Dark Vengeance

Directed by: Keoni Waxman

Starring: Steven Seagal, Warren Christie, Sarah Lind, Tzi Ma, Meghan Ory, and George Takei

As a child of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, I have a certain affinity for cheesy martial arts/crime/sci-fi fare.  I grew up on films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.  For heaven’s sake, I’ve seen Cyborg multiple times. Thus, I am not opposed to the resurgence of 80’s actors, who are proving that AARP membership does not keep one from knocking some heads together.  With that being said, Dark Vengeance stretches even my tolerance limits.

Recently released on Redbox, Dark Vengeance stars Steven Seagal as Elijah Kane.  Kane is a veteran cop in Seattle who leads an elite team of young officers.  Kane and his team are in the midst of a major case.  A serial killer is targeting young blonde women, specifically strippers.  The perpetrator drugs the women, strangles them and sexually assaults them postmortem.  The killer then ties the women up in a public place with various symbols involving Asian voodoo, including a white flower, a red scarf and a creepy fox mask.

Kane and his team are tasked with finding the murderer.  Since many of the victims are strippers, Kane sends two of his female detectives Juliet (Meghan Ory) and Sarah (Sarah Lind) to work at a local strip club to see if one of them can catch the killer’s eye.  Finding the murderer is easier said than done however, as there are a slew of creepy potential killers all around.  Matters become further complicated, however, when the killer transitions from killing strippers to killing police officers.  As the crime hits close to home, Kane and his team fight to find the killer and save more innocent women from being brutally murdered.

I went into Dark Vengeance completely blind.  I did not watch the trailer, I did not “google” the film, or do any sort of research.  The only thing that I knew about the film is that it starred Seagal and was being released on Redbox in February 2014.  As I watched the film, however, there were a couple of things that jumped out at me immediately.  Dark Vengeance is clearly a low budget film.  More significantly, it plays like a cheesy 80’s cop show, complete with music and freeze frames introducing the characters at the beginning of the film.  The film struck me as a made for television movie or a pilot for a new television series. Much to my surprise, after viewing the film, I found out how correct my assessment was.  Dark Vengeance is actually two episodes of Seagal’s 2011 television series True Justice merged together to create a feature length film.
As a made for television or Redbox movie, Dark Vengeance is decent if you enjoy conventional television crime shows from the 80’s or 90’s.  It is complete with a dastardly villain, a larger than life cop, and a serial killer.  However, if you are expecting a crime thriller that has the twists and turns of current shows like The Blacklist, then Dark Vengeance is not for you.  The movie is just predictable from start to finish.  Further, because this film is two episodes of a television show lumped together, there is very little character development. Knowledge of Kane, his team and their dynamics is assumed, and for those of us who have not watched True Justice, we are left to feel like we started watching a television series mid-season.  Moreover, watching an elderly Seagal slowly kick and chop bad guys is painful at times.  This is simply not the Seagal of Under Siege fame.  To compound matters, Seagal adopted some form of “slang” speak to appear cool, and it just comes off as ridiculous and borderline offensive.

Dark Vengeance earns a wasted rating.  If you like conventional traditional crime fare, then you may find some enjoyment here.  Otherwise, you will need a shot to make it through this hour and a half flick.