HARD TO KILL was Seagal’s second film with Warner Bros. studios. As the story goes, Seagal was teaching Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz in the Japanese martial art aikido and soon this led to a screen test for the studio. He surely must have wowed them with his moves because Seagal’s acting certainly isn’t the best. Anyway, the resulting film to be Seagal’s debut was ABOVE THE LAW (1988), which grossed roughly $18 million in the U.S. when it came out in April 1988. Not bad for a debut. His second feature started filming in April 1989 under the title SEVEN YEAR STORM (a reference to his character Mason Storm [ha!] being in a coma). The studio changed the title in October 1989 after it had excellent test screenings and they returned to the three word variant of his debut. SEVEN YEAR STORM became the much more accessible HARD TO KILL.
giving a lecture to characters (and audiences) about the environment complete with real shots of natural disasters and oil-drenched animals. Rumor has it that Warner’s execs wanted this scene cut and Seagal refused. That and going famously over budget on this and his next film, the sequel UNDER SIEGE 2 (1995), signed his death warrant. By 1998 his films started going straight-to-video and, despite the occasional theatrical release, he mostly stayed there. When the time the new millennium rolled around, he completely gave up and starred in anything thrown his way (a record 31 films in 14 years). However, he was king for a while as he ruled the action market from 1988 to 1994 – it was a total seven year storm.