Shadow Man (2006) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Here's a tip for you youngsters who want to be international terrorists: do NOT kidnap any members of Steven Seagal's family.

Here's a tip for you ministers of tourism: do not grant a tourist visa to any members of Seagal's family, just on the odd chance they may be kidnapped. When Seagal gains his revenge on the baddies, there is a lot of collateral damage!

This time the Beefy Battler is in Bucharest with his daughter. He plays, as always, a man with a mysterious background in special ops or black ops or some kind of stuff so double-secret that even Dean Wormer doesn't know about it. As always, the espionage is behind him now and he's trying to live a mainstream life as a CEO and cuddly family man. The only reason he's in Romania is to visit a grave. As always, the only woman he has ever loved is dead. Steven Seagal's very presence represents a very economical device for a screenwriter because his characters always have the same back-story, so minimal exposition is required - and little is offered, given the fact that Seagal is also a screenwriter.

This time around, Seagal's father-in-law plants some kind of top secret device on him, making the Weighty Warrior an unwitting mule for a lab-created virus which evil CIA operatives are going to smuggle from the USA. Their plan is to auction it off at the annual convention of purely evil super-baddies, the various rapscallions and ne'er-do-wells who want to destroy all life on the planet.

Kinda like oil company executives.

The main baddies are not Mobil/Exxon execs but Russian mobsters (I think), and they foolishly think they can gain leverage on the Fleshy Fighter by kidnapping his daughter, or killing her, or something. The baddies seem kind of confused, to tell you the truth, because during half the film they are pursuing the Tubby Tiger for the secret virus they presume to be somewhere on his person, while they use the other half of their time trying to blow him up, which would also presumably destroy what they are seeking. Actually, this apparent conflict may be a result of the fact that the various baddies are not working in concert. Some of them just want to steal the virus so they can sell it back to the other baddies, or anyone else who will bid more. The Russkies receive assistance and/or competition from various treasonous American agents and diplomats, as well as the entire corrupt police force of Bucharest. The police force also employs all taxi drivers as paid informants, and the cops inform Seagal of this, but that doesn't stop the Chubby Commando from taking taxis throughout the film, thus keeping the rotten police apprised of his every movement. (A master of stealth, that lad!)

It doesn't really matter that the Big-Bellied Battler has to fight against overwhelming odds and a confusing array of baddies with indeterminate motives. He just wants his daughter back, and you know it's gonna get ugly for those in his way. Let's just say that by the time the Doughy Doughboy gets the adorable ragamuffin back, Bucharest is going to have to hire a whole new police force. Not to mention several construction crews.

My favorite scene: a traitorous American agent locks an unarmed Seagal inside a supposed "safe house" which is actually a death trap with bricked-up windows and doors. Several baddies of indeterminate origin, clearly bent on exterminating Seagal, show up with automatic weapons. The Stout Sensei should be dead meat in this situation, but the evil agent had made the mistake of trapping Seagal in a house filled with ordinary household materials. Seagal is able to fashion some deadly weapons using the pipes beneath the sink, a Mr. Coffee machine, a ball of twine, a frozen Hungry Man seafood dinner, an old-fashioned Victrola, a scratched Mel Tormé record, and a thimbleful of Clorox. Unfortunately, these weapons are so powerful that he not only knocks out the baddies but also destroys an entire city block in Bucharest, the first of many which will be razed before the film is over. By the time the Stocky Samurai is finished with his makeshift weapons, the United Nations has had to call a special session to declare that the Velvet Fog's records have been reclassified from Category Three Kitsch to Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In the film's final scene, the Pudgy Paladin rewards his daughter for being a very brave little girl while she was held by the agents of pure evil, and for always remembering to put toilet paper over the entire seat before doing a pee-pee at Pure Evil Headquarters.

He buys her a pony.

I didn't make that up.

His fans seem to think this is one of the better Seagal films. It has earned his highest IMDb rating since 2001's Exit Wounds.

  1. (6.19) - Executive Decision (1996)
  2. (6.09) - Under Siege (1992)
  3. (5.25) - Get Bruce (1999)
  4. (5.09) - Exit Wounds (2001)
  5. (5.09) - Above the Law (1988)
  6. (4.99) - Out for Justice (1991)
  7. (4.89) - Marked for Death (1990)
  8. (4.80) - Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)
  9. (4.79) - Hard to Kill (1990)
  10. (4.77) - Shadow Man (2006) (V)
  11. (4.70) - The Glimmer Man (1996)
  12. (4.69) - My Giant (1998)
  13. (4.40) - Mercenary for Justice (2006) (V)
  14. (4.39) - The Path Beyond Thought (2001) (V)
  15. (4.30) - Belly of the Beast (2003)
  16. (4.11) - Into the Sun (2005)
  17. (4.10) - Half Past Dead (2002)
  18. (4.10) - Fire Down Below (1997)
  19. (4.03) - Today You Die (2005)
  20. (3.91) - The Patriot (1998/I)
  21. (3.74) - Submerged (2005) (V)
  22. (3.72) - Clementine (2004)
  23. (3.67) - Black Dawn (2005) (V)
  24. (3.65) - Out of Reach (2004) (V)
  25. (3.51) - On Deadly Ground (1994)
  26. (3.23) - Ticker (2001)
  27. (2.66) - Out for a Kill (2003)
  28. (2.65) - The Foreigner (2003)

Astoundingly, I've seen every one of his films since Exit Wounds, and my favorite would be 2003's Belly of the Beast, which was also co-scripted by Seagal and has almost exactly the same plot as Shadow Man ("An ex-CIA agent's quest to find his kidnapped daughter leads him on a trail of political intrigue, corruption, danger and betrayal; he will stop at nothing to save her.") I prefer Belly of the Beast because it sets the familiar action in some exotic and colorful Asian locales rather than some dingy Eastern European nightclubs. I do agree, however, that Shadow Man is a major step above the two Michael Oblowitz movies (#27 and #28 above) which represented Seagal's career nadir in 2003. It is fair to say that Shadow Man is one of the big guy's better recent efforts.



  • Widescreen transfer; anamorphically enhanced; looks fine



Corina Toader shows her bum and the side of a breast in a scene where she seduces the Big Guy.

Various unidentified strippers show their breasts in a Bucharest nightclub.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

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.

Our 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. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. 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-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • 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.


Based on this description, this film is a C- as an muddled actioner. It would be fair to grade it a C as a (typical) Seagal straight-to-vid actioner, if you consider that a separate genre.

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