Looking Back at Urban Justice (2007)

Plot: A man with a violent past seeks revenge for the murder of his son, a police officer who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting. In his desperate hunt for the killer, he makes some dangerous enemies.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a documentary about the adventures of Steven Seagal where he repeatedly kicks people in the nuts so I thought today I would look back at Urban Justice. Of all the straight-to-DVD era Steven Seagal movies (and there are quite a few) I’ll admit that Urban Justice isn’t the worst and dare I say it, I even enjoyed it.

In Urban Justice Seagal is out for retribution against the people who killed his son; the only problem is he doesn’t know who it was so he goes into the Hood and starts beating everyone up until he finds the right person.

This is Seagal at his merciless best; at one point he has beaten up a group of gang members who are pretty much unconscious, but not wanting any of them to get the upper hand Seagal heroically breaks one of the guy’s neck… even though he isn’t any kind of threat. As always nobody beats Sensei in a fight so he barely gets a scratch however, he does get shot and seems injured for about 30 seconds but after like 2 scenes he is 100% healed and it’s never brought up again.

I love how when Simon Ballister (Seagal) finds out the tragic news of his son’s demise he doesn’t shed a tear or offer any words of comfort to anyone else at the funeral. He just stands there looking awkward and says nothing; we eventually find out later that he was overcome with emotion… and yet he still doesn’t show any.

At just under 95 minutes Urban Justice moves at a decent pace with regular fight scenes; they are of course overly edited but if you’ve seen Seagal movies at this stage we know what we’re in for. We also get a car chase and a few shoot-outs so it does what you’d expect. The best aspect of the entire film is the use of blood squibs which we don’t see too much of these days and they still look awesome.

Eddie Griffin isn’t remotely threatening and I never understood quite why Seagal lets him live at the end as he did shoot him in the shoulder and Seagal has killed plenty of other people for less. I think the reason Griffin is left alive is so he can say how gangster and badass Seagal is as he walks away which is exactly what happens and it’s all done with a straight face which makes it even funnier.

We get to see Seagal and Danny Trejo share the screen together before returning in 2010’s Machete; it’s more of a cameo from Trejo but he makes everything better with his mere presence.

I was reading on IMDB that in a 2020 interview, “director Don E. FauntLeRoy discussed the troubled production of this film. Unlike most of the direct-to-video films Steven Seagal was making at the time, which kept his screen time to a minimum while having a sidekick do most of the action scenes, this film featured Seagal’s character in 90% of its scenes. When combined with a 20-day shooting schedule, this made Seagal’s long-standing policy of only spending a few hours a day on set unfeasible. Production quickly spiraled into FauntLeRoy filming as much as he could around Seagal and Seagal refusing to come to work, which resulted in two days being wasted. On the very last day Seagal spent more than 13 hours filming 22 pages of material to make up for lost time. FauntLeRoy cites this as a primary reason why he and Seagal have not worked together since, although he believes the film is still among the best of Seagal’s DTV output”.

In a piece of nice timing Space Ice released a video today too where he discussed this movie and it’s more entertaining than any review I could ever write. I never noticed the license plates changing throughout the film but Space Ice really has a knack for details which is why he’s the best.

Overall, Urban Justice is admittedly quite entertaining (mostly for the wrong reasons) and better than a lot of Seagal’s straight-to-DVD era movies; that isn’t saying much but I do still enjoy watching him snap necks and kick people in the nuts on a regular basis.

Check out Space Ice’s entertaining video on the film below.