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Dark Vengeance
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by Jack Sommersby

"Another Steven Seagal Disposable"
2 stars

Neither action-packed enough to satisfy Seagal fans nor interestingly scripted enough to appeal to non-fanciers.

After years of lackluster direct-to-video efforts, Steven Seagal rebounded four years ago with the excellent Born to Raise Hell, but while his latest video release, Dark Vengeance, is decently made and acted, it's not exactly worth singing praises about. Seagal started out working with quality directors and good scripts in the enjoyable action pictures Marked for Death, Under Siege and Fire Down Below, but then lost his way with lazy, cheesy fare by the dubious likes of Kill Switch, Submerged and The Foreigner that never saw the light of day in American theatres. With Born to Raise Hell, which Seagal also wrote, the story and characters were unexpectedly solid and the action sensationally choreographed; he's co-written Dark Vengeance, which is mostly routine and unremarkable and whose action factor is disappointingly ho-hum. (Newly released on home video, it's a miasma of episodes of the Seagal-created True Justice television series.) A serial killer is operating in Seattle, targeting beautiful young women who work as exotic dancers. Each corpse is tied to a wire fence with a white flower in the mouth with evidence of a date-rape drug in the blood system; because of the weird postmortem condition of the bodies, there's talk of an ancient "black magic" element involved. Heading up the police investigation is Seagal's Elijah Kane and his crack team of detectives, two of whom are attractive women who go undercover in one of the clubs the latest victim worked at. (Because this is television, the women in the club merely dance rather than strip.) A few suspects are introduced, and by the forty-five-minute mark the culprit is found and killed off, so we know this can't be the end of things being that there's another forty-five remaining in the running time. A copycat-killer element is thrown into the mix, though the police-procedural details in this section aren't any more interesting than in the first (it's obvious these sections were aired separately and have been combined here to serve as a "movie"). There's absolutely nothing in the way of sustained atmosphere and tension, and the few-and-far-between action sequences are shot too close in and possess not the most lucid of spatial logistics. At the age of sixty-two, Seagal has at least rid himself of those hideously unruly long sideburns and actually participated in his fight scenes in a way where it at least looks like him most of the time as opposed to a very obvious body double. Still, Dark Vengeance is nothing more than stale boob-tube mediocrity.

I'll take the not-uninteresting "On Deadly Ground" (Seagal's directorial debut) over this.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=26546&reviewer=327
originally posted: 03/19/14 08:09:56
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USA
  N/A (NR)
  DVD: 01-Mar-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Keoni Waxman

Written by
  Steven Seagal
  Joe Halpin

Cast
  Steven Seagal
  Maghan Ory
  Warren Christie
  William Stewart
  Sarah Lind



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