hard to solve

Hard to Kill

Hard to Kill, a 1990 action film directed by Bruce Malmuth and starring Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock, Frederick Coffin, 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 (Bonnie Burroughs) and son Sonny (Geoffrey Bara)... or so he thinks. He reawakens seven years later to find his son alive (now played by Zachary Rosencranz) and seeks vengeance with the coma-ward nurse (LeBrock) and his old partner (Coffin).

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 & 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, emphasising 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 that he has evidence of corruption (unaware of another pair of cops listening in), and will be bringing the tape to them soon. He then goes home, intent on celebrating with his wife. 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 (Charles Boswell) & Max Quentero (Branscombe Richmond), working for the politician break in and proceed to murder Mason's wife and shoot him. Mason's young son 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's 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.

Needing time to recuperate, Andy brings Mason to a friend's house, where Mason uses his knowledge of acupuncture, moxibustion and other meditation techniques to bring back his strength and train himself again. While training, Mason hears a commercial for Senator Vernon Trent on television, who caps his commercial with the phrase, "And you can take that to the bank!" Recognizing the voice, Mason now knows who he has to go after to get his revenge. Mason contacts O'Malley, who comes over with some weapons for Mason. O'Malley tells Mason that his son is still alive - O'Malley took Mason's son in and raised him, sending him to a private school so that he'd be out of danger. O'Malley then leaves. However, Senator Trent's men find the house where Mason and Andy are, and attempt to kill them, but Mason manages to get them both out again.

Mason then goes back to his old house. Posing as realtors looking to see if the house is one that can be put on the market, Mason breaks through the plaster in the kitchen to get the tape he hid. Mason then goes to meet O'Malley in a train station, where O'Malley brings Mason's now teenage son. They don't see each other, because as Mason arrives, O'Malley is already dead having been shot (by Max) while providing a distraction for Sonny to get away. When Mason arrives, he sees his son running away from two of the corrupt officers (recognising one as Max, who helped murder his wife). Mason catches up and saves his son. Mason gives the tape to Andy for safe-keeping, and decides to go after Senator Trent at his home.

At the Senator's mansion, Mason sneaks in and manages to take the Senator's men down one by one, including Jack Axel. Mason finally manages to confront Senator Trent, and holds him at gunpoint when the police storm the mansion. However, rather than arresting Mason, the police arrest Senator Trent and take him away. Mason is then reunited with Andy and his son, and walk off as the image from the video-tape is played, showing Trent coming out of the shadows briefly, wondering who it is that's taping him.


Actor Role
Steven Seagal Detective Mason Storm
Kelly LeBrock Dr. Andrea 'Andy' Stewart
William Sadler Senator Vernon Trent
Charles Boswell Jack Axel
Frederick Coffin Lt. Kevin O'Malley
Branscombe Richmond Max Quentero
Andrew Bloch Capt. Dan Hulland
James DiStefano Nolan
Dean Norris Det. Sgt. Goodhart
Jerry Dunphy Himself
Zachary Rosencrantz Sonny Storm
Robert LaSardo Punk
Geoffrey Bara Sonny at five

Memorable quotes

  • Mason Storm: "This is for my wife. Fuck you and die!"
  • Senator Vernon Trent: "You can take that to the bank!"
  • Mason Storm: "I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. To the blood bank!"
  • Mason Storm: "We're outgunned and undermanned but you know somethin'? We're gonna win. And I'll tell you why: Superior attitude. Superior state of mind."
  • Mason Storm: "Take your cue and die!"
  • Mason Storm: "I'm sorry, but I think your contractors are doing a lousy job. "
  • Mason Storm: (after shooting a sawed-off shotgun in the direction of Senator Trent's crotch) "What's this? I missed. I never miss. They must have been smaller than I thought."
  • Written on Toilet in Senator Trent's mansion: "Anticipation of death is worse than death itself."
  • Mason Storm: (After Killing Captain Hulland) "Now you're a good cop."

External links

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