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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
"Everybody wanna be a tough guy, but nobody wanna pay the price"June 3 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Forget that Kill Switch and Against the Dark ever happened. It's just not worth remembering those two catastrophes when you can group together the overall string of recent victories for Steven Seagal's DTV career that are Urban Justice, Pistol Whipped, and now "Driven to Kill." This latest entry isn't *quite* as good as either of the former two, but is nonetheless one of the best things that Seagal's done in the last half-decade.
The story: Ruslan Drachev (Seagal) is a former member of the Russian mob and current novelist whose daughter Lanie (Laura Mennell, Watchmen) is attacked and left comatose on the eve of her marriage to the son of his arch nemesis, the mafia kingpin Mikhail (Igor Jijikine, Indiana Jones 4). Ruslan suspects Mikhail and sets out on a trek of vengeance with the aid of the mob boss's son and his daughter's fiancé Stephan (Dmitry Chepovetsky, ReGenesis).
The pressing questions that make or break a Seagal film: (1) is the storyline coherent, (2) how obvious is Steven's stunt double, and (3) how much of his voice is dubbed? I'm happy to say that in the case of all three, Seagal has improved: the story is straight-forward with virtually no subplots, Steven's voice is not dubbed at all as far as I can tell, and his ever-consistent stand-in Dian Hristov is not even listed in the credits. There aren't a lot of instances in the film where it seems to indicate that it's someone other than Seagal doing his own work to begin with, so if he is using a stunt double, it's not very often and it's been covered up very well.
Yes, Seagal is sticking to his higher standards. He seems more alert and in good physical shape, his character is fairly intriguing, and his fight scenes are well-choreographed and surprisingly vicious. He has seven of these: four shootouts and three hand-to-hand fights. The gunfights are mainly overlookable but get redeemed by a cool machinegun battle. When using his fists, Steven is formidable: he stabs a guy in the face with broken glass, literally beats a fellow to tears, cuts a man to ribbons in a very bloody knifefight, impales a man's head on a spike, stabs a mercenary in the neck and forces him to bleed to death, and stabs his final opponent through the eye with a gun barrel. This older, more sadistic Steven is loads more fun to watch than the supplier of endless "pattycake battles," even though he uses next to no actual martial arts. There is some unnecessary and unwanted quick-cut editing to these fights, but the fact that it's clearly Seagal doing his own work saves them from being any less impressive.
There are some silly editing techniques used in other parts of the movie to kill time, but the important scenes remain untainted. The supporting cast works well: Jijikine as the head villain, Robert Wisden ("Da Vinci's Inquest") as the two-faced husband of Ruslan's ex, and Chepovetsky as Ruslan's quasi-sidekick all do good jobs as immediate costars, while daughter Laura Mennell and mercenary Aleks Paunovic help make up a good supporting base. The casting of actual Russians helps a lot in setting an atmosphere for the film, since there's a lot of Russian being spoken and it all sounds authentic. Seagal does his best with his own version of a Russian accent, and it's nice to see him make an effort the second time around (see Half Past Dead for the first time).
There's some definite ego masturbation for Seagal and I wish there had been more fistfights and/or some innovation of the gun battles, but regardless of these qualms, the film is proof that Steven Seagal is not done being a force in the action realm. It's not quite as no-nonsense as "Urban Justice" or as sophisticated as "Pistol Whipped", but still deserves its four stars. Distancing himself from Sony has paid off for Seagal, and fans ought to take notice ASAP.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Another pretty solid B-action mvoie after many disappointmentsMay 10 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Seagal plays Ruslan, a former Russian gangster who's now a successful crime novelist. He goes to attend his daughter's wedding and finds out her fiancë is the son of his arch enemy, a crime boss. The young man, Stephan, does not want to be a gangster and is not on good terms with his father. When Ruslan's ex-wife and daughter are attacked, he wants to find those responsible, and enlists the help of Stephan, who believes the daughter/fiancé to be dead.
The quality of Seagal's direct-to-DVD movies have been uneven. This time he teams up again with director Jeff King, who directed "Kill Switch", which was one of the better of his recent movies. And "Ruslan", aka. "Driven to Kill" is also a very watchable movie, though not without flaws. Recommended to fans of Seagal and direct-to-DVD action movies. Let's hope his films keep improving and that we won't have to suffer through more movies like "The Foreigner" or "Mercenary for Justice".
In "Driven to Kill" Steven Seagal is a former Russian mafia turned popular crime novelist Ruslan Drachev. This is a typical revenge story involving his lovely daughter who is getting married, and her fiancé Stephan (Dmitry Chepovetsky) who happens to be a son of a Russian mobster Mikhail (Igor Jijikine, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"). The story is serviceable and some of the supporting actors playing the baddies turned in solid acting.
As a straight-to-DVD flick, the film's actions are OK. There are several shoot-outs and they are decent, if not outstanding. There is no originality, to be sure, all run-of-the-mill type of gun actions, but they are not that awful. As to the martial arts scenes, it is nothing great. Quick cuts and shaky camera can hardly cover up the fact that Mr. Seagal can't move like he used to do (and sadly we all know that). One surprise is that it seems he did most of the stunts himself. They didn't even dub his voice, but as he mumbles in a Russian accent, sometimes it is hard to understand what he is saying.
This is not totally abysmal, far better than his previous work "Against the Dark" and on par with his 2007 "Urban Justice."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Steven back in form.Feb. 4 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
watching seagal movies forever i have noticed you cant really have high hopes for oscar like acting and script. what you can do is prey that he is on par with his aikido skills and his gun and knife play. in past movies cant remember what ones but i have niticed him using a stunt double for fight scenes and that realy took away from his movies. i want steven seagal. but ok enough's enough. Steven seagal say what you will the guy can act and he can fight and can lead a sub par movie. but this is not a sub par movie. with better budget i would have like to see this in the theatre it could have brought the man back. he did his own fights, and his accent was not bad, i thought for a second that he was russian. this was a good movie, and actually worth the money.. for some not for others.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Seagal looks withdrawn, not a valid BluMay 15 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
My customers keep hoping for Seagal to return to his glory days, but unfortunately the last few films have made it to where people will not even rent his stuff now. This one won't necessarily help, but it doesn't hurt his chances too much either.
Standard story: He is retired from being a mean guy, something bad happens to someone he cares about, the close up of his eyes becoming angry, then lots of bad guys meet their end. To be clear, this had the most gratuitous close-up of his face I have ever seen - it scared me. What bothered me the most is he seems tired. Not sure how else to word it, I don't think his heart is in these.
The Blu quality was below average. Plenty of grain, focus issues and other tech problems. I love DTS, but this wasn't mixed well. The fake sounds of Seagal beatings detracted from trying to watch. No special features to speak of. Can not recommend this as a Blu purchase over the DVD quality.