Owen Gleiberman
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hard to Kill

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock, William Sadler
director
Bruce Malmuth
distributor
Warner Bros.
genre
ActionAdventure

We gave it a D-

With his ponytail and velvet voice, Steven Seagal makes an ironically gentle kamikaze gunslinger — he’s like a cross between Clint Eastwood and Mickey Rourke. For all that, his presence is paper thin. He’s part of a new breed of action hero: the nonstar star. These lightweight vigilantes — they include Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme — have zero charisma and sell millions of tickets. Why?

It must be because they’re exactly as generic as their movies. At this point, revenge thrillers have become so standardized that these films are really all the same film — a Mixmaster blend of Death Wish, Dirty Harry, Enter the Dragon, and Rambo. A star with a personality would only gum up the works. Hard to Kill does have one original hook: the hero’s predilection for snapping people’s limbs. He makes it seem as easy as breaking a Nestle’s Crunch bar, and for a moment or two, Seagal looks like he’s actually enjoying his work. D-

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