The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Contract to Kill (2016)

This is one I was trying to watch for a long time--in fact it was the second-to-last Seagal film I needed to see, the last one is now End of a Gun. It came up for free on Xumo, so I jumped at it and made it happen. In addition to us, our friend Mitch at the Video Vacuum has covered this too, so you can go to his site to see what he thought. Now, without any further ado.

Contract to Kill--not to be confused with any of Seagal's other to Kill movies--has Seagal as a former secret service assassin--not to be confused with the other films where he plays a former secret service agent--who's called back to duty for one last job--not to be confused with the other films where he's a former agent called back into duty for one last job--that involves him forming a team that does most of the heavy lifting and allows him to sit most of the time--not to be confused with the other films where he forms a team that does all the heavy lifting and allows him to sit most of the time. As luck would have it, he and his team find out they're pawns in a government game--not to be confused with the other times... okay, you get the idea. This is your standard Seagal/Waxman get Seagal some money 2010s DTV actioner.


And that's what we've got here, standard DTV fare from Seagal, especially when it's directed by Waxman. Seagal has his trademark chia fuzz goatee and widow's peak hair; he sits more than he stands; he does some slap-chop fights where the other guy can't possibly get a hit in; and his co-stars do more of the heavy lifting. The thing is, these movies have kind of got me. They're fun in spite of themselves. It's not like a bag of Doritos, where I know where the goodness is, and I know I'll be paying for it later if I finish the whole family size bag; these are more like the Wise rip-off Bravos, where I see them on sale, eat them, realize they're not as good as I remember, but their rip-off-ness kind of grows on me, and I like the idea of spending less to eat something not as good. Does any of that make sense? Maybe I out-metaphored myself.

We're nearing the finish line of Seagal's DTV films. By my count we have five left after this--six if I do Clementine, which I may do because it'll be the one that puts him in the 40 Club. The other thing is, with the slow pace at which I'm putting out reviews, he may get some new films out by the time we're finished, meaning we'll have to do those as well. Seagal is going to be 70 next year--which is interesting, because when we started the site his IMDb listed him as born in 1951, so somehow became a year younger since 2007. I used to go by what I called the Death Wish V Standard for action stars, meaning Charles Bronson was 73 when that came out, so that's the oldest for an action lead. Seagal is closing in on that number, and I feel like if he gets more sit-down roles with Waxman at the helm, he could surge past Bronson's Death Wish V age. I never considered it before, but killing someone with a remote control soccer ball is perfect for a sit-down role--and to some extent this movie sets us up to go there, using drones to do a lot of the work for Seagal instead.

This is Keoni Waxman's ninth film here on the site. That doesn't sound like a lot, but for a director that's a pretty big number. To give you a sense, he's one behind DTVC Hall of Famer Cirio H. Santiago. Does that mean Waxman could someday make his own way into the Hall of Fame? I think it's a real possibility. From a numbers standpoint, I think Isaac Florentine and Sam Firstenberg would need to get in before him, and Jesse V. Johnson is right with Waxman as another director who needs consideration; but Waxman's work as the Seagal whisperer alone is Hall of Fame worthy. Between '09 and '17, the only film he did that wasn't a Seagal film was Hunt to Kill. He also did the The Anna Nicole Smith Story, the one that starred Willa Ford as Anna Nicole Smith. That might be an interesting non-Seagal Waxman to check out.

One of Seagal's costars in this is the always great Russell Wong. I saw on his IMDb bio that he's in the new Clifford live-action film that's opening in theaters this weekend. I wonder who's tougher to work with, Seagal or a big CGI red dog? Wong plays the drone guy, so he does a great job allowing Seagal to spend more time sitting. Again, I wonder who sits more, Seagal in this film, or the big CGI red dog? It's a unique situation, because we're used to guys like Byron Mann or Bren Foster who do the heavy lifting in more martial arts scenes, but Wong is doing it with a remote control. Either way, whatever allows Seagal to do the least amount of work, the better.


Speaking of which, look at that screen above, which comes from an extended slow chase where all Seagal does is sit behind a steering wheel and pretend to drive. It's amazing stuff. Seagal also does a fight scene sitting, but this takes the cake for me. With Waxman coming up with new and creative ways to give Seagal action scenes while he's sitting, this shows the lengths of his ingenuity. Hall of Fame nominations are coming in October, and it feels like Waxman is really making a push. If not this year, maybe next year? Especially if more of his Seagal films have gems like this.

And with that, I think we're done. That was quick, right? I feel like I was just starting this review, and suddenly we're on the 8th paragraph. This is now available on Tubi, which makes it a much better option. If you like a good ol' Seagal/Waxman 2010s DTV "actioner," this will do the trick. If you don't, then even for free on Tubi it's a pass.

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