DVD Review: Deadly Crossing (aka True Justice: Deadly Crossing)

Directed By Keoni Waxman
Starring Steven Seagal, Warren Christie, Meghan Ory, Sarah Lind and Gil Bellows


If you’ve ever wanted a version of CSI Miami where, instead of David Caruso solving crimes and breaking out cringeworthy one-liners, Horatio Caine were played by Steven Seagal and simply snapped the wrists of every perp remotely connected to the case before pummelling them into the concrete, then Deadly Crossing is for you.

You see, though it’s marketed as another in Seagal’s barrage of direct-to-DVD action films, Deadly Crossing is actually the feature-length two-part pilot for Seagal’s yet-to-be-aired police procedural TV show True Justice. There’s no mention of it anywhere in the publicity material, but little attempt has been made to disguise it during the film itself, which comes complete with flashy TV cop drama opening credit sequence, “Part 1/Part 2 Written By…” credits and “Deadly Crossing” slapped on below “True Justice” as a subtitle. It’s important to note the distinction; as a standalone film, Deadly Crossing is too subdued and awkwardly paced to be satisfying for those expecting Seagal’s usual lean-plotted, kill-a-minute movie hijinks, but as the first entry in a larger series, it’s every bit as enjoyable as any episode of CSI Miami, though perhaps for the wrong reasons.
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Seagal stars as Elijah Kane, the chief of an elite crew of undercover cops working for the Seattle sheriff’s department, who divides his time between dispensing sage advice, polishing his samurai sword and relieving suspects of full limb mobility. His team are apparently the best at what they do, which doesn’t bode well for the safety of Seattle, since each undercover operation usually just ends in covers being blown and cops getting injured before Kane steps in to shatter the carpal bones of anyone nearby. As they welcome a new recruit (Sarah Lind) into the fold, their latest case – a double murder in a family convenience store – leads them down a path of Cajun drug runners, dirty cops and ruthless Russian mobsters.

For all intents and purposes, it’s CSI: Seattle – an easily distinguishable group of attractive, but bland cops squatting over evidence at crime scenes and plenty of swooping, stylish establishing twilight shots of the city. For the past decade, though the TV schedules have been utterly swamped with interchangeable police procedurals, many gain a pass because they snag an interesting character actor or established star to head the series and elevate it beyond its derivative trappings. Take The Mentalist, for example – a distinctly average cop drama made immensely enjoyable by an insanely fun and utterly charismatic lead performance from Simon Baker.
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Deadly Crossing/True Justice takes a vaguely similar stance, using Seagal as the hook for an otherwise cookie-cutter cop show. Sure, he’s not remotely as charismatic or talented an actor as Baker, but there’s a distinct charm to Seagal’s ‘aikido solves everything’ brand of no-nonsense crime solving that helps distance the show from the influx of other police dramas at the moment.

I’m biased of course, having grown up watching Seagal dismantle people on film, but it’s always incredibly fun to see him demolish a room of bad guys without a care in the world. If you’re a fan of the guy, while he’s not as fun as in his Machete appearance, he’s more on form than in recent years, not resorting to sleeping in his trailer while other people dub his lines and perform his fight scenes (though the action is occasionally sullied and obscured by murky editing). Or if you relish CSI: Miami purely for the cheesy scenery-chewing of David Caruso, you’ll likely enjoy Seagal’s scenes for much the same reasons. The sheer hilarity of Elijah Kane taking the time to unnecessarily twist and crack every limb of every suspect before cuffing and booking them is glorious, as is the fact that Seagal’s character is inexplicably a magnet for fawning supermodels and takes to calling everyone “whiteboy” despite being a Caucasian man himself.
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Unfortunately, he’s merely a supporting player in a wider ensemble, and while Seagal’s scenes usher in a welcome level of overly violent B-Movie action cheese, for the vast majority of the runtime the show/film focuses on the rest of the team, a pack of charisma-free bores grabbed from central casting. They’re aggressively bland token stereotypes – the brash, roguish renegade (Warren Christie), the level-headed black guy (William “Bigsleeps” Stewart), the tough chick (Meghan Ory) and the newbie (Sarah Lind) – and every scene they occupy is one that’s painfully dull and hopelessly indistinguishable from every other C-grade cop show, from plot to performance.

Seagal fans will undoubtedly already have this on their Christmas list and likely won’t be disappointed. As long as you expect a relatively self-contained feature-length TV pilot rather than a full-fledged film, there’s more than enough intermittent aikido smackdown fun with the Sensei to keep things entertaining, and it’s free from much of the production laziness evident in his DTV flicks. Unfortunately though, his screentime is painfully brief and the scenes inbetween are competent, but rather dull TV fare; despite the marketing, it’s less ‘The Steven Seagal Show’ and more ‘Generic Cop Show #457, also starring Steven Seagal’. Still, in Deadly Crossing Seagal shatters the skeleton of Ally McBeal star Gil Bellows – if that’s a sign that he’s working his way up to killing Calista Flockhart in a sequel (or in real life), then this is probably a series worth sticking with.
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On the DVD:

A huge visual step up from the cheap direct-to-DVD movies Seagal has been churning out over the past few years, Deadly Crossing adopts that slick, stylish look that every other police procedural opts for. The 1.78:1 DVD transfer looks spotless and attractive and there’s the usual choice of 5.1 audio or Stereo 2.0 tracks (no subtitles are included).

Unfortunately though, a great A/V transfer is all the disc offers, as there aren’t any special features included.

The Film:

The DVD:




Deadly Crossing is available to buy on DVD in the UK on 27th December 2010.
Click here to pre-order it from Play.com.