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Film / Marked for Death

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"One thought he was invincible, the other thought he could fly. They were both wrong."

'Marked for Death is a 1990 action film with Steven Seagal in his third starring role.

Seagal plays DEA agent John Hatcher, who has just retired and returned to his home in Chicago following a drug bust in Colombia in which his partner was killed. His experiences have left him disheartened; he believes that there is no way the drug flow could ever be stemmed. Alas, a confrontation breaks out between him and some goons of the Jamaican drug-dealing ring Jamaican Posse who are flooding the streets with drugs.

The next day, some members of the gang including its leader, Screwface (Basil Wallace), shoot Tracy (Danielle Harris), the daughter of John's sister Melissa (Elizabeth Gracen), in a drive-by shooting. Screwface then returns to Jamaica. John, alongside old friend Max (Keith David) and Jamaican cop Charles (Tom Wright), embarks on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge through Chicago and eventually Jamaica to take Screwface out.

Though not quite so famous as Above the Law (1988) or Hard to Kill, this film is one of Steven Seagal's better ones; a fine example of his brand of action and which showcases him at his limb-snapping, wisecracking best.

This film provides examples of:

  • Backup Twin: After Hatcher decapitates Screwface, he learns Screwface had a twin brother.
  • Bad Boss: Screwface.
  • Bond One-Liner: "I hope they weren't triplets."
  • The Cameo: Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff is performing in a Jamaican club performing the song "John Crow". Bizarrely, the song was written for the movie, and actually includes the lyrics "Screwface you know that your time has come! You don't live right, you gonna die tonight!". Is Jimmy Cliff omniscient??
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: It's a Seagal movie, and Seagal loves doing these. Screwface #2 gets his eyes gouged out, is thrown through a wooden wall, has his back broken (with a Sickening "Crunch!") and then is thrown down an elevator shaft, where he is impaled on a piece of steel.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Hatcher has this with Screwface's mistress when he seeks out information on the drug lord's whereabouts.
    Mistress: Screwface have two head and four eyes, and that is the secret to his magic.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Unusual for a Steven Seagal flick, Screwface #2 is able to hold his own against Hatcher, disarms him twice, and gets several hits in before going down.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Seagal actually wrote the reggae song (and sang the opening lyrics) "John Crow" which plays over the end credits.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: The vast majority of the baddies sport the hairstyle.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The main villains are vicious drug-dealers.
  • Eye Scream: Screwface #2.
  • Fanservice:
    • There are a bunch of naked women scattered in it for no reason.
    • Basil Wallace even does Male Frontal Nudity at one point. Mrs. Wallace must be very satisfied.
  • Fruit Cart: In the opening chase scene, a cart gets tipped over.
  • Funny Background Event: The mook who gets his arm broken during the jewelry store fight can be seen at the climax hanging around in the background with his arm in a cast.
  • Groin Attack: Hatcher turns Screwface #1's own katana on himself.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: During his confession Hatcher admits he's done questionable things in the line of duty and fears he's become no better than the people he's trying to bust.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Played with. While Screwface is never shown to have any actual magical powers, he likes to maintain the illusion that he does in order to keep his Mooks loyal, and his enemies confused and fearful.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: John throws Screwface #2 down an elevator shaft, where he lands on a pipe.
    • Seagal himself said in an interview that this was his favorite "kill."
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Averted. John turns down the offer to return to active duty when Screwface's territory starts spreading into the suburbs.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: That Screwface is feared by his soldiers is a constant theme throughout, but it gets taken to an extreme in one scene where a mook named Nesta throws himself out a window rather than help Hatcher take down the boss man. Justified since Screwface has convinced his gang that he has supernatural powers and isn't an ordinary mob boss.
    Screwface give me a thousand deaths worse than you. Go find him your-fucking-self. (Jumps out window)
  • More Dakka: Hatcher's friend Max brings along a M60 light machinegun when the good guys assault Screwface's compound in Jamaica.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: When Hatcher is beating up the Jamaican goons at the store, in the shots where they are thrown into a glass cabinet they're clearly replaced by white stuntmen wearing wigs.
    • Also, several times during the final showdown with Screwface #2, Seagal himself is replaced with a much shorter double wearing a really bad wig. Interestingly, this only happens when Hatcher is on the losing end, which suggests that the sequence was initially filmed in the usual Seagal Curb-Stomp Battle fashion, and tinkered with later (when Seagal wasn't around) to make it more of a back-and-forth affair.
  • Off with His Head!: Screwface #1.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Screwface's gang really should have left Hatcher's family alone.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Screwface.
  • Scary Black Man: Screwface and his goons.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sword Cane: Screwface employs one as his weapon of choice.
  • Villains Out Shopping: In one scene, Screwface is playing dominoes with some of his boys and is wearing what can only be described as a "Cosby sweater". Then he gets word that one of his major henchmen has been killed by Hatcher, and goes on a psychotic rampage against his mooks, including viciously beating one who can't get out of his way quickly enough.
    • The sweater isn't quite innocent. If you look closely, you'll see handgun patterns.
  • The Yardies: Scary Jamaican Gangster Screwface and his men.