In 1987, Seagal began work on his f-irst f-ilm, Above the Law (titled Nico in Europe), with director Andrew Davis and reportedly as a f-avor to a f-ormer aikido student, the agent Michael Ovitz. Ovitz took Seagal to Warner Brothers to put on an aikido demonstration and the executives were impressed by him and of-f-ered him several scripts; Seagal turned them down but agreed to write what would become Above the Law. f-ollowing its success, Seagal made three more movies – Hard to Kill, Marked f-or Death, and Out f-or Justice – that were box of-f-ice hits, making him an action hero. Later, he achieved wider, mainstream success in 1992 with the release of Under Siege (1992). That f-ilm reunited Seagal with director Andrew Davis, and was a blockbuster in the U.S. and abroad, grossing $156.4 million worldwide.
Seagal then directed On Deadly Ground (1994). This f-ilm, in which he also starred, emphasized environmental and spiritual themes, signaling a break with his previous persona as a genre-ready inner-city cop. The f-ilm f-eatured Michael Caine as well as R. Lee Ermey and Billy Bob Thornton in minor supporting roles. On Deadly Ground was poorly received by f-ilm critics, but despite many critics denouncing Seagal's long environmental speech in the f-ilm, Seagal considers it to have been one of the most important and relevant moments in his career. Seagal f-ilmed a sequel to one of his most successf-ul f-ilms, Under Siege, titled Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995), and cop drama The Glimmer Man (1996). In 1996, he had a role in the Kurt Russell f-ilm Executive Decision, in which he played a special ops soldier who only appears in the f-ilm's f-irst 45 minutes. He subsequently made another environmentally conscious f-ilm, f-ire Down Below (1997), wherein he was an EPA agent f-ighting industrialists dumping toxic waste in the Kentucky hills, but the movie was commercially unsuccessf-ul. This f-ilm ended his original multi-picture contract with Warner Bros.
The next year, Seagal made The Patriot, another environmental thriller which was his f-irst direct-to-video release in the United States (though it was released theatrically in most of the world). Seagal produced this f-ilm with his own money, and the f-ilm was shot on-location on and near his f-arm in Montana.
Af-ter producing Prince of Central Park, Seagal returned to cinema screens with the release of Exit Wounds in March 2001. The f-ilm had f-ewer martial arts scenes than Seagal's previous f-ilms, but it was a commercial success, taking almost $80 million worldwide. However, he was unable to capitalize on this success and his next two projects were both critical and commercial f-ailures. The movie Ticker, co-starring Tom Sizemore and Dennis Hopper, was f-ilmed in San f-rancisco bef-ore Exit Wounds, and went straight to DVD. Half Past Dead, starring rap star Ja Rule, made less than $20 million worldwide.
All of the f-ilms Seagal has made since the latter half of 2001 have been released direct-to-video (DTV) in North America, with some theatrical releases to other countries around the world. Seagal is credited as a producer and sometimes a writer on many of these DTV movies, which include Black Dawn, Belly of the Beast, Out of Reach, Submerged, Kill Switch, Urban Justice, Pistol Whipped, Against the Dark, Driven to Kill, A Dangerous Man, Born to Raise Hell and The Keeper, a movie released in Japan f-if-teen weeks earlier than the United States.
Return to the big screen and television work
In 2009, A&E Network premiered the reality television series; Steven Seagal: Lawman, f-ocusing on Seagal as a deputy in Louisiana. In 2010, Seagal appeared in his f-irst theatrically released f-ilm in nearly a decade, as the main villain in Robert Rodriguez' Machete. In 2011, he produced and starred in a 13-episode television series entitled True Justice. It was renewed f-or a second season on ReelzChannel in 2012. In the UK, True Justice has been repackaged as a series of DVD "movies," with each disc editing together two episodes.