"I make a living in the movies..."
He may also have a career in law enforcement, but as Steven Seagal likes to remind everyone in the opening credits of Steven Seagal: Lawman, his star first rose on the silver screen. In fact, while Seagal was busy playing cops in movies, he was also becoming one as well. So, before Reelz debuts Lawman's upcoming, never-before-seen, lost season on January 2nd at 10pm ET/PT, let's take a look at our picks of the best five Seagal movies!Fighting Crime and Catching the Bad Guys
Above the Law (1998)
The one that started it all. Prior to playing Chicago vice squad detective Nico Toscani, Seagal had worked as an Aikido instructor and a martial arts coordinator for 1983's Never Say Never Again, but Above the Law turned him in to a full-fledged action star. As director Andrew Davis explained in a recent interview:
"Well, Above the Law is interesting because when I first got involved with it there was a whole other script Warner Brothers sent me about dealing with corruption on the waterfront in San Francisco. I met Seagal and first of all, I said, 'Look, maybe Jon Voight could play this part.' It’s years ago and they said, 'Well, meet this guy, Steven Seagal.' So I meet him and he said, 'I picked you. I’m Michael Ovitz’s karate teacher. I saw Code of Silence and I want you to be the director of my movie.'
"I spent some time with him and went back to the studio and said, 'First of all, we need to do a screen test' which I did with Kelly LeBrock, who he had brought to Chicago and we shot some stuff. The studio loved it and I said, 'You know, you’re doing the wrong movie with this guy. Do the movie based upon who he says he is and what he did in Vietnam and how he was a karate teacher and master. Don’t forget this cop story but tell [his story].' They said, 'How long will it take you to write it?' because there was going to be a strike. We wrote the script in five weeks and that became Above the Law."
Hard to Kill (1990)
While Above the Law broke Seagal into the movie biz, it was Hard to Kill that cemented Seagal's reputation as an action star, debuting at the top of the box office charts. Seagal plays Los Angeles police detective Mason Storm, who is, you guessed, pretty hard to kill. How hard? Well, after being shot up by a group of corrupt policemen, Seagal merely enters a coma for seven years. He awakens ready to seek revenge over the death of his wife and son, and, with the help of his nurse (Seagal's then-wife LeBrock), Seagal takes down the bad guys with a mix of his Eastern medicinal knowledge and philosophy and his literal, arm-breaking intensity.
As Seagal's Storm points out: "We're outgunned and undermanned, but you know what? We're gonna win. And you know why? Superior attitude. Superior state of mind."
Under Siege (1992)
Seagal's most popular movie (at least in terms of our own reader poll), Under Siege saw Seagal reunite with his Above the Law director Davis to play former Navy SEAL turned cook Casey Ryback, who must take down a traitorous Naval commander (Gary Busey) and an ex-CIA operative (Tommy Lee Jones) before they can steal missiles off a Navy battleship.
The success of the movie brought Seagal's first sequel (1995's Under Siege: Dark Territory), and, perhaps, might yet yield another sequel if all goes well. "They're talking about making Under Siege 3 right now and they're very close to doing that," Seagal said earlier this month.
If you're looking to re-watch Under Siege, Reelz has you covered, as Under Siege is a part of Reelz' programming schedule to help bring in the New Year!
On Deadly Ground (1994)
We had to include On Deadly Ground in this list, if only because Seagal himself often refers to it as his favorite movie of his career. "I think that for mankind, that’s probably the most important work I’ve done," said Seagal in a 2012 interview.
Stepping into the director's chair for the very first time, On Deadly Ground sees Seagal play oil-drilling specialist Forrest Taft, who decides to take out an unsafe, Alaskan oil refinery before it destroys Inuit land. The environmental action movie co-starred Michael Caine as Seagal's evil boss, who admitted he learned a valuable lesson while working on the movie's Alaskan setting. "Although Steven and the rest of the team were great to work with," said Caine in 2010. "I vowed never to work in a tough location again."
While Seagal is used to playing the cop ready to get revenge on the corrupt villain who destroyed his family, Seagal played the villain instead in Machete.
"It was a fun movie for me to work on," said Seagal in 2010, "And even though it's larger than life and kind of crazy and wacky, in a way it also addresses sensitive issues such as racial profiling and prejudice and how people can and do work together in different situations."
It also put a sword in Seagal's hands for his final confrontation with Machete (Danny Trejo), something that Lawman fans know is something Seagal is an expert on.