He’s a wee bit controversial but one things is for certain, Aikido practitioner and movie star Steven Seagal has a loyal fan-base who constantly watch his movies.
If you’ve ever studied Aikido (which I did for a number of years) you’ll find a lot of practitioners following Seagal’s films, watching their peaceful art being transformed in the violent and ruthless action that Seagal is known for.
Despite their lack of popularity in mainstream movies, Steven Seagal films are a guilty pleasure of mine and many others for this ruthless action and the fact that you don’t have to take these films too seriously.
So below I have a list of his most popular films that fans always look back to as the peak of Steven Seagal’s career!
The Glimmer Man
The Glimmer man is another cop drama/action movie where Steven teams up with Keenen Ivory Wayans and shares some decent onscreen chemistry.
There are some strange murders happening and both men are on the case, but things get personal when Cole’s (Seagal’s) ex wife is murdered. Naturally the investigation intensifies and the two become targets of the men behind the whole scene. So lots of gun fights and Stephen Seagal throwing people through windows.
This movie shows off some of Seagal’s Aikido but more striking abilities, including what looks like some Wing Chun trapping hands although I’m not certain whether he has had any formal Wing Chun training.
What I did like was the reference to Sun Tzu’s Art of War, as Seagal’s character turns his enemies against themselves as a way of defeating them and sorting out the case. Overall it’s a decent action flick and has some nice enough fights – at least as good as you can expect from Seagal anyway.
Out for Justice
Seagal is back in another vengeful and angry role where he sets his sights on a criminal gang to wipe them off the Earth. Why? They killed his friends and a fellow Police officer.
Yeah, Seagal is playing a cop bent on revenge – seems a little unlike him! 😛
This is without a doubt one of Seagal’s top films with plenty bone snapping and ruthless action throughout. Like a lot of Seagal’s earlier films (this was made in 1991), you’ll see his some of his best martial arts in this film.
Hard to Kill
This time, Seagal plays a cop whose in the thick of it after he uncovers links between corrupt police officers, politicians and the mob. In retaliation a hit is ordered on his family, his wife is killed whilst he and his son are left for dead.
Seagal’s character wakes up from a coma several years later and heads to get his revenge with aikido throws’a’blazing. He proves himself to be quite…. “hard to kill”… for his enemies as he goes after them in typical ruthless fashion.
Again, plenty of action as this is not the films in Seagal’s early line up.
Marked for Death
This film is another of early line up of Seagal’s action films, utlizing Seagal’s skills at the peak of his career.
This time Seagal plays John Hatcher, a cop (check – well, DEA agent), whose been “Marked for Death” by a Jamaican Drug gang. So he heads out in Seagal fashion to tear the shit up.
I’m not sure what else to say, more cop Seagal fighting criminals who want him dead. Plenty of violence, booyah.
This is a cool Seagal movie based around police corruption, although not due to top notch martial arts (there’s a bit of decent Aikido style action) but mainly because of how it’s all put together with it’s colorful cast of actors.
It’s edited and pieced together in a fun and entertaining way with a smooth soundtrack. The story is told well and has a few twists and surprises that naturally flow into the film.
Seagal is his usual self here with his presence being natural and his fights entertaining. I also enjoyed watching a younger Michael Jai White playing a smaller role, although his martial arts skills were confined to some work on a punching bag and a sword fight toward the end – not the exciting level we’re used to these days though.
Overall, Exit Wounds is well worth checking out but not a fantastic martial arts epic.
On Deadly Ground
This time Seagal plays a hired gun for an oil tycoon played by Michael Caine in this 1994 action film.
Oh yeah, Seagal isn’t a cop in this one! Crazy.
After Seagal’s character Forrest discovers some corner cutting at his work at the expense of safety, Michael Caine’s character sends his goon out to silence (ahem, kill) him. So now he’s “on deadly ground” (ohhhh!! Gotta love those descriptive titles) and fights back.
Despite losing millions in the box office, this film is considered one of Seagal’s top films.
Perhaps one of Steven Seagal’s most successful films, definitely his best in my books, Under Siege is an early 90’s film where Seagal plays the killer Cook named Casey who saves an entire ship from a hostile takeover.
One positive ingredient in this film is the use of Tommy Lee Jones as the main villain, who plays well across form Seagal. His motives are to get a hold of some Tomahawk missiles and kill roughly 1 million people with them. That’s when the cook pulls out his kitchen knife and starts messing things up.
Ok, so he’s not just a cook but an Ex-seal and as the old cliche goes – “he’s the best damn it!” as referred to by his superiors (never heard that line before…. cough cough, RAMBO, cough)
Seagal makes good use of military tactics, firearms and unarmed Aikido fight techniques but excels in his use of knives. He’s throwing them at his targets but also fighting rather technically with them against his enemy, including a nice knife on knife fight as the movies finale.
One of Seagal’s best, worth a look!
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
The violent cook Casey is back and he’s leading a normal life in the kitchen in Denver, no wrists are being snapped, only good food and happy times.
He heads out in a trip with his niece when an evil genius hijacks their train. So it’s brains vs violence/martial arts as Casey steps up to save the train and protect his niece. More fun in one of Seagal’s top film franchises.
Fire Down Below
This film is another 90’s classic in which Seagal plays an environmental protection agent named Jack Taggart.
Taggert discovers a business dumping toxic waste in the Kentucky Hills and steps up to make things right. He goes undercover after the discovery of a deceased agent and is quickly noticed and threatened by some of the people in the area.
Taggert keeps pushing and eventually sets out take down the business behind the dumping.
This is one of the tamer films on this list but still a fan favourite.
Nico: Above the Law
This was Steven Seagal’s first film and it made him a big name in Hollywood action films.
Seagal plays the ex CIA operative who split the scene to become a good old fashioned regular cop and do his best to make the world a better place. During his time a guy in the CIA named Zagon was responsible for some pretty inhumane treatment toward his prisoners. Well, naturally he’s back stirring up shit and and of course Nico, Steven’s character, is mixed up in it as the good guy trying to stop crime.
This film is like many of Seagals and are more of a generalized 80’s Hollywood action films – quick fights, chases and gunfights are the way it all goes down with the only difference being the use of Aikido in Seagal’s hand to hand fight scenes. We get a nice little intro to Nico’s Aikido background early on with him watching Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, and being inspired to start practising – a story which mirror’s Seagal’s quite closely.
You’ll see some really nice Aikido in this film with an finale that shows Seagal ending his enemies lives quite sharply and brutally – it’s pretty nice action for a Seagal movie!
Overall one of the few and very best of his films, check it out!
Cock Puncher (Honorable Mention)
Ok, so this movie doesn’t actually exist…
…BUT it’s the perfect parody of Stephen Seagal with the man playing himself. He learns the way of the groin strike and heads out kicking
ass genitalia rattling off lines like “I don’t think you have the balls” and so on. They really should make this a full length movie! (well, maybe not).
It’s part of ‘The Onion Movie’, a movie length comedy skit show that’s worth a watch for a cheap laugh, especially with Seagal’s presence! Check out the trailer below for a hint.
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What do you think?
Did I miss something or get it wrong? Leave a comment below and let’s start the conversation!
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He is one of the best at his game
A very nice list, My personally list starting with the movies I own in no particular order: Belly of the Beast (which I hardly see on any of his list despite the amazing action sequences in it), Hard to Kill, Out For a Kill, Exit Wounds, and Above the Law aka Nico, ones on my hard drive I want to add to my personally collection: Out for Justice, Marked for Death, Glimmer Man, Under Siege, and Urban Justice. The other movies I didn’t care for outside of the sweet parody you mentioned from the Onion Movie, although I don’t think I have watched Under Siege 2
That is a very nice list of Seagal’s flicks.
During the 90’s he’s done most of his iconic films whilst nowadays practically every film he makes is preposterous.
I am a true fan of his work and I admire him as a martial artist and as a person. I had the pleasure of watching him perform live with his blues band while touring Europe.The man rocks!
Awesome, yeah his best stuff is definitely his 90’s movies. I did Aikido for a number of years and always enjoyed him showcasing it in movies, very cool stuff 🙂 Thanks for commenting Asen!