Monday, March 9, 2009

Against the Dark Review

Against the Dark Poster

In the late 80's and through the mid 90's Hollywood was giving Martial Arts stars a big push. Movies starring Van Damme, Seagal and others were constantly in mainstream action films. These films were often times very brutal in nature, rated R and weren't really much to watch. These films did well early on, then got terrible as time went on. As time went on, the American movie going public didn't go see these guys in theaters anymore and they found a new audience with straight to dvd movies. Recently, headlines were made when Jean Claude Van Damme nearly hit the box office with a new film, then rumors swirled and later confirmed that Sylvester Stallone would bring back a rag tag team of action movie stars to star in a new feature length film, and you know that it will most likely hit the box office. However, absent from the group of names thrown around with Stallone is Steven Seagal. Seagal has been in films like "Above the Law", "Hard to Kill" and "Under Siege" just to name a few. He has been a soft spoken martial arts star and recently has joined the rest of the martial art movie stars in direct to dvd features. Of course, the exception is Jackie Chan, but then again, he has been a huge star in Hong Kong long before he made his first American only film. Steven Seagal jumps back to dvd this year with an adventure in all things macabre, creating an interesting combination of zombie, vampires and martial arts, not too unlike "The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires" from Hammer Film Studios, with one huge difference; these undead creatures are fast and ruthless...oh and Steven Seagal is the star. So without further ado, here we go into a review of "Against the Dark" featuring Steven Seagal!

Steven Seagal stars as a leader of a special ops unit that vanquish vampires. It's that simple. The movie's plot is similar to 28 Days Later, if only in that there is an infection going around that is turning people into zombie vampire looking things, who are running through people left and right, creating an army of sorts for Steven Segal and company to mow down in some interesting fight scenes.

Here is the trailer for Against the Dark:

The look and feel of this film is not too unlike other straight to dvd movies. There is a nice high definition feel to the film, and the camera is not too bad. This camera is not like "Serum" or other horror movies that landed straight to dvd. It's a notch above, and dare I say, even borderlines with good straight to dvd films. The pacing is right there too, spot on, good overall pacing, throwing you directly into the action and not leaving a lot of room for plot structure or explanation. While there are some moments in this film that seem dry, it's not terrible and you never feel like you're bored out of your skull. Granted, Seagal is not in this film as much as the box cover and hype surrounding the film suggests, but you don't mind, since he can't really act all that well to begin with. The film does manage to have an above average supporting cast to carry Seagal through some tougher, more rigid parts of this film.

There is a lot of cg bullet effects in this film, similar to that of "Zombie Strippers" however, it isn't overblown and over the top. The thing that bugs me in this film is the switch between camera movement. The camera is still and very "Hollywood" in a lot of ways, until there is fighting and chaos on the screen. This is my problem with "28 Weeks Later" and "House of the Dead". The chaotic camera movements and shoulder cam type of motion really pulls me out of the film, and is not necessary. They also do not need to slow down or speed up the action, and while I understand that this gives the movie a little more artistic push, it really hinders the effectiveness of Seagal's performance.

The gore effects are good, at least adequate in many ways. The best part of the gore in this film is that a lot of it comes from a sword! Steven Seagal uses a gun in this film sparingly, he uses the sword a lot and he hacks and slashes his way through zombie vampires with ease. He doesn't do a lot of hand to hand combat and there's a great deal of action with no remorse. Good overall fights, and good overall kills, bring this movie from the bottom of the barrel to above average in the details.

Is Against the Dark Scary? : No. While there are a lot of effects and gore in this film, there's not a whole lot more to it. Where this film fails most is in the story. The story is average and patched together into a mish mash of other zombie vampire style films. There's nothing really new that this film does, and half the times you wonder if the vampires are really vampires or if they are truly zombies. It's something that the film never fully addresses and the viewer doesn't care about.

This straight to dvd film is not worth over thinking or really trying to stretch words for. Steven Seagal is not making a good comeback with this film, but it's better than most of his other straight to dvd works. While this film is a little bit above the radar now, it's NOT that great overall and will likely not make it to a lot of people's dvd players. Sure it has a few good moments, but the sum of the parts leaves you wanting, and that's not a good thing. Against the Dark is a little above average, but not worth giving my best rating. Steven Seagal is a little better, but not by much. Enter this one at your own risk.

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  1. Nice review Jorge.

    I will admit that when I 1st heard of this one, I thought "cool" :-)
    Then I began to read all of the negative reviews, and I almost decided not to bother with it [or at least wait until it hits cable]

    Your review is one of the slightly more positive ones - I think that I will keep it in my Netflix Queue for now.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Yeah, it has a few bright spots, but not a whole lot. I watched it with some friends and we had a good time, so maybe that goes into it a little too.

  3. Not a great movie. Was Steven even in this one; seems like he played a minor supporting part with minimal character development. It was a bad knock off of 28 days later. Very few redeeming qualities.

    I dare you to disagree.... "We are here to decide who lives and dies.......... I am going hunting.."

  4. jervaise brooke hamsterNovember 6, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    I genuinely think this is Seagals best film because its the only one i know of where hes fighting against supernatural fantastic monster type foes rather than simply against other hu-girl beings. Its always better if the hero of a movie has to do battle with monsters or robots of some-kind rather than just against other people.


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A writer first, cat lover second, and some other stuff too. Human, with lots of faults, and terrible communication.
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