Hard to Kill

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For the album by Gucci Mane, see Hard to Kill (album).
Hard to Kill
Hard To Kill.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bruce Malmuth
Produced by
Written by Steven McKay
Music by David Michael Frank
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Edited by John F. Fink
Lee Rich Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • February 9, 1990 (1990-02-09) (USA)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office
  • $47,410,827 (USA)
  • $48,915,430 (International)

Hard to Kill is a 1990 American action film directed by Bruce Malmuth, and starring Steven Seagal. Steven Seagal plays Detective Mason Storm, who falls into a coma after being shot during a fire-fight that killed his wife Felicia. He reawakens seven years later to find his son Sonny alive and seeks vengeance with the coma-ward nurse and his old partner.


Back in 1983, Mason Storm (Seagal) is a Los Angeles 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 and unaware of another pair of cops listening in, Mason informs first his partner, then his friend Lt. O'Malley (Coffin) that he has evidence of corruption, and will be bringing the tape to them soon. He goes into a store to get Champagne and a teddy bear to give to his son. The store is robbed, with one of the robbers shooting the clerk. Mason manages to stop them and afterwards goes home, intent on celebrating with his wife Felicia (Bonnie Burroughs).

At the house, Mason hides the tape in a small hole in his kitchen wall. When he goes upstairs, a hit squad composed of corrupt policemen, including Jack Axel (Charles 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 (Geoffrey Ian Bara), manages to hide until the danger passes. The corrupt policemen implicate Mason by planting drugs in his house and make it look like he murdered his wife and then committed suicide. At the same time, Storm's partner is shot in his apartment by other masked assassins. At the hospital, Mason is first pronounced dead, but is then discovered to be alive, although unconscious. To prevent the assasins from finishing the job, Lieutenant O'Malley tells the medics to keep it a secret that Mason is still alive.

Seven years later, Mason wakes from his coma. 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 (Charles Boswell) to the hospital to finish the job and kill the nurses to whom Mason might have talked. 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, she 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 recover his strength. While training, Mason hears a commercial for Senator Vernon Trent (Sadler) on television, who caps the 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 and even mocks Trent's phrase by saying "I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. To the blood bank!". Mason contacts O'Malley, who comes over with some weapons for him, and tells him 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 would 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 do not see each other, because as Mason arrives, O'Malley is already dead having been shot (by Max) after giving the tape to Andy for safe-keeping while providing a distraction for Sonny (Zachary Rosencrantz) to get away. When Mason arrives, he sees his son running away from Quentero and Nolan (James DiStephano), another corrupt cop, working for Trent. Mason catches up with the men, subdues Nolan by breaking his leg and throwing him in a trash bin and fights with Quentero. Mason beats up Quentero and recognizes him as one of the men who took part in the assault on Mason's home and the murder of his wife. Mason then proceeds to snap Quentero's neck, killing him and saving his son. Mason 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. Mason fights with Axel in the billiard room and avenges Felicia by jamming a piece of pool stick into Axel's neck, killing him. Next, Mason leaves a death taunt to Capt. Hulland (Andrew Bloch), a corrupt cop, who betrayed Storm to Trent. Mason stalks Hulland through the house and corners the corrupt captain near the fireplace. Mason then strangles him with his necktie, killing him as well and exclaiming: "Now you're a good cop.". 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 walks off as the image from the videotape is played, showing Trent coming out of the shadows briefly, wondering who it is that is taping him.

Original ending[edit]

Originally, the movie ended with Mason actually killing Trent, and some time later Mason, Andy and Sonny attend funeral for O'Malley. The theatrical trailer shows parts of original ending.



Warner Bros. demanded for movie to be heavily cut and re-edited down to 90 minutes long running time in order to be more straightforward and fast paced movie and to insure that it would have more theatrical screenings for better profit. Same type of re-editing also happened to other Seagal movies that he made for Warner Bros. Some scenes were cut while some others, including parts of the plot, were deleted, which is why movie suffers from bad editing in some parts. Some of the scenes which were deleted during re-editing are; Original opening scene between Storm and his wife and son, Trent's men interrogate and kill Andy's black nurse friend, longer deleted part of the movie where Storm's son Sonny is kidnapped by Trent's men but manages to escape, O'Malley's funeral scene, and more dialogue between characters in many other scenes. Ending in final version of the movie where Trent is arrested was actually alternate ending. In original ending, Storm kills Trent and says "Take that to the bank" phrase which Trent said throughout the movie.


The movie received mixed to negative reception.[1][2] It currently holds a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film cemented Seagal's status as the "Aikido action hero" due to the very esoteric, anachronistic techniques his character employs to overcome antagonists.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] (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.)

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at No. 12 at the box office.[3] It was a commercial success, making over $47 million in the US.


  1. ^ "Hard to Kill". Entertainment Weekly. 1990-02-23. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (1990-02-10). "Review/Film; Out of a Coma, Still Dapper and Disarming". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  3. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-02-13). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE `Kill' Opens Big; `Cannons,' `Stanley' Fade". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 

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