Friday, 15 July 2011

Shadow Man - review part 1

Whilst desperately putting off watching Generation X (I will get to it, I swear) I asked the advice of fellow British person, Film Brain (aka Matthew Buck) of Bad Movie Beatdown, via twitter, for a bad movie to watch.  He gave me two words, Shadow Man. 

Warning this is a spoiler based review


I then asked my girlfriend to do the appropriate Netflix thing on my laptop and we watched Warehouse 13 while it downloaded.  It wasn't actually until I sat down, opened a new post and did a quick google image search for 'Shadow Man' that I discovered this was a Steven Seagal movie.

Oh Lord.

Steven Seagal actually scares me, I saw him shoot the heads off those cue-tips on his reality show, so if you're reading this, Mr Seagal, please don't kill me, your pony tail is cool....

We open on some sweeping shots of security cameras and science men doing sciencey things involving some kind of science, there's lab rats and a big eye dropper and close ups of a man's hand typing so I can only assume that it's some sort of important super secret science and those rats may turn into the Hulk.  Meanwhile there's a worried looking bloke running somewhere and looking all around him, while being stalked by both a silver car and phoned in dramatic music.

I feel rather stupid for a moment as I realise the rats are actually hamsters, but they look a bit dead now so it doesn't really matter. 


This yellow flashy effect thing, this keeps happening, not even on just angle or scene changes, the bloke is just bending over to put a stylus in his sock for some reason and it's happening then.  It's really, really annoying.

We now see Steven Seagal lecturing a bunch of Asian kids about chi and what not, I'm trying not to let the shakey camera work annoy me too much as Seagal randomly sends one of the kids flying and you have to wonder if he knew it was coming or not.  Then he punches someone elses watermelon and it falls apart from the inside, I know that sounds like I'm taking the piss, but this is Steven Seagal and I'm now imagining him doing this to my internal organs - eep.

According to the credits Imelda Staunton's in this, she must have been a bit hard up at the time.  One of the students asks him to teach him how to do that to the watermelon, Seagal punches him through a wall.  I'm so glad that Steven Seagal was not my maths teacher right now.  Seagals body and voice double gets a bit of work here whilst he beats up the other students.

We now change scenes and Seagal is at home and his adorable eight year old daughter who we might as well just call kidnap/murder-revenge fodder, asks him if he's packed for their trip yet, a mother is mentioned, but since this is a Steven Seagal movie, I'm guessing she was tragically murdered/died in childbirth/died in an accident. 

The scene changes again and the shakey cam is back as Seagal discusses with his father/father-in-law their up coming trip, which Seagal will be joining them on, but a day late.  Mother dead = confirmed.  It's the running bloke from the beginning with his suspicious stylus.

We now join a computer dude in a cramped and probably underground office, looking pleased with himself about hacking into something which from the graphic, looks to be the IRS website.  He gives Seagal a call, Seagal is with a very young looking girl who is wearing barely any clothing, this makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable as she's young enough looking to be his daughter and she strips what little she's wearing off a few seconds after the computer guy tells Seagal he can sort out his taxes.

Jail bait
Ah taxes, the one thing which Steven Seagal cannot punch to make it go away.

Romania!  We see a bunch of stock footage and a bloke who looks a lot like Trevor from Eastenders being passed something by a bloke on a motorbike.  Some shady looking guys watch a blonde lady get out of a car, then Seagal, dressed all in suede is met by his daughter and Father/Father-in-law at the airport, Seagal drops his passport.

Trevor from Eastenders plants something in their car whilst Seagal notices he's dropped his passport and asks his daughter to help him look for it.  Sidenote - I've actually met Trevor from Eastenders whilst he was in Little Shop of Horrors (I was waiting for Slyvestor McCoy and he came out first, he's actually very nice and wouldn't really try to kill Little Mo'.)  The shady blokes look on as the device beeps and Seagal & child find the missing passport, Seagal see's someone he knows and they stop to chat as the blonde woman, blatantly pushes into him in a scene that appears was shot once in the dark (camera facing Seagal) and once during the day (camera at the back of Seagal's head.)  Is this foreshadowing?  It is called Shadow man.   Blonde woman goes outside and gives the shady blokes a nod before getting into a taxi.  Kidnap fodder is sent outside as the bloke tried to distract Seagal, but he's having none of it.  Trevor wonders why they aren't just getting on with it as blonde woman beckons Kidnap fodder into her car and surprise, surprise, kidnaps her.

Father/Father-in-law blows up.  Farewell, we hardly knew ye.  Trevor runs for it, Seagal runs outside, tosses some bloke out of his car, whilst the other guy gets in with him, I think he's called Harry, and Seagals drives after them.  Trevor and Shady blokes follow on bikes, but they needn't worry as both the blonde woman and Seagal are driving on one of those dodgy car treadmills that they used to use before they invented the ability to film people driving.

More annoying yellow flashes. 

This is a Seagal movie, why are we doing car chases?  Harry leans out of the window and shoots at the bikers, whose side is he on?  Seagal is almost foiled by a big truck, one of the bikers rides right into it, they've managed to lose all of them at this point, but the shady blokes are pursuing in a car behind them now, taking occasional pot shots out of the window.  They manage to ditch the shady blokes, but lose the taxi and so Seagal and Harry must find a safe house to escape the sound of police sirens.

At the darkly lit safe house, Seagal rightly questions Harry about the whereabouts of his daughter.  He points out he hasn't seen his friend in 7/8 years and the day he runs into him, he daughter gets kidnapped.  Harry says he's basically right not to trust him, but to stay put, he'll be back in an hour and he will totally help get his daughter back.

Harry of course locks him in.

The windows are mostly bricked up, so Seagal sets about taking the walls apart so he can Macguyver himself an explosive device.  It's lucky all that stuff was left lying around really.

This is not a friendly gramophone

Some random mooks get out of a car outside, and they prepare to enter the building with guns, so Seagal can murder them.  One slightly sensible mook steps to the side as the others enter what will be their death scene.

Mook No.1 turns off the gramophone and gets hit in the chest with some sort of bright yellow gas cannister.  Mook No.2 gets shot with a home made gun that looks like it was made out of a walking stick, but he's not quite dead yet, so Seagal reloads and shoots him again.  Mook No.3 who was the one not to enter the room, steps forward and gets hit in the neck with a steak knife that Seagal turned into a throwing knife.  Mook No.4 enters the house and then gets shoot a lot with his own gun.

Seagal exits the house and we see his friend Harry waiting in the car outside a bit down the road.  He gets out to see what's taking so long and of course, Seagal grabs him from behind.  More annoying flashes.  Harry does some exposition about the science dudes from the beginning of the film, as you know, Seagal, the science dudes were making a powerful, untraceable virus thing. 

Father/Father-in-law had the formula and was planning on giving it to the highest bidder so they kidnapped his daughter....  because...?   Seagal gives him a generous two hours to find his daughter.

So Harry goes to see Imelda Staunton at the US embassy, he's working for some government agency and they were trying to get the formula back, the US embassy think that Seagal MUST have something to do with it or know something...  because....?

Trevor from Eastenders is with them incidentally.

Some shady police mooks get out of a car as Seagal is walking down the street and suggest, silently, that he should get into the car.  The embassy guys continue to argue about whether or not Seagal had anything to do with the formula, one of them points out that Seagal carries a gun and therefore must not be innocent.  Harry says that all Seagal wants is his daughter back, I briefly wonder if he's going to mention the 'trying to kill him' malarkey.   

The embassy decide that they are going to look for Seagal's daughter, just in case she's carrying the formula.  At the police station, the police ask Seagal if he knows who took his daughter, just in time for blonde woman (finally given the name, Anya) to enter.  The police assure Seagal that all the taxi drivers in the city work for the police and Anya could not possibly have taken his daughter.

The weird thing with the lighting is starting to become a bit more blatant in this scene, with having Seagal constantly in shadows.

Wide shot

 
Close up

Seagal says he's done talking, one of the police officers, never having seen a Seagal movie, says "You're done when we say you are."  So Seagal breaks his arm while Anya makes a run for it.

Harry is sent off with Trevor from Eastenders and another random mook.  This mook says he thinks martial arts looks great in the movies, but is rubbish in real life.  (Which ironically is more true than most people think.)  Harry tells the mook he does not want to fuck with Steven Seagal.  (Also ironically more true than people think.)

They go looking for Seagal who emerges from the shadows, foreshadowing, the stupid mook shoots Harry and then Seagal turns his gun on him before throwing him off a balcony.   Trevor takes some random pot shots, Seagal shoots back and Trevor, sensibly, runs for it, whilst the shady guys watch from a car, with more annoying yellow flashes.

Kidnap fodder tries to escape from Anya, who tells her to sit down and behave.  Anya says, "I didn't kidnap, I saved you from getting hurt" which is a blatant lie, as she totally kidnapped her.

It turns out that Anya was a secret agent in England, who did a runner, I think she's about as trustworthy as a stool with two legs. 

They bond over the fact that Anya the untrustworthy has a dead child and as the scene cuts to Trevor lighting a fag I am overcome with a feeling that I have seen this film before in channel 5 but can't really remember what happens, actually I probably just had it on in the background so I probably wasn't watching it properly.

Anya leaves the Kidnap Fodder in the capable babysitting hands of a dude in a wheelchair. 

Strip club!  The police guys go to report to a guy with a pony tail about Seagal, really this scene is just an excuse to show some boobies on the screen because as soon as they leave the pony tail guy and his mook have a brief conversation, half of which is in Romanian.

Seagal decides he's had enough of this movie so he gets into a taxi and asks the guy to take him to a place he can get drugs and women.  The driver takes him a place and Seagal tells him to wait for him, he asks two scantily clad women where he can get some cocaine and is brought inside a big house.  He tells the guys inside he wants to party and spots a guy in a weird mask who apparently had a free basing (whatever that is) accident then asks them if they can get him some prescription drugs.  Party hard, Seagal.

The guys decide they don't like him so they attack and Seagal karate chops them, the guy with mask, loses his mask and Seagal notes, "that's not a free basing accident, that's syphilis."  Nice.  How exactly is that relevant to the plot?

End of Part 1, for part 2, click here.

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