Retro Review: HARD TO KILL

Just before the old site died, I did a Retro Review of Marked For Death. Now we are back in the world of Steven Seagal and that world is a crazy, corrupt place with dirty cops and even more dirty politicians. There isn’t much we mere mortals can do about it. The good news is Mason Storm (Seagal) can do a lot about it. And you can take that to the bank. The blood bank!


Mason Storm. What a name! Mason is an Internal Affairs cop who we first meet on an LA pier at night in 1983. He is filming a meeting with some mob boss, his mooks, and a local politician. He gets the goods on the corruption and then calls his partner back at the station. He lets his Internal Affairs pal O’Malley know before heading home to his wife and son (uh-oh!). He hides the camera in his wall. What Storm doesn’t know is that he was spotted by corrupt cops.

While right in the middle of starting the beast with two backs with Mrs. Storm, the corrupt cops bust in and pull the ultimate cock-block by shotgunning Mason’s wife’s guts out her ass and blasting Mason before he can karate chop them into being good cops. His son does manage to get away from the dirty cops and has the good sense to run to O’Malley’s house. The EMTs arrive and get Mason to the ER, where he falls into a coma and O’Malley tells the cops to list him as a “John Doe” and declare Mason Storm dead.

Mason stays in a coma for 7 years. He is in a vegetable ward being taken care of by nurse Kelly LeBrock. After hearing a campaign ad on the TV of a politician giving his signature phrase, the same one he heard on the dock seven years ago, Mason comes out of his coma. LeBrock finds the contact number for O’Malley, given to the hospital in case Mason ever woke up, and she calls it. Unfortunately, Mason’s pal has retired and one of the dirty cops picks up the phone.


So begins a tense cat-and-mouse game as a newly awakened Storm, with atrophy in his muscles, tries to get out of the hospital with one of the dirty mook cops trying to waste him. Nurse LeBrock buys his story and helps him escape the hospital, taking refuge at a country estate she has been conveniently house-sitting that no one but one friend knows about.

At the country estate, Mason gets caught up on current events from 83-1990 such as Transformers G-1 going off the air and Nike discontinuing the Nike Vandals velcro top shoe. Finally Mason see’s the dirty politician’s new campaign ad and recalls it was him that he’d caught on candid camera all those years ago. We get some flashback feels, a recovered camcorder, VHS evidence and learn that the dirty cops framed Mason before his “death”. The race is on to get to Mason’s son, use the tape, and take revenge on the dirty California Senator (that’s redundant I know!).



William Sadler appears in an early career role as a corrupt politician, the same year he would go on to be the bad guy in Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Kelly LeBrock is straight off Weird Science and The Woman In Red. Hard to Kill debuted at number 1 at the U.S. box office with an opening weekend gross of $9.2 million, the biggest 3-day February opening at the time. It eventually grossed $47.4 million in the United States and Canada and $59 million total box office worldwide.

The critical reception for Hard To Kill was not so kind. It holds a 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 15 reviews; the average rating is 4.1/10.  Audiences know better. On CinemaScore they gave the film an average grade of A− on an A+ to F scale.

The audience view matches mine. Hard To Kill is probably my favorite Seagal action flick from that short window of years when he made some damned entertaining action film. Nothing too complex, with lots of action and killing. What else do you want man?

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