Exit Wounds (2001)
By: Devon B. on March 30, 2014 | Comments
Warner Bros. | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 97 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Michael Jai White, Bill Duke, Jill Hennessy
Screenplay: Ed Horowitz, Richard D'Ovidio
Country: USA
I've seen most of Steven Seagal's films, but that wasn't the case earlier this year. One of my first forays into the unknown elements of Stevie's catalogue was Exit Wounds. I'd been hearing how low quality some of his direct to video work was, so I was bracing myself for a train wreck. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Exit Wounds was a theatrical release, with good production values and a supporting cast that could act a bit. Admittedly the dodgy ADR was popping up, but it wasn't anywhere near the levels it would hit. Expecting a movie like Against the Dark probably lowered my defences, but I had a good time with Exit Wounds.

In the film Stevie is a cop who plays by his own rules, and he singlehandedly stops an assassination attempt on the Vice President. Stevie uses his shoot a chopper till it blows up trick that he also demonstrates in Shadow Man, which I guess is slightly more realistic than taking a helicopter down with a rock like Sylvester Stallone did in First Blood, but not so realistic that it could be expected to happen within the parameters or our universe. For his Vice President saving troubles, Stevie is transferred to a new precinct, and it's a tough place to work. When he arrives his new commanding officer sends to anger management with Tom Arnold, which I would think would be counterintuitive because what could be more maddening than spending time with Tom Arnold? She must not have known he was enrolled too. Stevie isn't on his new patch for very long before he sets his sights on DMX, a guy who is clearly up to something, but isn't easy to get the better of.

Giving credit where it's due, I have to admit that Exit Wounds had a plot twist that I did not see coming. Like the rest of the movie it's farfetched nonsense, but it was unexpected farfetched nonsense. The film is firmly an action comedy, and is far more playful than most of Stevie's other movies. Sometimes the humour is overbearing, but even Stevie has some funny lines. I'm not talking about his quips he throws out during a fight; Stevie is given some actual comedy to perform and he successfully sets up and delivers gags. That was even more impressive to me than his fights.

Stevie still has some moves to showcase at this point, but the fights are a bit more flashy than the brutal aikido of his first few films. Despite his girth starting to expand, Stevie performs some of his most gravity defying choreography ever, probably because he'd been watching a lot of wuxia movies and realised he could use wires too. He may have also been watching some Jackie Chan films, because he borrows Chan's oft-used trick of facing stronger opponents that are immune to his attacks. Having Stevie be at a disadvantage in a fight is a rare treat, and helps set the skirmishes in Exit Wounds apart from Stevie's other movies. Michael Jai White is also on hand, and, while his acting isn't very subtle, I was suitably wowed by his martial arts skills. His final fight is pretty cool, and White's performance here lead me to the spectacular Black Dynamite. Exit Wounds is not brimming with martial arts, but it tries to make up for that with gunfire and explosions, so at least there's a fair amount of action.

The movie marks a definite turning point for two reasons. The first is that it was Stevie's last huzzah on the big screen, in the sense that it was his last good theatrical release. He would follow it up with the disappointing Half Past Dead which would banish him for nearly a decade to DTV, and even then his return to the big screen was as a support player in Machete. But the far more important transition for Stevie's fans is that his hair is starting to become the rug of ages we've come to love. DMX has said Stevie had spray on hair, and while his fake hair is hard to miss at times, it's not quite as obvious in Exit Wounds as it is in, say, everything since.

Exit Wounds is a bit shonky and tries too hard to be funny at times, but it's entertaining and the quality of the film is so much better than what would follow it's hard not to appreciate it all the more.

The Disc
Aside from a few spots and a little trailing the film looks clear and clean. There is a little bit of edge enhancement, but overall this is a fine transfer. The 5.1 mix is not bad. Cars and bikes go past, bullets fly and explosions explode. I never had trouble understanding the dialogue, which is always a bit of coup in a Stevie movie since he's so prone to mumbling. The soundtrack is very rap heavy, which can be either a plus or minus depending on the viewer.

The DVD comes with filmographies for select cast and crew members, a making of, DMX's video clip for "No Sunshine," the trailer and a short featurette following Anthony Anderson on a day's filming. The making of runs nearly 20 minutes, and interviews most of the key people. It covers DMX's believability in his role, and one of Stevie's co-stars explains that what sets this movie apart is Stevie knows how to laugh at himself in this one. I think that's a fair point.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Fast paced and appealing nonsense with some good action, Exit Wounds would be Stevie's last well made movie for a few years. As the end of the quality theatrical movie era, it should be respected, and as the beginning of the funky hairpiece era, it should be revered.
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