Steven Seagal and Thunderbox

The Ferry, Glasgow, Tue 16 Jan


Marked for Death, Above the Law and Hard to Kill are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best in action trash starring the pony-tailed martial arts master Steven Seagal. Hard, dark and brutal are his trademarks with the odd side serving of environmentalism and a dash of Buddhism. He may be king of the straight-to-video action blockbuster, but his latest venture involves picking up the guitar and heading for the treacherous slopes marked ‘actor-turned-musician’.

‘For most of them there’s a reason they’re not taken seriously, but for me I started playing with a lot of great blues legends,’ explains big Steve down the phone line from Portland, where he’s filming his latest motion picture (‘a revenge movie’). ‘I’ve been doing it all my life and it’s documentable. I can document playing with Albert Collins, Albert King and Lightnin’ Hopkins, going way, way back. I played music first, I started acting much later in my life. So I’m not worried about that, the music takes care of itself.’

There’s an almost David Hasselhoff appeal to Seagal’s place in popular culture, this gig selling out sharpish, he comes across as almost identical to his on screen persona, gruff and straight to the point. Like all iconic figures it’s his total conviction that is remarkable, he lives as the character he has created. His knowledge of martial arts isn’t just for the movies, he’s a fully committed master of Aikido and a leader in his field. Having spent many years in Japan he’s absorbed the culture and lives by its ethos. A devout Buddhist, he’s bizarrely been confirmed as a reincarnation of a Buddhist Lamma by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. He’s even used his position to further environmental issues through the medium of action movies (see On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below). There’s no room for jokes in Seagal’s world, if he’s committing himself to music, it’s not a step he’s taken lightly.

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