Look out, world — ‘cuz Steven Seagal is at it again! For a while there, it looked like Seagal was going “legit.” He had a fairly-enjoyable reality TV show (Steven Seagal: Lawman), had co-starred in Robert Rodriguez’s wonderful grindhouse-film homage Machete, and even started to gain some of that long-lost respect back from his regular viewers (who once called themselves “fans”). Most importantly, however, Seagal laid off the making of bad Eastern European-made direct-to-video b-movies.
But then, his show got put on hold for a bit due to sexual harassment lawsuit, his esteem from doing Machete didn’t soar as high as Dolph Lundgren’s did after shooting The Expendables, and the man himself returned to manufacturing bad Eastern European-made direct-to-video b-movies.
In Born To Raise Hell, waddles his hefty way through his own poorly-written script as an Interpol agent working in Eastern Europe (which saves the production crew from having to disguise locations to make them look American for a change). His character, a real bad-ass known as Samuel (the name “Shemp” comes to mind for some reason) Axel, constantly has to remind viewers that he’s a total toughie: mumbling variations of the word “fuck” in every other sentence and firing off round after round of ammunition at the bad guys from his trusty ol’ Colt 45.
The villains in this case consist of several top-level narcotics dealers such as notorious gangster Dimitri (Dan Badarau) and a raving psycho by the name of Costel (Darren Shahlavi).
The film is riddled with sex and violence galore. Sadly, while those two elements are the cornerstone of many b-movie cult classics, Seagal’s script brings nothing new to the Table of Original Plots, and the direction at the hands of stunt guru Lauro Chartrand (his directorial debut) is pretty choppy and about what you‘d expect from a first-time director. In short: Born To Raise Hell is passable, low-budget Euro entertainment — but never actually succeeds in being memorable.
Paramount presents Born To Raise Hell in an adequate MPEG-4/AVC 1080p transfer and in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image is pretty darn sharp overall, with some strong black levels and colors (the movie has that blue/grey-ish tint going on throughout, since it’s a “crime” flick) and a fairly-robust amount of detail. Accompanying the feature is a equally nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, which is a fitting match for all that the on-screen exploits have to give us. Subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish are included. No special features are anywhere to be found here: just a cheapo menu and the scene selections.
The bottom line: Born To Raise Hell really only succeeds in stirring up a little torment amid its viewers more than anything. Best viewed after a few drinks and an extra-large, Steven Seagal-sized pizza.