Steven Seagal and Unchopped Onions

the cockerel logo from Steven Seagal's mock film 'Cockpuncher'In a film that wasn’t really supposed to be Steven Seagal isn’t really in it, but for all of his five minutes he’s the solitary gag that’s actually worth a chuckle.

Those familiar with the satirical newspaper The Onion may well be familiar with the mocked up broadcast channel The Onion News Network, which deftly breathes life into the publication’s dafter stories. Taking these news snippets in their two minute online only format is all fine and dandy, but back in the pre-YouTube era the publication’s editors had the bold vision to bring this very standard to the masses by way of celluloid and touring cinema shows. Noble in notion, The Onion Movie is absolutely godawful in practice.

Taken in short bursts the comedy is quite enjoyable, but the reality of sitting down and watching these few dozen shorts in a single sitting is an exercise of tedium bordering into nausea. Steven Seagal lashing out at a lunging ninja, arms and swords flailingIt doesn’t build up into a grander narrative, there’s no echo chamber of repetition of the whole thing folding into itself. It’s just a waddling portmanteau of alright-but-not-brilliant comedy.

The film was finished in 2003, but after getting a resounding thumbs down from test audiences the money men decided it would be better left on the shelf. And on the shelf it was for five years, until the producers could harass the studio into releasing it direct-to-DVD in 2008. To say they shouldn’t have bothered would be too harsh, as there is a glimmer of self reflective irony from our man Steve, and always money to be made off unquestioning fans such as myself.

Taking the role of the eponymous Cock Puncher, Seagal bizarrely manages to be a parody of his later self a good four years before he actually reaches that dizzying low. Urban Justice from 2007 could aptly be retitled Crotch Assault, as the key method Seagal deploys in disabling hoodlums seems to be short swift blows to their crown jewels.

Is the man beyond parody? No, just prescient enough to be four years ahead of that very same curve.

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