I mean, like really – what’s going on here?
Steven Seagal is best known as the ultimate action movie tough guy. He broke in as a stunt coordinator and aikido expert. He made his mark as a skinny leading man with hits like Above the Law, Hard to Kill and Marked for Death before making his bread with some action classics like Out for Justice, Under Siege and Exit Wounds. Since then he’s put on some pounds and gone off the rails quite a bit as his egregious personality and on screen persona finally cast him away to DTV films and Russian exile.
However, one question about Seagal’s storied ultimate action movie career still remains… Why the hell does he run so weird? (Actually this should be past tense since he probably isn’t doing much running in his new films – if at all.)
Steven Seagal in Motion
While this question has perplexed ultimate action movie scholars for decades, we now have some terrific video proof to review. The YouTube account Danger Meat has uploaded an awesome montage of Seagal in motion that helps us to really examine just what the hell is going on with the man’s odd gait.
It’s also kind of cool / funny to see just how much Seagal has changed over the years. He really was almost twig-like in his first film appearances and arguably really needed to bulk up at first. However, as his size increased his speed certainly slipped significantly.
As a bonus we get the culmination of what is the presumed natural regression of Seagal’s athletic prowess with the infamous hospital escape scene from Seagal’s Hard to Kill where he truthfully looks about as fleet footed as ever rolling down the exit ramps bearded and bewildered.
Theories on Seagal’s Running Style
So, we do need to examine this a bit further. There has to be some reasons or explanations for just why Seagal chooses to run like this on screen. He’s noted for being quite a bit of a stickler for making sure his tough guy brand and persona is upheld in every one of his scenes – so how did these funny runs get through? Here are some theories.
1) He simply has really long limbs.
This might be the simplest explanation. As you can see when the man is at his skinniest, Seagal has really, really, really long arms and legs. This would perhaps explain why – for a time – he really was a great athlete and fighter. Long limbs are advantageous in combat, and actually quite conducive to speed, but also kind of funny to see in full flight.
2) The Seagal Run is actually the optimal running style.
Another theory to consider might be that WE are all the ones who run funny, and it’s Seagal who has simply discovered the optimate – and most ULTIMATE – style of running. His arms sway from tight to his hips to elongated up and forward almost like he’s on an elliptical machine which might just be the best way for true speed. We should note that Seagal always gets his man in these chase scenes, so who are we to question the look when we can see the ultimate results?
3) Seagal is only running for fun.
This is my favorite theory and most probably the true answer. One thing you should know about Steven Seagal the Ultimate Action Movie Star™ is that his particular brand of hero is the type that is never in danger, trouble or out of control. A lot of other heroes build their characters by being beat up and down and out before they triumph in the end.
Not Seagal though, in basically every single one of his movies he’s never in any real danger. He remains calm and suave throughout. If he gets hit it’s only because he let it happen and to prove a point. So…
That means in every one of these chase scenes he KNOWS he’s going to get his mark eventually. He’s only doing it for the damn exercise. He can run however he wants and it wouldn’t matter if he was skipping after the guy. Seagal always wins in his films, so the running is just there for the sheer fun of it.
Let us know your theories in the comments below!