“And the Award Goes to …”: Steven Seagal’s Oscar-Worthy Moment in “Hard to Kill”

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Steven Seagal showing off his range of emotions.

Kevin: “Looks like you won the Oscar tonight Storm!” That’s what a fellow cop says to Steven Seagal’s character Mason Storm in “Hard to Kill,” after Storm has just killed or horribly maimed several gangbangers during an attempted convenience store robbery (the fact that the convenience store owner lies dead from a gunshot blast does not affect the jovial mood). There is actually quite a bit of Oscar talk at the beginning of “Hard to Kill,” which turns out to be fitting since his delivery of just one line later in the film should have assured Seagal a slot in that year’s Best Actor category.

Released in 1990 but initially taking place during the 1983 Oscar ceremony, “Hard to Kill” begins with Mason Storm secretly videotaping some dirty dealings involving William Sadler’s character Senator Vernon Trent, who likes to use the distinctive phrase “You can take that to the bank.” Although Storm is unaware of who he has on film, the bad guys are on to him and gun him and his wife down while in the act of lovemaking before Seagal could assuredly bring her to multiple orgasms. But as you may have gathered by now, Storm proves to be somewhat difficult to kill, and after seven years in a coma is awake and ready for revenge.

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Never let Steven Seagal house sit while you are away.

What follows is a long stretch where Storm shaves his Rip Van Winkle beard, lifts weights to get his muscles back, runs like a girl, and gets over the death of his wife incredibly quickly when given the chance to bone his nurse, played by Seagal’s real wife at the time, Kelly Le Brock from “Weird Science.”

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Any time you want to make fun of Steven Seagal, just remember he was married to Kelly Le Brock.

Eventually Storm starts doing the things we all watch a Seagal movie for: shooting bad guys, breaking arms in half, pulling grenades out of his pockets that seemingly came out of nowhere. But before he can do that he still has to figure out the identity of the man he caught on tape, which he finally does after catching a campaign commercial for the evil Sen. Trent in which he uses his distinctive “You can take that to the bank” catchphrase. The following scene would already feature some award-worthy pacing and approximation of “thinking” by Seagal while his character remembers previous snippets of dialogue, but it’s his delivery of the closing line that will forever cement his place in cinematic history:

Unfortunately the Academy did not agree, as the five Best Actor nominees that year were Richard Harris, Jeremy Irons, Kevin Costner, Gerard Depardieu, and Robert De Niro. Now perhaps they all might be better actors technically than Seagal, but can you imagine any of them delivering the line “I’m gonna take you to the bank Senator Trent … to the blood bank” with such unironic sincerity and intensity? He may not have taken home a statue in 1991, but every time I watch that scene Seagal will always be the real winner in my book.

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Steven Seagal as Anthony Hopkins in “Legends of the Fall”

PS: And just for the hell of it, here’s a young Steven Seagal demonstrating akido against a much smaller opponent on the “Merv Griffin Show”:

8 thoughts on ““And the Award Goes to …”: Steven Seagal’s Oscar-Worthy Moment in “Hard to Kill”

  1. I urge you to revisit that awesome trailer for a moment, at the 0:40 mark – now I’m the type of guy who usually misses a lot of details in the background, but holy cow watch Seagal’s buddy’s eyes involuntarily twitching and snapping shut as Seagal fires off those pistol rounds.

    It’s like someone wearing contact lenses having a mild seizure in the middle of a desert sandstorm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. as for the “blood bank” line – so fantastic that if you heard someone quoting it secondhand you’d naturally assume it was an early era Simpsons parody of a typical action movie one-liner.

    really seemed like he should have done something cooler after saying that line instead of passively sitting there on the edge of the bed (smash a mirror, break a cinder block!) You get the impression that if a friend had walked in on him at that particular moment he’d feel vaguely embarrassed about having been caught making audible threats to an empty room.

    Liked by 1 person

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