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Genre: Action, Garbage
Country: United States
Starring: Steven Seagal, Luce Rains
Eye candy: Jessica Williams, Liezl Carstens, Kisha Sierra
Director: Keoni Waxman
Run time: 94 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
I can’t contain myself. Another Steven Seagal direct-to-DVD movie! And following so closely on the heels of the last one! In the meantime, I have been able to get my Seagal fix on a weekly basis mow that Steven Seagal: Lawman has hit the airwaves. Which is also awesome. I love it. Seagal is everywhere! He’s doing police work, he’s visiting children in the hospital, he’s playing with his band, he’s comforting hurricane victims, and now – he’s making more hilariously awful ironically entertaining movies on DVD!
The Keeper stars Seagal as, what else, a cop. In the opening scene he is betrayed, shot and left for dead by his partner, who tries to make off with a big score of money. Of course, he isn’t dead – shock, no? He’s in critical condition in the hospital, in a coma of sorts. Soon, the partner is heading for the hospital to shut him up for good. Wouldn’t you know it, Seagal is waking up at that exact moment! After all, Steven Segal IS Hard To Kill.
Now, if I were waking up in the hospital after being shot by my partner, the first thing I would do is tell my neice, who is in the room, and the attendant who is looking after me, that it was my partner who shot me, and perhaps they should call the cops, let them know, and post a guard. Not Seagal. Instead, he surreptitiously slips a gun out of his niece’s purse, all the while continuing to feign unconsciousness. I guess if he let the nurse know he was awake, then she might try to help him, and would be in the room when the bad guy came in to finish the job. He was just trying to protect the innocent. Seagal does that.
Of course, he shoots the bad guy when he shows up. Then he has lunch with his smoking hot niece. I assume that this opening scene existed for one of two reasons. Either someone on the production team was trying to nail the actress who plays his niece, or someone owed a gambling debt to the guy who plays the double-crossing partner. Because the rest of the film has absolutely nothing to do with the first twelve minutes!
Then again, who would expect anything else from Seagal? His straight to DVD movies, of late, have been little more than a series of virtually unrelated scenes involving broken arms and gunfights, loosely tied together by what passes for a plot. The Keeper is a little more coherent than most of them, but of course has its fantastically silly Seagal moments.
The second great Moment comes only minutes later. Seagal has been hired by some nondescript “old friend” to work as a bodyguard for his daughter, who has been threatened a fair amount lately. On his way to meet the family, he stops at the side of the road where, wouldn’t you know it, a bunch of thugs are harassing and threatening a pretty young girl! And Seagal must break their arms and teach them a lesson! It’s perfect Seagal-logic, and establishes his credentials as a bonafide arm-breaker early on. In a totally non-sequitor sort of way.
The hilarious impact of that scene is dampened somewhat later in the movie, when those same thugs show up as part of the team of bad guys. It almost makes it seem as though that initial ass-kicking was for a reason, and set up some kind of plot twist. Almost. It then turns out – wouldn’t you know it – the girl he has been hired to protect (Lieszl Carstens) is smoking hot and slutty! Amazing.
She doesn’t seem too difficult to protect – she just goes to bars, gets totally smashed and sloppy gross drunk, and gets hit on by creeps. Which of course gives Seagal a reason to get into bar fights and use submission holds on guys in silk shirts and hairspray. The bar scenes also appear especially easy to shoot – I think three of them were done in the same bar, at the same time.
I rarely complain about continuity errors in movies, because I’m not specifically looking for them. In a Seagal movie, however, continuity errors are almost essential conventions, and when they are glaring, they just add to the gloriousness of the overall product. The most obvious one here is when (in just one of the bar scenes), Carstens is wearing a black sleeveless top while getting smashed at the bar. She turns to go outside and puke, and emerges from the bar wearing a pink shirt with frilly sleeves. Seems like a pretty easy thing to catch, guys, if it was that easy to notive!
But then, it’s all part of the charm. So too is Carstens’ boyfriend, a sissy, loser pantywaist who is easily pushed around, easily cuckolded, and all too eager to please. He is also a boxer. Only in a Seagal film could the boxer be the biggest loser, the least manly, and the most lily-livered character in the whole thing. Boxers are total sissies, you see, compared to martial artist action hero tough guy cops. That’s how tough Seagal is. He makes professional boxers seem like Tobey Maguire in comparison!
There are car chases, and silly lines, and gunfights and broken arms and broken glass and explosions, of course. And Seagal of course does not emote, nor does anyone else in the film. In fact, the only moments where a character isNOT straight-faced are when Carstens is falling over drunk. It’s standard Seagal, which means it is entertainingly bad with enough Seagal conventions to make it fun for the hardcore fan. And I am most certainly that.
One more Seagal convention – the recurrence of actors – doesn’t happen a lot here, but afficionados and obsessive DVD collectors will recognize the hot chick, Carstens, from the much better (and much more Seagal-y) Urban Justice. But he’s still out for revenge and murder, he still destroys the bad guys with aikido moves and weapons, te bad guys are still extra-bad (racists, in this case), and there is still creepy sexual tension between Seagal and his vastly younger co-star. Well, there is sexual tension for about three minutes halfway through the movie. Then they seem to forget about it.
Oh, and a lot of the bad guy stuff happens in a strip club, so you get peripheral naked boobs, which is another convention of Seagal of late. It’s like you need naked boobs for the movie, because people expect it, but no one wants to approach the star and ask her to do it, so they just write a bunch of scenes at a strip club to fill the quotient and call it a day.
I like The Keeper. It’s not as good as Seagal’s last few films, but it’s part of a resurgence, at least as far as direct-to-DVD Seagal goes. While the last few movies have featured a slimmer, more convincingly badass Seagal, they have also (most importantly) made sense. I’ll be watching this one a couple more times, then filing it away and tiding myself over with Lawman until the next Seagal direct-to-DVD movie hits the shelves. In three months.