Today is my 15th 1-900-HOTDOG Punching Day article, and according to Punching Day tradition, this is the anniversary where I give you, my lover, the gift of Kill Switch. Kill Switch is, of course, the 2008 direct-to-video “action” movie “starring” Steven Seagal. You will fucking hate me for it, which is perfectly in line with our hot dog traditions.
There is no academic framework to discuss the Steven Seagality of a film with this much Steven Seagality. It’s as if a moderator showed a focus group three hours of a fat man taking a nap, asked them to describe what they didn’t like about it, and Steven Seagal mistook their notes for an action-thriller script. Kill Switch is something that would get an Uzbek father to say, “The death of your mother saddens me, but this is an adequate Steven Seagal parody you have made in a weekend, my impoverished children.” Explaining everything hilariously, Steven Seagalably wrong with Kill Switch before the last of our civilization burns down will be impossible, so I’m going to focus on the stunts— the one element in this film that never, at any time had anything to do with Steven Seagal. It might be myopic enough I can get out of here in less than 20,000 words.
You’re going to think I’m kidding, but this movie opens with Steven Seagal, Memphis homicide detective, investigating a woman who has a bomb planted in her boob. He knows the bomber is in one of the nearby apartments watching, so he goes inside it. I’m not leaving anything out. He immediately walks into the unlocked door of the apartment containing the villain. There’s a timer on the titty bomb, so even in the fiction of this universe what he’s doing isn’t possible. It’s like a scene you would write if the only book you’ve ever read was half a Steven Seagal movie.
It’s so embarrassingly stupid it would land like a mean-spirited joke if the editor chose this moment of peak absurdity to put the “Written by” credit.
Oh, fuck. Oh, Jesus fuck. Do you see what I mean now about how we’re never getting out of here if I’m going to talk about every deranged detail of Kill Switch? Steven Seagal wrote a movie where he plays a genius serial killer hunter. So he walks right in, growls a one-liner too wordy and stupid to repeat, and just beats the fuck out of him. Steven’s stuntman makes his first of many appearances to choke the guy, smash his head into a wall, and fireman’s carry him into generously explosive furniture. This exact sequence of moves repeats, without exaggeration, seven more times. The fight choreographer knew one attack Steven Seagal could do without moving, and two that hid his stuntman’s face, and it’s a true inspiration to the stupid that he was able to fill ten minutes of a fight scene knowing nothing else.
Steven Seagal’s brain is made entirely out of action movie cliches, so in his script, the bomb squad calls him during the fight to say they have the titty bomb wires narrowed down to two. He beats the bomber until he confesses which wire to cut, but Seagal tells them to cut the other one. He was right. He saved… oh my god, ha ha I just now realized the first thing Steven Seagal wrote was the hero, himself, using torture to literally rescue the tits of a nameless damsel character. Ha ha ha that’s so goddamn ridiculous. Ha I just realized how often this happens. Ha ha ha ha noticing shit like this all the time must be why feminist critics are always having so much fun.
Anyway, Steven Seagal goes to arrest the suspect, who we’ve established has no chance in a fight against him, has implicitly confessed to an act of terror, and has already been beaten mostly to death. The writer of this movie, Steven Seagal, decided this character would scream, “Fuck you!” and attack. So Seagal kicks him out the window. I swear, I didn’t edit this animated gif. This is precisely how Steven Seagal’s Kill Switch chose to edit this scene and how it appears in the final cut:
What the fuck kind of filmmaking decision is this? That’s, what, eleven times he went out the same window? Why? For what reason? They only shot it from three angles. Was it a mistake? Is he a time traveler sending Morse code? Did the editor hear “It’s working, but one ain’t seem like enough– I want at least ten of these defenestrations,” when Steven Seagal actually mumbled, “Workin’ on a new blues song called ‘Ain’t Enough, and Dat’s Not De End of Mah Pizza Frustrations.'”
What happens next is maybe more crazy. Steven obviously has to say some kind of one-liner after a thing like this. A man falling out a window lends itself to virtually unlimited wordplay. Guess he had a flight to catch. He shoulda taken the stairs. Cleanup aisle DEAD. You might fuck like Peter Pan, but you sure ain’t fly like him, baby. Sorry, dead guy, but I’m insecure about my age and obesity. Flight pants? More like regular pants, dumbass. But instead of any of these perfectly acceptable choices, Seagal says, and I quote, “Hey. Looks like he got da hiccups. Somebody get that guy a glass of watah.”
So wait, wait. No, wait. He’s referencing the guy jump-cutting back and forth through time? Does this mean Steven Seagal can… see the movie? I know it sounds nuts, but hear me out. After he delivers this exit line, to the amusement of no character or viewer, the scene doesn’t end. The camera stays on him, he looks around in frustration, and he lets out an audible “buuuuhhhhh.” For homicide detective Jacob “Lightnin'” King, recent titty rescuer, it makes no sense. But for writer/performer Steven Seagal, who can see how badly this movie is turning out, it’s a very appropriate reaction.
Oh my god, we’re 1000 words in and we’re only just now starting Stunt TWO? I knew this was going to happen. Luckily, the second big stunt of the movie is the serial killer asking a prostitute to help him put a baby into a car seat when this happens:
For context, this is the serial killer in a battle of wits with Steven Seagal, who is completing some kind of moon ritual with his murders. He taunts Seagal with mysterious astrological codes carved into the bodies, so they call him “The Grifter,” a name not really related to what he does or the things he’s into.
Steven Seagal is the kind of man who writes “EXT. NIGHT– THE GRIFTER bludgeons PROSTITUTE #4 with a toy baby, instantly killing her. She thought it was a real baby, which was a grift, The Grifter’s signature activity.” But he’s apparently also the kind of man who forgets things, so when her body arrives at the morgue, the coroner describes her death, which you’ve seen in its entirety, as a long and painful punishment. Kill Switch‘s writer wisely knew it was a medical examiner’s job to make wild, elaborate conclusions about the personality and intent of an attacker from each of his victim’s injuries.
While he’s at the coroner’s, fucking up the plot of his own movie over the topless corpse of a baby-murdered prostitute, Steven Seagal finds a symbol carved behind her ear. It’s a big help in decoding The Grifter’s secret code, which a nerdy seven-year-old might recognize as a substitution cypher, or the kind of cryptography you’d expect to find on a box of Honey Combs. It’s the codemaster’s equivalent of putting your email in Wingdings font. Still, it lets him finish translating a message in a second, unrelated code he… wait a second. Let’s zoom in on this code.
Are you sure that’s right, Steven Seagal? I only read one of The Da Vinci Code books, but you have “Omega, 9, H Fucking Cantalope, Triangle, M Holding Spear, and another H Fucking Cantalope” meaning both “AT THE EDGE OF” and “IS THE TRUE.” You might want to have your prop guy take another pass at that. Oh, damn it. I thought I would only be telling you “the killer’s outrageously silly murder weapon was a fake baby,” and here I am making fun of Steven Seagal’s code-breaking skills.
Steven Seagal goes to a bar where they recognize him from TV as the homicide detective investigating the murder of their friend. Then they, and I promise I’m not leaving anything out, attack him. Several men take turns trying to punch him in the face which causes the movie to speed up right before they jump into the nearest breakable object. This happens a few more times, in exactly the same way, until one of the guys gets the idea to murder this cop with a broken bottle. There’s only one problem.
He can’t hit him! He’s aiming at a 380 pound target and about 30 of those pounds are rattling pill bottles for his angina, back, reflux, and penis. He stabs and slashes, but can’t seem to get the broken bottle anywhere near the barely moving blob taking up half his bar. It goes on like this forever, and Seagal seems almost bored with it. His jacket pockets contain so many notes from his doctor to stay off his knees he knows a glass knife could never penetrate it.
You might notice the abrupt change in Steven Seagal’s figure and hair when they’re filming him from behind. That’s because Steven Seagal not only doesn’t do his own stunts, he doesn’t even do his own fretting and wiggling anymore. If you have a keen eye you can tell when his double is doing the slight waddling because he’s a third Steven’s size and age, and he’s wearing a Princess Jasmine wig instead of two cans of spray-on hair.
That isn’t to say Steven Seagal has given up martial arts completely. They often edit in shots of him waving his hands or looking cranky into these shots of different men missing each other. For instance, here’s a fight where Steven did his own backhand slap, but had his stuntman perform the much more dangerous elbow strike from a diner bench. No matter what country he’s filming in, there are strict union rules about Steven Seagal performing near food. Bratva Cleanmoney Productions lost an entire day of shooting when Steven found a wedding cake on the set of Killed to the Death 2: Geoff Gets Married.
Even in his prime, Steven Seagal ran like a Tyrannosaurus losing control of its hula hoop. Now that he’s an elderly man hiding his mass under a two-person centaur costume, the idea of filming him in a rush is unthinkable. So whenever he’s hurrying, the film replaces his movement with flashes of him teleporting across the screen. So when he’s in a chase scene it abruptly changes from a film about a cop chasing a killer to a stop motion animation about the ghost of a rock n’ roll pig haunting the dark alleys of Memphis, Tennessee. As with the others, I did not edit this gif in any way. This is from the actual final cut of Steven Seagal’s Kill Switch.
I did not count the misses in Kill Switch, but it’s definitely a contender for the most inaccurate gun fighting outside of a G.I. JOE cartoon. Steven Seagal and his enemies stand still and empty clip after clip into nothing. Normally the editor puts these shots together one after another to create what any artist would interpret as a brilliant commentary on the pointless, endless cycle of violence. But when Seagal and The Grifter have their shootout, it becomes a dreamlike sequence where two lazy men can’t hit fucking shit with their guns. They miss in hallways where each of them is the only thing for a bullet to go into. Steven Seagal’s bullets are the same as his hairline — fake, and smeared all over the wrong spots by a fat idiot.
The Grifter escapes 200 clips worth of Steven Seagal bullets and hides. After Steven runs past, he knocks him down with a pipe and walks over to give a villain speech. He doesn’t hold him at gunpoint or tie him up, or have him at any disadvantage really, so the movie does something unpredictable — nothing dumb. Steven simply grabs the much smaller man who can’t fight and fucking bashes the face off his skull with ham fists.
He does this for minutes. He is mauling this tiny man, bringing all his weight onto his chin again and again. It is nothing other than twenty fist murders placed end-to-end. A UFC fan watching this next to a wife with two black eyes would be pleading for someone to stop this savage, ceaseless beating. But The Grifter uses the one move Steven Seagal has no defense against — leaving at a mildly brisk pace. Look, I wish we lived in a world that made sense too, but this movie was written by Steven Seagal and his assistant transcribed, “After takin’ 1,000 unanswered super punches from Aikido punchin’ master, Jacob Lightnin’ King, Da Griftah get up an’ he jus’ sorta walk away.“
Don’t worry, though! The Grifter drops his wallet during his casual escape. Plus, Seagal recently learned he managed the house band at a bar where everyone knows him as a local celebrity named Lazarus who opened fire on a cop in front of several hundred witnesses, but with ‘dis wallet? Murda police Jacob King might have what he need to crack ‘dis case wide open, pardnah. You know, I guess I shoulda mentioned by now — Steven Seagal, he be doin’ a Cajun accent ‘dis whole movie, baby.
At The Grifter’s serial killer murder house, Seagal finds a star map that corresponds to Memphis hotspots. With it, he easily predicts his next kill and goes there to slap and shove him for several minutes. I have no idea if you will believe me or even believed me any of those other times, but this is the actual final fight scene from Steven Seagal’s Kill Switch.
There has never been a main character in less danger than Steven Seagal in a Steven Seagal movie, but this villain is especially hopeless. The debris gently brushing up against Seagal’s elbow in that gif is the cleanest shot Grifter lands the entire fight. It has all the tension of a Garfield reader worried the lasagna might win.
Hold on, that wasn’t the real final fight! Billy Joe, the titty bomb guy from earlier is back! The Supreme Court, after twoish days, has dismissed his case because of all the police brutality. I think the writer, Steven Seagal, doesn’t know a lot about court proceedings, and also may have injected some of his personal politics into the story because when his partner hears about the court’s decision he says, “That animal should be put to death!” And then, to prove himself right, he wrote, “BILLY JOE stab his own lawyer to death in da car ride from prison. Dat animal ain’t even wait five minute to kill again. CUT TO: He at Jacob’s house and he stab Jacob’s girlfriend to death too. Lord have mercy.“
It’s weird for Steven Seagal, a known source of sex crimes, to embrace this kind of “Criminals need to be put down” moral objectivism, but anyway, after batting around the serial killer for 40 minutes, Detective King has to spend the denoument avenging his girlfriend’s murder. Sorry I never mentioned her — he barely paid attention to this girlfriend character in two scenes totally unrelated to the plot and 100% doesn’t give a shit she’s dead.
Like each of the other fights, this one features a helpless but durable man getting shoved through things. Jacob breaks every piece of furniture in his house with Titty Bomber’s flying body until he finally pulls out a knife and stands chest-to-chest with him for a gentleman’s stab missing contest. It’s silly beyond reason, but I think this is what it looks like when 2008 Steven Seagal gives a fight scene his best effort. Look at these bobs and weaves!
He is the unslashable. Steven Seagal moves with all the speed and grace of a woman trying to watch Bones with a grandson on her lap.
With ten minutes to go in the movie, there’s a sudden subplot where an FBI agent thinks Steven Seagal is the serial killer, so he leaves town to go back to his… wait — his never-before-mentioned Russian family? So the dead girl in his house… he was cheating on his wife with her this whole movie? Anyway, his sudden Russian wife sends their kids away and strips naked. The whole thing is the flimsiest excuse I’ve ever witnessed to see tits, and I own 17 VHS tapes on how to breastfeed. Did he maybe get a tax break for giving a topless part to Putin’s niece? I guess in a way, beginning and ending your movie with unnecessary titties has a kind of poetry to it. No one gives Steven Seagal, sex criminal, enough credit as a writer.
I know this isn’t a stunt, but I’m not going to make this gif of Steven Seagal nodding at a naked lady and keep it to myself. Please enjoy:
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, Yannis Ioannidis: the Steven Seagal’s stuntman of lovers.