Asian Connection is the first new Steven Seagal movie – with him in a lead role – I’ve seen in possibly two decades. In the meantime there was Machete where he attempted to do away with Danny Trejo, but you certainly don’t screw with the wrong Mexican (to tone down that film’s catchphrase), but back to the lead role aspect.
I loved Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (more so than the first movie), but can anyone remember the last time he was high up the cast list of a big film other than 1996’s Executive Decision?
Hence, I felt it time to give one of his movies a try, and with my love of all things Asian, what better to go for this film, which begins in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where Seagal plays a ruthless crime lord with a thick, stick-on goatee.
Between him and another baddie, this town ain’t big enough for the both of them, and, right from the start, one is going to have to die… and you know it ain’t going to be Seagal… and even though he’s old enough to be drawing his pension, I do hope I’m that agile when I get to that age.
Later moving on to Bangkok in Thailand, Jack (John Edward Lee) and Sam (Byron Gibson, who’s been to the School Of Dodgy Cockney Accents) pull a heist on a bank, whose money just happens to be owned by Seagal (I could say that his character’s name is Gan Sirankiri, but you know that doesn’t really matter, so I may as well just say ‘Seagal’). When the baddies catch up with them, circumstances are such that rather than get their as -ses kicked completely, they must instead carry out further heists on other banks with even more money at stake.
Of course, Seagal only put his money in said bank in the first place because of its high security status… which leads to the question of how such a security-free establishment is meant to be the most secure bank in the area. There are no security doors for a start (even my local bank has double doors where only one set opens at a time, so no-one can just run in and out), and it looks like they’ve hired an empty shop and set up a filmmaker’s idea of a crap bank.
Watching Seagal perform some sort of Tai Chi is laughable and, unfortunately, he doesn’t get involved in much of the action, as he’s the one being ripped off, so he spends most of the time back at his pad, with Cuprinol on his hair, pissing and moaning about his cash being taken.
Meanwhile, Jack and Sam look about as tough as The Wet Bandits from Home Alone, and eventually, it’s down to just Jack and his Thai hottie, Avalon (Pim Bubear), to see if two can go into one.
Asian Connection is not brilliant, but at the same time, it’s never boring. Just check your brain at the door and don’t question how so much collateral damage can get carried out during heists without the cops going to town on them? And, either way, at least you can check out the fantastic Thailand scenery, which is one of the best things about it.
IMDB states this is the first film Seagal and Michael Jai White have starred in together since 2001’s Exit Wounds, although they don’t share any screen time in this one, and MJW only appears in one scene, yet ends up fourth in the credits!
There’s a goof where an explosion at 79 minutes shows Seagal’s truck has already stopped just in front of it, but then the truck is shown *coming* to a stop. Continuity is not director Daniel Zirilli‘s strong point.
It’s also dumb how, during the final heist, Avalon is perfectly cool as a cucumber throughout, but in the final shoot-out, she goes all girly and starts screaming. They should’ve let her join in the action a la Catalina Denis’ role in Brick Mansions.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical anamorphic widescreen ratio and while I normally review Blu-rays, not everything comes out on that format so I still see the occasional DVD, and this one actually looks alright. A little soft but no more so than you’d expect from the average DVD on a big screen (mine’s 50″).
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, and there are occasional split-surround moments and some neat subwoofer bass to tell us when Jack’s in deep doo-doo, but, alas, it’s painfully clear that Seagal’s lines were re-recorded in a room with terrible noise reduction, as you can hear it whenever his lines are delivered amongst the background noise, for example in the final scene when another actor’s voice blends in clearly, yet Seagal’s have white noise mixed in.
There’s just one extra here, but as it’s only a trailer (1:16), I consider that an afterthought rather than an extra. You can see it below.
The main menu is just a static image of the DVD cover set against a snatch of the soundtrack. There’s a bog-standard 12 chapters and no subtitles, so when Jack and Sam are shouting at each other during the bank robberies, you can barely understand a word they’re saying through their motorbike helmets.
Asian Connection is released today on DVD, and click on the packshot for the full-size image.
Running time: 88 minutes
Studio: Soda Pictures
Released: July 4th 2016
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Daniel Zirilli
Producer: Damiano Tucci
Screenplay: D. Glase Lomond (based on a story by Tom Sizemore and Daniel Zirilli)
Music: Ali Helnwein
Jack Elwell: John Edward Lee
Avalon: Pim Bubear
Gan Sirankiri: Steven Seagal
Greedy Greg: Michael Jai White
Sam: Byron Gibson
Niran: Sahajak Boonthanakit
Klahan Sirankiri: Byron Bishop
Sovann: Darunee Srimueng
Timon: Dean Alexandrou
Tower: Ron Smoorenburg
Troy: Chairat Ueasalung
David: David Gray
Dillion: Alexander Winters
Brick House: Nick Khan
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.