Movie Reviews

The 20 Best Steven Seagal Movies Ranked

steven seagal montage from movies

The ’80s were known for the rise of the B-grade action movie to theatrical blockbuster status, and the best Steven Seagal movies are great examples of this trend. His skills as a master of aikido and his stoic demeanor made Seagal stand out in the action movie genre and he became one of its biggest stars for a time. Seagal starred in everything from revenge movies to cop movies to prison movies, before taking on the real-life role as a practicing Buddhist and a part-time law enforcement officer.

Steven Seagal remains in the public eye even though he is no longer an A-List name whose presence is a guaranteed ticket seller, yet he remains an iconic B-movie action star. While only a few of his action movies stand up as classics, with Under Siege as the most popular of his starring roles, there are more Steven Seagal movies out there than many might expect, with plenty to seek out for those wanting to see more of the aikido practicing action hero beating up bad guys and saving the world from terrorists, gangsters, and bullies alike.

Steven Seagal is mostly known for playing the noble and deadly heroes of his movies who take on the bad guys and share their own brand of justice. Today You Die stands out a bit for being one of the rare movies in which Seagal is on the other side of the law.

The movie friends him playing a Robin Hood-esque thief named Harlan Banks, who pulls off heists so that he can help other people. However, when he decides to go straight, he is framed for a crime he didn’t commit.

As Seagal got deeper into his direct-to-video career, there was a sense that he started making less of an effort in both his performances and fight scenes. However, Today You Die does feature some great moments from the action star, including a memorable fight sequence that rivals some of the work he did in his prime.

As action stars get older, it is interesting to see them settle into roles that are more fitting with their age and playing the kind of heroes who are pulled back into the world of violence. While it can be argued that Seagal takes on a lot of roles that are likely more suitable for younger actors, Driver To Kill is at least a more appropriate one which makes for a memorable entry in his career.

Seagal plays a former Russian mobster who has become a crime novelist, retiring to a quieter life. However, when his daughter is set to marry the son of a notorious crime boss, violence strikes and Seagal’s former killer returns to his old ways for revenge. It is a familiar plot but it is another movie in which Seagal plays someone who is more morally complicated than his usual simplistic hero characters.

Years before Taken launched Liam Neeson’s action movie career, Belly of the Beast offered a very similar story with Steven Seagal in the lead. Seagal plays a former CIA operative who is now a widowed father of a young adult girl. When she is on a hiking trip in Thailand, she and her friend are kidnapped and held for ransom. Having previously served in missions in the country, Seagal’s Jake Hopper decides he has the best chance of getting her back safely.

The movie is nowhere near as entertaining as Neeson’s take on the vengeful father going after his kidnapped daughter and the lower-budget approach is also a stark contrast to the theatrical movies Seagal had previously been making. However, there are a lot of different fight scenes that allow Seagal to do his thing with shootouts, kung-fu duels, and even sword fights.

Since the beginning of Seagal’s career, he has almost exclusively had starring roles in movies, so it is fun to see him taking on the occasional supporting part such as in the direct-to-video thriller Gunshot Straight.

The movie stars CSI‘s George Eads as a gambler who finds himself wrapped up in a murder plot with various dangerous parties converging on him. Seagal plays a Las Vegas loan shark who becomes Eads’ unexpected ally.

Seagal only appears in a couple of scenes in the movie and very little of it is action-oriented. Instead, the movie gives him a fairly solid supporting character with his scenes opposite Eads being the most memorable part of the film. Seagal’s acting chops have never been worthy of praise and this movie will not change anyone’s mind on that, but it is a different sort of performance from the actor.

Not to be confused with the historical action movie The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, this Steven Seagal movie is a modern thriller that is another example of the actor stepping slightly away from action-heavy roles. Seagal plays a small-town doctor living in a peaceful community that is also home to an extreme militia group.

When the militia accidentally spreads a deadly virus, the community is quarantined and Seagal becomes the only hope of saving everyone. Those looking for the typical action sequences in Seagal movies will be disappointed with The Patriot as it is much more of a thriller with Seagal’s heroic doctor racing against the clock.

The action hero does not make for a particularly convincing small-town doctor, but it is fun seeing him branching out a little. The movie also has some interesting timely elements as simple as the script is.

The Keeper was a 2009 Steven Seagal movie where he teamed with director Keoni Waxman, a partnership that would last for a long time afterward. The pair made nine films together, and Waxman was part of Seagal’s TV series, True Justice, but their movie The Keeper remains their best collaboration.

This movie starred Seagal as a grizzled L.A. cop whose partner shoots him when he refuses to steal some money from a drug bust. He was forced into retirement but then finds himself back in action when some people kidnap an old friend’s daughter.

This film sees Seagal entering the direct-to-video era of his career. While there are a lot of low points among these movies, The Keeper proves he also had some solid action hits even when his time as a theatrical leading man ended.

Fire Down Below has a strange connection to the world of country music, as names like Randy Travis, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt, Kris Kristofferson, and more appeared in the movie. Toxins are dumped into mines, causing a lot of damage to the environment in Kentucky, but no one can stop it. Seagal is an EPA CID agent named Jack Taggert sent in to investigate after a previous agent ended up dead, and he goes undercover to bring down the operation.

Even before environmentalism was a widely held concern, Seagal tried to incorporate environmental messages into his movies, which is an admirable use of his star power (even if the execution was often clumsy). However, the fun action and eclectic cast help to elevate the clunky messages with Seagal seeming more engaged with the material than some of his other performances.