Hard to Kill

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Hard to Kill, a 1990 action film directed by Bruce Malmuth and starring Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock, Frederick Coffin and William Sadler. The film stars Seagal as Detective Mason Storm, who is shot into a coma in the same fire-fight that kills his wife Felicia and son Sonny. He reawakens seven years later to find his son alive and seeks vengeance with the coma-ward nurse and his old partner.

This film cemented Seagal's status as the "Aikido" action hero, due to the very esoteric, anachronistic techniques his character employs to overcome antagonists. For example "knee-walking" while in seiza (正座, literally "correct sitting") is employed to navigate a convenience store aisle without exposing the head to gunfire; this has origins in culturally-mandated etiquette, specific to pre-Meiji Japan and during some traditional arts such as the tea ceremony and Ikebana. (Robert Twigger's book Angry White Pyjamas mentions the story of a Japanese police officer, and aikido trainee, using knee-walking in a similar fashion during a gunfight.)



Mason Storm (Seagal) is a police detective who is investigating a mob meeting taking place by a pier. He spies on them with a video camera, and captures on tape a shadowy figure telling the other people that they can rely on his political support, emphasizing this by saying "And you can take that to the bank!" Storm is spotted, but manages to get away. Driving home, Mason informs first his partner then his friend Lt. O'Malley (Coffin) that he has evidence of corruption (unaware of another pair of cops listening in), and will be bringing the tape to them soon. He goes into a store to get drink and a teddy bear to give to his son. The store gets robbed by men, one of them shooting the clerk. Mason manages to stop them; afterwards, he goes home, intent on celebrating with his wife Felicia (Bonnie Burroughs). Before he does anything, Mason hides the tape in a small hole in his kitchen wall. When he goes upstairs, though, corrupt policemen, including Jack Axel (Boswell) and Max Quentero (Richmond), working for the politician break in and proceed to murder Mason's wife and shoot him. Mason's young son Sonny, (Bara) manages to hide until the danger passes (at the same time, Storm's partner is shot by a masked assassin whilst seated beside his window). At the hospital, Mason is found to be alive, but in a coma. Lieutenant O'Malley informs the medics to tell people that Mason died, to prevent anyone from coming back for him later. Mason is set up by the corrupt policemen as having murdered his wife and committed suicide.

Seven years later, Mason wakes up from his coma, having spent all this time in the hospital. Andy (LeBrock), one of the two nurses monitoring him makes a phone call, which is intercepted by one of the corrupt police officers who want to see Mason dead. They send Jack Axel to the hospital to finish the job and kill the nurses whom Mason might have talked to. Mason realizes that he is still in danger, but his muscles have atrophied to where he can barely use his arms. He manages to get himself to an elevator, and when Andy sees her colleagues killed, helps Mason escape from the hospital.

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