Today You Die (2005)
By: Devon B. on April 20, 2014 | Comments
Kinowelt | Region B | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Don E. Fauntleroy
Starring: Steven Seagal, Treach, Kevin Tighe, Mari Morrow
Screenplay: Kevin Moore
Country: USA
Today You Die is definitely not a "Steven Seagal is" movie. Firstly, Steven Seagal is Today You Die don't make no sense grammar like. Secondly, how likely is it that a character is going to be able to say to Stevie, "Today you die!"? Not very, given so far the only person that's been capable of killing Steven Seagal in a movie is in fact Steven Seagal. The title actually springs from a rather awkward line said by co-star Treach before popping a bad guy. It seems a bit odd to name a movie after this rather minor happening, but if the oddest thing about a Stevie movie were the title it wouldn't be a Stevie movie. No, as usual for a direct to video Stevie flick, the oddest thing is Stevie's hair, which looks so unrealistic now that when he's in profile he could be mistaken for a Thunderbird. I would've thought that would make him harder to double, but it appears that the director wasn't too fussed about fooling the audience it was always Stevie on screen anyway, so that's a moot point.

In Today You Die, Stevie's partner is psychic and has a dream about a tarot reading. Now, that's premonition. Stevie is also psychic, because he knows to be sitting up awake next to her to save time when she wakes up. Stevie is some sort of modern Robin Hood, but he heeds his partner's psychic advice and tries to go legit. Unfortunately he takes a job at a dodgy security company and on his first job his co-worker steals $20 million. It's an odd crime, so much so that it competes with Stevie's hair for the claim to oddest thing about the movie. The money was already being loaded on to the security company truck, and they were ready to drive away with no one the wiser. Instead of taking the easy way, Stevie's co-worker shoots some other guards and then hijacks Stevie to make him an accomplice. Why didn't he just wait a few minutes after they'd driven off? Is it to show that he's a cold blooded asshole? Maybe, but he turns out to be a rather incidental character so there's not much point to that. Maybe he's just an idiot of Homer Simpson proportions.

Things probably wouldn't have gone smoothly even if the guy wasn't such an idiot, as the cops are right on to them, making it seem like a set up. This leads to a car chase that's the best bit of action in the movie with explosions, flips and other vehicular mayhem. Stevie gets away and hides the money, but is caught and sent to gaol. Stevie is allowed to wear a baggy coat while in prison to hide his gut, and I think it's nice the penal system cared so much about his self-esteem they let him break the dress code. While in gaol Stevie meets Treach, , who at least is no longer living in the slums with bums if he's locked up. Treach likes Stevie for some reason, maybe because of his unique fashion style. 'Cause he's needy with the heebie-jeebies when he's broke, Treach helps Stevie to break out in a very conspicuous way hoping to get some of the loot Stevie stashed before being arrested, but Stevie is more focused on revenge.

For all intents and purposes, Today You Die is a buddy movie, with Treach remaining very tolerant of Stevie's seemingly improvised "jokes." He must be afraid of stepping on other people's punchlines. Treach's character is also more tolerant than you'd expect from a fella in his situation, so maybe he's a method actor and it helped his performance. The only person that appears to be amused with Stevie's humour is Stevie, who clearly thinks he's hilarious. Laughter can be infectious, but that trick didn't work on me here and the jokes just felt weird.

I suspect some significant scenes have been cut from the film, as there are plot threads that lead nowhere, characters that seem like they should be important but aren't and a bunch of things that don't make sense. One character trying to follow the situation even says that none of it makes any sense, so if the people involved in the story can't work it out, how is the viewer meant to? There is some magic alluded to but it doesn't really pay off so something must be missing there. The only thing really left is Stevie's psychic partner and a knife that can make a sound like it's being unsheathed while it's just being held in the air. The movie makes it clear the partner is genuinely psychic and not a nutter, but the clincher for me was when she gets a phone call from Stevie who says "It's me." but it doesn't sound like his voice. If she knew who he was, she must be psychic, or have a copy of the script. I wouldn't have minded having a copy of the script, too, to try to make sense of the proceedings. The production values shift around a bit, like the vehicular mayhem in the beginning is well done, but then other scenes are marred by tacky green screen FX. There're a few rare treats for Stevie fans – he gets so exhausted he faints AND he's the butt of a few jokes, including one outright dis that makes Stevie's character seem like he's not as hip as he thinks he is.

There's not as much hand to hand combat as I'd like. I'm a sucker for Stevie's shotgun-fu trick that he pulls early in the movie (I also liked it in Driven to Kill), but then he turns into some other guy for most of the fighting in the scene. The fight isn't too bad, but it lacks the humour element that can happen when Stevie is poorly doubled. Stevie also commits what I would call a martial arts sacrilege when he pulls an Indiana Jones on one opponent. That's not funny! That joke has been done, and who the fuck watches martial arts movies to see that shit? Some comedy does seep into the fights, eventually, like a fantastic chandelier attack and a few scenes that show Stevie is so powerful he doesn't even need to connect with his blows. He just hits the air in front of his adversaries and it knocks them out. Must be some sort of sonic boom thing happening as his fist goes by…Hitting empty airspace isn't the only thing Stevie does well in Today You Die, he also mumbles something fierce. Stevie was never one for talking loudly, but here he's so bad the movie might as well have been called Mumbling For Vengeance. At least that would work as a "Steven Seagal is" title.

It's a bit of a mess, but I didn't mind Today You Die. I'm probably a bit over generous because I'm a Naughty by Nature fan from way back, their debut being one of the few rap records I still own, but with a movie this dumb the fun is somewhat infectious even if Stevie's laughter wasn't.
The Disc
I don't think this movie has been released on Blu-ray anywhere but Germany so I was braced for a dodgy transfer like Bear, but was pleasantly surprised. While the print has some specks, this is a really solid presentation for a DTV movie. There's a bit of black crush, some macroblocking, and haze in one chopper shot, but overall it's a decent transfer. It's not a reference disc by any means, as the transfer's a little uneven, but sometimes it looks really good. Way better than expected.

Audio is available in English or German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. The German track is actually better because Mr Mumble is dubbed all the way through by someone who was speaking clearly. Otherwise, the audio seemed similar between the two. On the English track Mr Mumble is a problem. There're jumps in volume because you got to have it cranked to make out what Stevie's saying, then when stuff blows up it's real loud. The sound effects, like shots echoing in a car park, a ride in a chopper and cars blowing up are all well done. It's too uneven to be a reference track, but it's fine aside from Stevie.

German language trailers for The Crew, Streets of Blood and Righteous Kill play on startup. If that wasn't enough trailers for you, never fear because you'll get the option of watching more German language trailers for Edison, My Bloody Valentine, Terminator 2 (which is voiced over in German but Arnie speaks English), The Wrestler, Kill Switch, The Strangers and Saw V. Of more note, particularly for English speakers, is a 15 minute making of which is mostly pap and a photo gallery. The cover is also reversible, for those that don't like giant ratings on their slicks. It's not really an extra, but I thought it was funny that on the disc there is a photo that doesn't try to hide Stevie's weight. It's like, they try to fool you on the front cover, but once you've bought and opened it you see the truth.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I don't think Today You Die would be a great movie by anyone's standards, but for those fascinated with the bizarreness of Stevie's DTV work it is compelling. The Blu-ray is good quality, and since I don't regard trailers as extras, all the real extra features can be enjoyed by English speakers. The audio is a bit frustrating, but I would imagine that's source element issues given the German dub is fine, so I don't blame this transfer.
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