Interview with director Michael Oblowitz!

Kadir

New Member
I remember Half Past Dead didn’t perform very well;but Dvd sales figures were great.In Turkey,The Foreigner and Out For a Kill were released same month,I’ve purchased them immediately. Incredibly bad movies Indeed
 

J.Lucas

Active Member
I remember Half Past Dead didn’t perform very well;
couple of reasons for that
no TV advertisemenst(I saw one TV commercial for ir 2 days before release)
it was rated 'G" ...who ever heard of a G rated Seagal movie
very limited theaters it was released to(I know it ddin't play near me)
--
Only reason I new about it was because I used the Seagal forums at the time
they even had a contest or something...I still have the premiere ticket pass and a bunch of stickers they sent me..
 

Forrest Taft

Active Member
Half Past Dead's failure can definitely in no small part be attributed to its PG-13 rating.

They made the same mistake with Expendables 3, trying to appeal to a younger audience who have no idea who the star is and alienating the audience who want to see blood 'n' guts. So nobody wins and the box office tanks.

In the commentary, somebody says something along the lines of, since 9/11, audiences would rather see tame violence with sparks rather than blood, which is why sparks seem to shower everything whenever a bullet is fired. No. I for one would rather see Seagal tearing people's throats out.

If Half Past Dead had has some balls, it could have been a Seagal classic. Unfortunately, we got rap songs with all the f-bombs muted and Seagal killing one guy by kicking him into a cabinet.
 

DTVDigest

Member
Thanks for this, Dida. I've always been curious to find out more about Michael Oblowitz's views on these movies. Like them or not, you can't help but be struck by their distinctiveness and how different they are in tone and style. (It's the wilder, colourful OFAK that I like best of the two.) His film THE BREED also stands out from that time in his career.
 

masterd48

Member
Are you insane DTVDigest? Did you see the shoddy green screen work in OFAK, the editing of the prison scene, the dubbing? Oblowitz is a rent-a-director with no appreciation for the art or his audience; he was one of the first to allow Seagal all his bad behaviour and set him on the road towards films like Attack Force
 

Kadir

New Member
For Budget approximately 20 million Usd,They’ve made John Wick;but What we have seen Steven Seagal’s worst film that date.Definetely career killer.
 

DTVDigest

Member
Are you insane DTVDigest? Did you see the shoddy green screen work in OFAK, the editing of the prison scene, the dubbing? Oblowitz is a rent-a-director with no appreciation for the art or his audience; he was one of the first to allow Seagal all his bad behaviour and set him on the road towards films like Attack Force

Oh, I'm in no doubt about the shortcomings of both films. But I do respect that OFAK is a very distinctive, stylish film. I think even with the problems appropriately addressed that it would still have that going for it. It's flaws are a part of that experience.

As for your accusation of 'enabling' and the downward turn in Seagal's career. That's quite possibly fair to say, but we can only speculate. I think it's possibly more to do with Seagal's personality and agreements/conflicts with producers than any directors being at particular fault. Seagal is a powerful figure on screen and off and has always been master of his own destiny. Good or bad, I think each film for the most part appropriately reflects on Seagal and his passion or disinterest in each project. For the most part, I don't think it matters who the director is in that sense.

In the case of these two films, Oblowitz did bring something to the table. He'd caught people's eyes with THIS WORLD, THEN THE FIREWORKS (1997) and OFAK certainly has the marks of an auteur. It's wildly ambitious and from those flaws I deduce that the final cut isn't as it was intended.
 

DTVDigest

Member
For Budget approximately 20 million Usd,They’ve made John Wick;but What we have seen Steven Seagal’s worst film that date.Definetely career killer.

The JOHN WICK comparison is a pretty good one. In terms of OFAK's aesthetic, it's very similar to that of the JW films. With a bit more love and attention, this really could have been the JW of its day. As it was, it just ended up disappointing and confusing pretty much everyone, myself included. But of all Seagal's films over the last 20 years, it does really stand out and I really like that about it.
 

Forrest Taft

Active Member
Have to agree that Out for a Kill is pretty terrible. Reminds me of the original Slinger version of Van Damme’s Cyborg which was filled with out-of-place rock music and moody, artsy takes. Sure, it was the ‘director’s vision’, but totally unmarketable and not what the money men want. That movie was re-edited to make it more audience-friendly. Out for a Kill, by the evidence on-screen, wasn’t. Scenes come and go with no logic, dialogue is poorly synched, obvious fight doubles, atrocious green-screen, it’s endless. The central concept and ideas could have been good in a decent film. Unfortunately, Out for a Kill is quite far from a decent film.
 

bwana-beast

Active Member
Love reading about the grubby day to day business of movie making on the fringes. You can't make this stuff up:D Thanks for posting.
 

DTVDigest

Member
Thanks to Lee for posting the link to the article "The King of the Geezer Teasers: Inside Randall Emmett’s direct-to-video empire, where many Hollywood stars have found lucrative early retirement" by Joshua Hunt.

Here's some quotes from the section on Michael Oblowitz:

"Oblowitz was, by his own reckoning, an unlikely candidate for directing commercial action movies. After dodging the draft in his native South Africa, Oblowitz moved to New York, where he became a seminal figure in the No Wave movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, creating films now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. While earning an M.F.A. at Columbia University, he palled around with Jim Jarmusch and curated a program called “Cine Virus” alongside his friend Kathryn Bigelow. At the tail end of the indie-film craze of the ’90s, Oblowitz’s 1997 movie, This World, Then the Fireworks, was featured at Cannes, but he still paid the bills directing music videos. When the opportunity to work with Seagal came along, he was happy to make a living wage directing a feature film. Oblowitz also enjoyed the surreal perks that came with the job, such as working with crews who had helped make movies with Andrei Tarkovsky and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Then there was the time he dined with Seagal and Vladimir Putin in Warsaw. (A spokesperson for Seagal denied that he would ever have taken Oblowitz to dinner with Putin.)

"Studio heads, meanwhile, appreciated the fact that Oblowitz could tolerate Seagal’s eccentricities. Once, Oblowitz says, Seagal halted production on The Foreigner so that Buddhist monks from Nepal could perform a ceremony to determine whether the production would go forward. The ceremony, called a puja, was held at Seagal’s sprawling mansion in Los Angeles, where he summoned Oblowitz and various producers, studio executives, agents, and managers.

Millions had been spent just to get us to where we are, and now our superstar is informing us that the fate of the production a week out from beginning is going to be decided by a bunch of Buddhist monks in Seagal’s lounge in Mandeville Canyon,” Oblowitz says. “Now I’m really understanding the Seagal that everybody talks about and complains about, and Craig Emanuel [Seagal’s attorney] looks at me with this look of absolute fucking horror on his face, and I’m jet-lagged out of my brain, and on the wall is this gigantic velour painting.” In the painting, Seagal was seated on a gold throne in the Himalayas, surrounded by monks in purple robes — much like the ones gathered in front of the painting. “There are 15 of these Buddhist monks, all dressed in their purple robes and their shaved heads and their sandals, and they’ve just flown in from Tibet or somewhere on one of these 25-hour flights. After hours of chanting, Oblowitz says, the monks extinguished their burning sage and communicated something to Seagal, who then lit a cigar and declared that The Foreigner could resume production.

"Another issue was Seagal’s insistence on extensive script rewrites, which often baffled his collaborators. “Steven decided he wanted to be an archaeologist, and I went, ‘Steven, please, please, you can’t be a fucking archaeologist. Nobody wants to see Steven Seagal: archaeologist,’ ” Oblowitz says. “I wanted to track down drug dealers and avenge your murdered wife — like a Sam Peckinpah or John Ford movie. But, you know, he wanted to show his sublime knowledge of Chinese antiquities.” (Seagal’s spokesperson called both stories “absolutely false.” Emanuel declined to comment.)

"Such experiences, along with a shared love of blues music, bonded the action star and his director, Oblowitz says. When Emmett reached out with a proposal for a direct-to-video Seagal picture with Millennium Films, Emmett’s pitch, Oblowitz recalls, was that Seagal would love working in Bulgaria, “where the girls are so pretty, and we know all the model agents.” (Kaufman denied this happened but did acknowledge that Furla, Emmett’s partner, was once an investor in a modeling agency.) However clumsy his approach, Emmett’s timing was excellent: Franchise Pictures, which had bankrolled The Foreigner, was the target of a federal criminal investigation by the time Oblowitz began editing the film; Elie Samaha, who ran Franchise, was eventually found liable for $77 million in damages for inflating the budgets of films including the Scientology sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth. (He ended up filing for bankruptcy protection.) Oblowitz and Seagal agreed to let Emmett and Lerner produce their next project.

"That film was Out for a Kill. It was pivotal for many reasons: For Lerner, it was the realization of his dream to bring big-name stars to Eastern Europe, where explosions, helicopter rentals, and labor were all cheaper and $20 million could be made to look like $40 million. For Emmett, it was a proving ground.

"“I invented the formula,” Oblowitz says. “What I did with Steven with The Foreigner and Out for a Kill was the formula that everybody uses today to get an aging, overweight action star in and out as fast as possible, and it created a template whereby you can cut him through the movie.” It was, for Oblowitz, a formula born of necessity: Seagal still had box-office clout, and if he wanted to show up to work late, leave early, and spend less time shooting action sequences, Oblowitz would have no choice but to accommodate him, which meant extensive storyboarding, creative fight coordinators, and strategic use of stunt doubles. “That model is now being used with all these aging action stars,” Oblowitz says. “All these guys — Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson — they’re all doing what Seagal did.”"
 
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