A Movie A Day #214: Urban Justice (2007, directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy)

Steven Seagal returns and this time, he’s out for justice!  Urban justice!

After his son, a beloved Los Angeles cop, is assassinated, Simon Ballister (Seagal, of course) comes out of retirement to get revenge.  Retirement from what?  Like most of Seagal’s characters, Simon has a deadly and legendary past.  Nearly everyone who meets him says something like, “So, you’re Simon.”  Everyone wants Simon Ballister to do something for them.  El Chivo (Danny Trejo!) wants Simon to help defeat his rival, Armand Tucker (Eddie Griffin).  Armand Tucker wants to be Scarface.  Simon just wants revenge.

Much like Elvis, Steven Seagal’s career can be divided into a thin and a fat period.  Thin Steven Seagal was all over movie screens in the 90s, making up for the fact that he could not act by convincingly beating people up.  Fat Steven Seagal appears almost exclusively in direct-to-video productions.  He does everything that Thin Seagal did but he sweats a lot more while doing it.  Unfortunately, Fat Seagal is an even worse actor than Thin Seagal.  Since Fat Seagal produces almost all of his own films, there is no one around to say, “Let’s cut away from Steve during this speech, he looks stupid.”

Urban Justice is peak Fat Seagal.  It actually features more fights than the typical Fat Seagal movie but they are all edited in such a way that it is obvious that most of the blows were delivered by a stuntman while Seagal undoubtedly stood in a corner, trying to catch his breath. Since Urban Justice features Seagal in what is supposed to be the ghetto, he calls everyone that he meets, “motherfucker.”  Fat Seagal has the same Clint Eastwood-style rasp that he had when he was Thin Seagal but he still sound stupid whenever he says, “I want the motherfucker who killed my son.”

Eddie Griffin is pretty good as Armand Tucker.  I don’t know if Eddie improvised all of his dialogue but it certainly seems like he did.  All of the movie’s best lines belong to Eddie Griffin.  Just one example: “Man, fuck Santa Claus!  He never gave me shit!  That’s why I sell dope!”  As for Danny Trejo, he doesn’t do much but he’s Danny Trejo.

Personally, looking over the career of Steven Seagal, I think he made a mistake by trying to be an action hero.  It is hard to think of any other actor with as unlikable a screen presence as Steven Seagal.  If Steve had made his career playing villains, he would probably still have a good career going.  People would gladly play money to see Steven Seagal get blown up at the end of a Jason Bourne sequel.  Instead, he insisted on playing the hero and his career is now made up of appearing in direct-to-video movies and threatening to run for governor of Arizona.

To quote Clint Eastwood, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

Music Video of the Day: The Tide Is High by Blondie (1980, dir. Hart Perry)

Thank you, Lisa!

Since she did a song by Blondie yesterday, it gave me the idea to do The Tide Is High seeing as it’s kinda weird. It turns out, there are at least three versions of this video–each one different enough to merit a separate post. Yay! Ugh.

This is the first version of The Tide Is High. If you poke around online, then you’ll usually run into this one, with slight variations of the ending.

We start off the video by panning across the boys in the band as they look up, wondering what is taking Debbie so long.

Cut to Debbie’s place, and we see fish filing up her windows. And by fish I mean as close to showing sperm as they could get.

After we see that some of the “water” is leaking into the room, watch Debbie look out a window, and sing to the camera, we cut to a horny Darth Vader watching Debbie.

More of the “water” leaks into the room, so Debbie very precisely squats down and pulls a towel off what looks like a radio.

Debbie then proceeds to mop up some of the “water”, and then ring it right back out onto the floor. I get the feeling that isn’t a blonde joke.

Meanwhile, the guys are outside standing like they are at a urinal.

Horny Vader continues to look at Debbie in a variety of ways, such as the one below.

Debbie does eventually come downstairs so that the band can get into a car, and she can sing out the window.

When she’s done, we are treated to some people…

who had no idea they would end up in video where the audience is meant to think they are looking at a penis.

The phallic object takes off, and after separation, they all go through a brick wall. Just go with it.

Then it cuts to four women in blonde wigs, wearing swimsuits, while carrying a half-naked man. Sure.

Now Debbie taps Horny Vader on the shoulder. He turns around to reveal he’s some sort of combination of Vader and a Cylon?

Debbie seems to have no problem with this turn of events.

This is were you’ll get slight variations. This version does continue a little longer by cutting back to the girls and the half-naked guy.

Once in a while, I came across a version that would not cut back to the five whatevers, but instead go to the following shot where some people run towards the camera.

I’ve included that version below. I don’t know if that was intentional, censoring, or just that during that particular airing they cut the video short, and we are seeing something else for a few seconds. My bet is on censoring.

There are versions that just fade to black while Debbie dances.

If you think I was jumping to conclusions about the sexual stuff–I wasn’t. One of the other versions is more explicit in that area.