Video wonder Steven Seagal was looking good there for a while. His last bone-cruncher, Hard to Kill, had exciting fight scenes and a plot just silly enough to be good dumb fun. But now comes the shoddy, meanspirited Marked for Death, a giant step back to moron movies for the ponytailed palooka.
Seagal's John Hatcher is a DEA agent who retires from the force only to find a Jamaican drug posse, led by a voodoo priest named Screwface, taking over his suburban town. So he and some friends kill them. That's the plot. It's not even Good versus Bad so much as Bad versus Worse. The screenwriters, Michael Grais and Mark Victor, probably thought they were avoiding racism by making Hatcher's two pals black, but the villains are the most gratuitously ''eeeevil'' Rasta cartoons imaginable Stepin Fetchits with dreadlocks. As for Seagal, he's looking a bit beefy here, and his attention seems elsewhere, especially in the love scene with Joanna Pacula. Not that there's much emotional material for him to sink his teeth into. In Marked for Death's climactic showdown, Screwface says to Hatcher, ''I know you: You love de killin', but you is an empty shell inside.'' In the loopy world of Steven Seagal, this seems like a compliment. D