Studio: Warner Bros.
US Rating: R - Strong Violence and Language, and Sensuality and Drug Use
Film Length: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Plus, French and Spanish 2.0
Subtitles: Optional English, French and Spanish Subtitles
The Film - out of
Detective Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) is a tough Brooklyn-born tough guy. He knows the streets, he knows the people and he knows the game. When his close friend, fellow officer Bobby Lupo, is gunned down in front of his wife and children, Felino is duty bound to bring his brand of justice to the killer.
Living in two worlds, the ‘badge and gun’ world of the police and the world of honor inherent in the ‘wise guy’ way of life, he must rely on his street savvy and high power aikido skills to bring justice to the Brooklyn streets. Things only get worse when he realizes the person he is seeking vengeance on is Richie Madano (William Forsythe), a boyhood friend and local crime boss.
Madano’s act has brought dishonor and shame to the den of thieves, the wise-guy crime families of Brooklyn and enraged the police force. Now, the race is on to see who will find the drug addicted killer first and bring him to justice.
Out for Justice is the kind of film that enjoyed huge success in the 80’s and early 90’s. Muscle-driven, testosterone fueled butt-kicking with just enough of a ‘family’ and ‘honor’ angle give it the appearance of ‘dramatic’ balance. Managing to create a good set of likeable and dislikable characters, Out for Justice takes no time getting into the action. With a brisk pace it snaps from danger to danger as Detective Felino searches for Madano in bars, dives and Madano’s own family, stirring up the hornets nest with plenty of wise talk, street insults and fast fists.
Steven Seagal has always been a curious creature; he doesn’t pack the inflated muscles of a Schwarzenegger or Stallone, the abs and looks of Mel Gibson from his Lethal Weapon days or even the relatable charm and everyman likeability of Kurt Russell. Yet he managed to achieve that action man status, appearing in a slew of thinly plotted action flicks with high body counts that most of us today can look back upon affectionately as a staple of those years. With no exception I can think of, none of the three word titled Seagal film, (Marked for Death, Hard to Kill, Above the Law, etc), had intelligence in any real form, acting worth a dime or notable set-pieces, yet as a body of work, they seem to be a pillar that era. An era that peaked with excessive and gratuitous ‘bullet and blood-fest’ action.
There was a real attempt by screenwriter David Lee Henry (Road House) to give Out for Justice a sense of reality with the many ‘stories’ told by Segal’s character and others about growing up in the neighborhood. A reasonable aim for what I am sure was pitched to the studio simply as an action vehicle. Even Director John Flynn (Lock Up) managed to capture the somewhat gritty and smoldering essence of Brooklyn well.
Out for Justice is a good example of the action films of those years. Replete with an endless supply of bullets and the dead bodies they make and the life of hookers, drugs and smoky bars that these characters live in.
Seagal is no actor, not by a long shot, but his style of martial arts and brooding Brooklyn bravado serve him well in the film. William Forsythe is good as the disturbed coke head killer, hellbent on living a grand last night filled with chaos, mayhem and all the vices known to man.
Jerry Orbach also makes a limited appearance as Felino’s partner, looking and sounding like an audition for his eventual 10 year run on NBC’s Law & Order. Oh, and you can also find the lovely Gina Gershon and Julianna Margulies in small roles.
There is good news and there is bad news with this transfer of the image, correctly framed at 1:85.1. The detail level is really very good, achieving a clarity perhaps never before seen a film that spent most of its life burning up the VCR’s of men across the world. But here is the problem - the transfer is dark, too dark. What should have been sharp looking exterior scenes are plagued with a shadow throughout the frame that appears as though the brightness was dialed way down. At first I believed my display needed calibrating, but after popping in a few other discs, it was clear that the problem was inherent to the transfer.
It is disappointing and at times distracting, but it doesn’t completely outweigh the clarity found in many of the films scenes.
Warner Bros. has again provided a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus audio. Gun shots, as you might imagine, punch through the subwoofer, the punches, kicks and pool cue cracks are loud and sound solid. When the film is in action mode, the speakers are active. Not perfect as there were some opportunities missed to envelope the viewer a little more, provide more depth in the sound field, but generally speaking, Warner Bros. has given us a very good audio track to go with this catalogue release.
Just one trailer - which is nice, but a shame that we couldn't have seen a retrospective, trailers for other Segal movies or even behind the scenes materials from way back when.
Original Theatrical trailer: Short and sweet and crammed with ‘movie trailer guy’ voice-over excitement, this was a fun trip back for me.
Even though Seagal has fallen far from the heights of his popularity, languishing in the direct-to-dvd realm carved out for other 80’s/90’s action heroes such as Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme, it doesn’t diminish our ability to enjoy his earlier flicks made for men the world over. Even the titles for some of his recent films aren’t quite right, sounding more like docu-drama’s for medical conditions such as jock-itch (Fire Down Below, for example). But, Out for Justice is still a good opportunity for you to sit back, pop open a six-pack with some take-out Chinese food and watch him knock bad-guys up, down and across the screen.