Into the Sun (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Into the Sun is the latest in Steven Seagal's seemingly infinite series of straight-to-vid action pictures in which he works for or used to work for the CIA, loses one or more loved ones in some way, and incorporates stylized Asian fighting techniques into his revenge and/or rescue.

IMDb says he has made nine pictures in the new millennium, and this one is ranked in the top half.

  1. (5.29) - Exit Wounds (2001)
  2. (4.50) - Clementine (2004)
  3. (4.22) - Belly of the Beast (2003)
  4. (4.21) - Into the Sun (2005)
  5. (3.91) - Half Past Dead (2002)
  6. (3.53) - Out of Reach (2004)
  7. (3.34) - Ticker (2001)
  8. (3.27) - The Foreigner (2003)
  9. (3.09) - Out for a Kill (2003)

I have not seen Clementine but amazingly, I have seen all of the others, and I'd say that IMDb ranking gives a fair picture. Into the Sun is not as good as Exit Wounds, but is very comparable to Belly of the Beast in many ways, and is a better film than the others on the list. I was ready to write Big Steve off in mid-2003, but Seagal continues to make a pretty decent little comeback after his back-to-back 2003 disasters with director Hounddog Oblowitz (the two lowest rated films above).

There are some reasons why the Bulky Battler's career is recovering:

1. Belly of the Beast and Into the Sun take place in Asia. Seagal is genuinely interested in Asian cultures and languages, as well as their fighting styles, so he brings much more passion and personal interest to the Asian films than he does to his adventures in Eastern Europe.

2. Seagal is taking a bigger role in the production of these films. He received writing credits for Belly of the Beast and Into the Sun. That doesn't mean that he sat down and wrote the screenplays, but he did get sufficiently involved to create a situation and a storyline that was appropriate for him, thus allowing him to do what he does best. On the other hand, Seagal may have overdone the hands-on approach a bit for Into the Sun. It seems that Steve the Beefy Battler and Steve the Weighty Writer were also joined by Steve the Stout Singer and Steve the Copious Composer in this film. Yup, no kidding - Seagal actually wrote and performed four songs on the soundtrack!

3. He is doing the kinds of fight scenes which obviate the need for a body double. By keeping the action restricted to close hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, Seagal is able to do all the work, so the scenes can flow naturally, and the director can do his job. Big Steve still has fast hands, and he looks mighty impressive with those swords. In some of the earlier films, with more full-body fighting and footwork, the transitions between the Pudgy Paladin and his stand-in were clumsy, or there were too many blue-screen tricks, and the fight scenes flowed strangely, stilted by the fact that "Seagal's" head had to be missing from some takes, or that Seagal and the bad guy were not actually in the room together!

4. He may even have dropped a few pounds. His chin count is definitely down to the low single figures. As much as I hate to lose so much of my Seagal schtick, I have to admit that the big fella is not as big. Seagal definitely looks trimmer and moves better than he did a couple of years ago.

5. Production values are improving. This film is reputed to have cost $20 million, and that may be so, although I have no idea how one may recover such an amount with a straight-to-video release. There is, for example, an action scene with six elephants and a helicopter, and there are also lots of dizzying helicopter shots of Tokyo. It does not look cheap, and the Tokyo street scenes are gorgeous.

So my hat is off to the Chubby Commando for grabbing his career by the horns and taking personal control of it. I don't know if he's going to make it back into theatrical releases, but the quality of his video offerings is definitely on the rise. If you like his brand of Asian gangster pictures, this is a pretty decent one.

Not that there aren't some good things to make fun of:

There's continuity, for example. These images are actually cropped from adjacent frames in the film. Notice any problem?

What happened to the message scrawled in black magic marker?

If the director had cut away to a picture of Seagal (the author of the letter) staring off into the middle distance, then cut back to Atherton here, I might never have noticed, but ... adjoining frames? How could I miss it? I know that both characters worked for the CIA. Maybe the message was written in disappearing ink. On the other hand, in that case I'm not sure why Atherton kept reading from it after it disappeared!

And then there's the dialogue. Check this shit out ...

Woo-hoo! Ten thousand dollars! Tokyo is mine! Mua-ha-ha-ha! (Raise pinky to lips.)

Ten thousand dollars in Tokyo won't buy them a decent steak dinner.

And then there is the DVD box. I swear to you, that scene on the left has absolutely nothing to do with this movie.

Looks cool. May have happened in another film. Not in this one.

The colorful scene on the right might have made a cool cover for THIS film's DVD, especially since the director went to the trouble of getting it all framed and symmetrical.

Finally, there is the plot. The CIA has to figure out how Kuroda, a Yakuza boss, is getting heroin around Tokyo. Gee, let me think. He runs a fish company called the Kuroda Fish Company, and they deliver stuff all around Tokyo. OK. I'm ready to make my guess ...

... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Kuroda the crime boss delivers his stuff around Tokyo in the trucks marked "Kuroda".

The regular and special CIA agents were not able to figure this out. I guess they figured that since Kuroda carted fish around in a truck marked with his name and a fish symbol, he would cart heroin around in a truck marked with his name and a poppy. Those foolish Westerners! Will they never understand the subtlety of the Asian mind?

Luckily, the cultural virgins were able to call in the Stout Swordsman, a certain pony-tailed super special agent who grew up in Tokyo, and the big man duped it all out with his intimate knowledge of Asian cultures.

Of course, before the Fleshy Fencer could bring the baddies to justice, they had killed his sensei, his fiancée, and his partner, but ... well ... those are the sacrifices one must make for straight-to-video honor.



  • No features except theatrical trailers, but
  • the transfer is excellent, and is anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 screens.


  • There are three topless mermaids swimming around in the background of a scene.
  • Juliette Marquis shows her bum.
  • Kanako Tamaguchi shows one breast in a very modest, passion-free sex scene with the Blubbery Belligerent.
  • some other woman shows most of her buns in a tattoo parlor

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews on file

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C- or a C. It's a passable genre watch as an Asian gangster flick and, in fact, it's quite excellent for a direct-to-vid.

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