Steven Seagal is not only an action hero on-screen, but in real life as well. He’s a reserve deputy Sheriff in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and gives cops lessons on how to kick some criminal ass. He spent a lot of his adult life as an Aikido instructor in Japan and was the first foreigner to operate an Aikido dojo in Japan.
When he moved to Los Angeles, he made his film debut in 1988 in Above the Law (or Nico as it’s called in the UK). In 1990 he made 2 of my personal favourites of his: Hard to Kill and Marked for Death; Hard to Kill of course, has the classic line:
In Marked for Death, Seagal faces off against a Jamaican drug lord and has some quality Hard R violence.
In 1991 he made (in my opinion) his masterpiece: Out for Justice and starred alongside William Forsythe who played Richie. Out for Justice feels almost like a Scorcese movie, I know “Eoin, what is this madness you speak?” Well, think about it; it’s about 2 local boys who grew up together and one becomes a cop and the other a badass criminal. As adults, it’s up to the Cop (Seagal) to bring his ex-friend Richie to justice. The violence is realistic and shocking and feels more like an urban gangster movie rather than an action movie. I consider it an essential watch for all action fans.
In 1992 he played his most famous role: Navy SEALs counter-terrorist expert Casey Ryback. It was essentially “Die Hard on a boat” as was popular at the time.
In 1994 he made his directorial debut in the underrated On Deadly Ground alongside Michael Caine and Billy Bob Thornton. Sure, it’s a bit preachy but you gotta love a film that’s about saving the environment and he blows up an entire oil rig at the end and single-handedly kills hundreds of people… hooray?
In 1995 he returned as Casey Ryback in the unintentionally hilarious Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, which unsurprisingly did rather poorly in theaters. You MUST watch this film with several beers and enjoy such classic dialogue as:
Travis Dane: That’s what is says… Ryback.
Mercenary # 2: Casey fuckin’ Ryback?
Mercenary #1: Jesus Christ.
Travis Dane: Who’s Casey fucking Ryback?
Penn: Casey Ryback is an ex-Navy SEAL captain. A counter-terrorism expert.
Mercenary #1: He was my instructor at Fort Bragg.
Mercenary # 2: He’s the best there is.
During the latter half of the 90s, Seagal starred in three more theatrical films: Executive Decision, The Glimmer Man and Fire Down Below. Executive Decision is a bit of a classic and stars Kurt Russell in the title role with Seagal on supporting duty. It was extremely tense and also features Joe Morton being out of breath… for a change.
Then things started to shift and Seagal’s movies began to go straight to DVD; the first being The Patriot. His next theatrical release would be 2001’s Exit Wounds with rapper DMX and 2002’s Half Past Dead with another rapper Ja Rule.
Seagal has now appeared in approximately 25 Straight-to-DVD movies but returned to the big screen in 2010’s Machete. Over the past few years, he’s been filming his reality show Steven Seagal: Lawman.
He has recently starred in the cop show True Justice on the Reelz Channel, which is proving very popular with action fans and has been renewed for a second season.
Word on the street is Steven Seagal is confirmed for a role in the Expendables 3 and I say it’s about damn time.
Aside from movies he’s also a musician and the founder of Steven Seagal Enterprises.
At 60 years of age, Steven Seagal is showing no signs of slowing down and I think we should be thankful. Keep kicking ass Steve and we’ll keep watching.