Andrej Bartkowiak’s Exit Wounds

Exit Wounds is one action flick in an unofficial yet unmistakable early 2000’s trilogy together with Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave. What do they have in common, you may ask, that I’ve dubbed them a trilogy? Besides all three being directed by lo-fi action guru Andrej Bartkowiak and sharing many of the same cast members in a sort of recognizable posse, they just have this intangible time capsule vibe backed by hip hop music of the times from folks like Aaliyah and DMX, the presence of standup comedians in supporting roles, ridiculous plots built around endless set pieces and are just so totally ‘of their time’ that I love them on sheer novelty value alone. One day I’ll have to do a longer, more comprehensive piece on all three as a whole but I just rewatched Wounds for the first time in a while and it’s just as goddamn silly yet awesome as I remember it being when I was a teenager. It does feature Steven Seagal in a comeback of sorts, purged of his ponytailed zen phase and ready for some inner city urban destruction. He’s actually really dope as rogue detective Orin Boyd, a tough but reckless cop that no precinct seems to want as he has this uncanny knack for sniffing out and laying the hammer down on department corruption. After being fired by his former sergeant (Bruce McGill turning up the ham) for excessive force he’s assigned to a precinct elsewhere in Detroit under the command of a tough as nails CO played by the lovely Jill Hennessy. It isn’t long before he finds trouble again, tangles with mysterious drug runner DMX and uncovers a cabal of dirty officers doing no good shit headed up by Michael Jai White who is welcome in any film in my book. I can’t say the same for Tom Arnold though, who has to be one of *the most* irritating onscreen presences and I’m not sure why they keep letting him be in stuff but life is full of mysteries I guess. Anthony Anderson shows up as he does in all three in this trilogy and there’s appearances from Isaiah Washington m, Bill Duke and a very young Eva Mendes. This film only really has a plot to service action set pieces, which are all well done and exciting if you can get over the fact that there ain’t much else it has to offer. Seagal is good though and does some impressive stunt work like doing a fucking Olympic long jump thing over a car that’s speeding towards him. Fun stuff, but I’d recommend the other two in the trilogy first.

-Nate Hill

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