blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Hard to Kill (1990, Bruce Malmuth)

The best thing about Hard to Kill is how hard supporting player Frederick Coffin tries. He doesn’t have much of a part, but it’s got some soap opera dramatics to it and Coffin goes for it. There’s nothing to the script and there’s no support from director Malmuth, so Coffin flops. Quite literally skidding on pavement. But the trying is obvious and it shows a level of dedication no one else has about the film.

Except star Steven Seagal, as Hard to Kill is a commercial for the concept of Steven Seagal as a movie star. It’s a vanity project. Only director Malmuth stubbornly refuses to engage with that fact. Malmuth does a terrible job directing the film and its actors. It isn’t like Malmuth is trying to direct it differently either. He’s not trying to do some serious cop drama or even visceral action picture while Seagal’s strutting around, showing off real-life wife Kelly LeBrock as love interest–after doing a family values hard sell with some praying–no, Malmuth doesn’t do anything. He lets LeBrock embarrass herself (though he does what he can to protect Bonnie Burroughs as the other female character–there are really only two in Hard to Kill). He doesn’t do Seagal any favors.

Terrible William Sadler performance in one of the worst roles of the twentieth century. You just feel sorry for him, especially with what he eventually has to go through. He’s surrounded by a bunch of despicable cronies. Not a single decent performance among them. The bad guys in Police Academy movies are better written.

Hard to Kill isn’t even paced well; at ninety minutes, it drags all over the place. It’s a bad movie. It’s never going to be much better, but Malmuth could’ve at least let it be fun. Even worse, Malmuth’s direction doesn’t let anyone exhibit competence–his composition’s so bad, who cares how Matthew F. Leonetti lights the shot or how John F. Link edits the scene–though David Michael Frank’s awful score is awful all on its own.

The whole thing is just awful. Good exterior lighting from Leonetti though, I guess. Not at night, but during daylight scenes. He does okay.

The rest is still crap.

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