puppy. Stevie is really upset by this "tough guy" and his treatment of animals, but then Stevie appears to leave the puppy in the car most of the day without food or water, which isn't exactly something the RSPCA would approve of. Actually, Stevie disproves of tough guys in general, which is odd for someone that essentially bullies everyone to get his own way. Maybe he only likes tough guys that can throw pimps through windows? Or maybe it's a Hamlet and the grave digger situation where the other tough guys' behaviour annoys him despite the fact that he exhibits the same traits? Regardless, it's a bit odd, but then the movie's about a cocky jerk who cares about impoverished kids and puppies, so it's not average, everyday fare to start with.

The movie is a bit crazy, but it has so much legitimately cool stuff that if you take your Stevie serious it's easy to overlook the more idiotic elements. I had gotten used to older, heavier Stevie, so was taken aback when I revisited Steven Seagal is Out for Justice. He's much thinner, his hair is real, and there's intentional humour that sometimes works. The really important thing, though, is the action is fantastic and there's a lot of it. The violence gets absolutely glorious as Stevie dispatches all that foolishly stand in his way. He aikidos a whole goddamn bar at one point, which has got to be some sort of record. The fights are often brutal, with realistic consequences like lost teeth, and there are so many standout moments it would almost be like relaying the whole movie to list them all. The theme song that plays at the end credits and is co-written by Stevie says the character doesn't care to fight, which is weird since that's almost all he does. I wonder if it was written for a different movie but just got tacked on to Steven Seagal is Out for Justice because it was ready to go?

My connection to Hamlet maybe wasn't so far off. Shakespeare was popular because he appealed to both the average people and the hoity-toities, and Steven Seagal is Out for Justice works like that. If you want spectacular action set pieces, you've got them, and if you want to make fun of it, there's a lot to mock, so it appeals to both the high and lowbrow audience members. It is beyond reproach.

John Leguizamo has a very small (few seconds) roll, which confused me since he got in trouble with Stevie on the set of Executive Decision. I wondered why he didn't know not to laugh at Stevie if he'd already worked with him. In rewatching Steven Seagal is Out for Justice I finally spotted Leguizamo in the film, and his scene is with Forsythe, so he may not even have been on set with Stevie. That's one mystery solved.
The Disc
The film is too dark in some scenes which leads to black crush. The movie is meant to be gritty, so the darkness may be intentional, but in some scenes the transfer doesn't handle the darker colours well. Others, it does fine, so the print is a bit uneven. There's a bit of edge enhancement, and a few specks, but overall it's not bad and at times it looks great. A remaster wouldn't hurt, but the video is usually adequate, unlike the audio. There're three audio options on the Blu-ray, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and French and Spanish 2.0 mixes. Don't be fooled because the English track has the highest bit rate, as it's the worst of the three. Firstly, it's annoying that none of these tracks are even DTS, so they're DVD quality. Secondly, why isn't the original English mix included? The 5.1 track has finessed the sounds FX to give them subtly, but this movie ain't about subtly so the track is pretty shit. The bone breaks are loud in the 2.0 mixes, but quiet and restrained in the 5.1. When Stevie breaks a bone in a movie, I wanna hear it,for fuck's sake! It's a shame because if the Blu-ray had come with even a generic DTS 2.0 English track I probably would've been pretty happy with this release. A trailer is the only extra feature on offer.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Awesomely badass, awesomely ridiculous, awesomely violent, awesomely pompous and awesomely entertaining, Steven Seagal is Out for Justice is awesomeness incarnate. It's a shame the Blu-ray leaves a lot of room for improvement, because this could've been the most awesome release ever.
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