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Born to Raise Hell (Blu-ray Review)

Steven Seagal is back, and he was Born to Raise Hell, in his latest DTV (direct-to video) adventure on Blu-ray!  Paramount Pictures has picked up the home video distribution rights.  Not only is Steven Seagal back to take out the garbage, he also wrote and produced Born to Raise Hell. Here’s another tidbit of information, Born to Raise Hell was also made for about ten million dollars.  Yeah, that’s not a low budget for independent films. That’s a decent amount of cash.  Born to Raise Hell was also filmed in Bucharest, so there’s a very exotic feel to it.  The question beckons, though.  How will Born to Raise Hell measure up to Steven Seagal’s previous DTV romps?  That’s where you come in, my dear reader.  Go forth and find out! 

Film 

Samuel Axel (Steven Seagal) is an Interpol Drug Task Force agent working the mean streets of Eastern Europe in Bucharest, Romania.  When one of his agents is gunned down, Axel will have to make the ultimate decision of whether to join forces with one of the criminal drug lords he’s after to exact his revenge on a cop killer.  Nothing will stand in his way.  Yeah, that’s what the film’s about, I kid you not.

Going in on Born to Raise Hell, I had my doubts on whether it was going to be good or whether it was going to suck.  I’ll go with the former and say that I actually enjoyed it for what it was.  It was a throwback to his earlier films, except that Seagal is a little older, and a little bigger.  Born to Raise Hell was directed by longtime stuntman Lauro Chartrand, who for some reason, utilized this weird technique of freeze framing and fast forwarding of scenes that don’t need be stopped or sped up.  I almost called it a day after watching the first five minutes, because that opening is pretty awful.  That same technique gets sprinkled in there a few more times throughout the film, but makes more sense to do it in those scenes than doing it in the opening.

The big question that some of you may be asking yourselves is: How are the fights?  I am happy to report that the fights are NICE!  For a much bigger and older guy Seagal still has some speed and I took great pleasure in watching him break various nameless henchman apart with his advanced aikido skills.  Some of the hits were very cool and brutal.  In addition to the hand-to-hand combat Born to Raise Hell also provided some excellent gunfights, executions, and a couple of hearty explosions.  Everything a growing boy needs!  BOOM!

Yes, Born to Raise Hell will not win any prizes for the best acting, directing or writing, but it’s a whole lot of fun!   I should also make mention that a recent familiar face to some will have to be the inclusion of Darren Shahlavi who stars as Kano in the Mortal Kombat: Legacy digital short that we covered here on Why So Blu.  Yes, he’s a very gifted martial artist who goes toe to toe with the rotund Seagal.  It was a pretty sweet fight!

Video 

Born to Raise Hell is presented in 1080p and has a  widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  Born to Raise Hell was shot in digital (I believe) and you can kind of tell.  During some of the scenes that pan fast or slow, there’s a bit of slight blurring to the image.  It’s a minor nuisance, but does not detract.  What it does succeed in doing is capturing the various flesh tones from all of the actors real nicely.  Seagal is obviously not a native Eastern European (and doesn’t live in that type of weather), so he’s flush with color.  Not too much, but he has a healthy dose of it.  The rest of the cast are obviously natives of the environment and it shows.  Their complexions match their surroundings, giving them that neutral non-shine.  Some of the scenes in the nightclubs with the crazy lighting also show up very well in high definition.  Blood and brain splatter show up very dark and muted when it hits the walls, but it’s a lovely red color during close-ups and fight scenes.  Blood fans will appreciate that.

Audio

Born to Raise Hell is presented in DTS -HD Master Audio 5.1.  This soundtrack packs a wallop.  I thought the police were kicking down my door!  Be VERY aware that almost every single character in this film, starring, supporting, and background, ALL seem to pack a shotgun.  Sometimes even two.  You will feel the kick, wood splinters, plaster from the wall, etc., from the buckshot.  I can assure you.  The audio guys went nuts on this sound mix, because  you will  feel every bone crunch as Seagal decimates people’s heads.  The LFE channel got some love on this release.  Dialogue does sound crisp, so don’t fear that Steven Seagal’s usual mumbling tone will be affected.  I heard him loud and clear.  The club music also bumps and so does the random gunfire along with the explosions that were mentioned earlier.

Special Features 

Nothing.

Final Thoughts 

Born to Raise Hell is a fun little flick that is sure to not win anything.  That’s okay.  It is a fun romp through some familiar throwback times when these type of films were big business back in the day.  If you’re in the mood to see Steven Seagal shoot and break some heads (literally) then I recommend you sample Born to Raise Hell on Blu-ray.

Order Born to Raise Hell on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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