5 Movie Martial Artists That Lost a Deathmatch to Dignity

Nothing in the known universe is more badass than a kung fu movie star.

Yet, when a superstar battles his way to the top of Badass Mountain, something happens--something terrible and difficult to watch. These are the men who fell from awesome to ridiculous with horrifying speed:

#5. Steven Seagal

With all of the embarrassment Seagal has brought upon himself in the last 10 years, it's tempting to forget that he is a bad, bad man.

Steven Seagal is an aikido master--a martial art less concerned with form than inflicting ridiculous amounts of damage to people's load-bearing joints. Seagal began his martial arts career in Japan, where he was one of the first foreigners to open a dojo there. The Japanese taught Seagal aikido, at which point we assume he said something along the lines of "I've got some lessons of my own to teach," then promptly flew to Japan to teach it back to them the right way. If you are pregnant or nursing, have a history of heart condition or stomach problems, please consult a doctor before reading the following list of facts about Seagal, all 100 percent true and each more badass than the last:

1: Steven Seagal is a recognized Tulku--a Buddhist holy man who reincarnates repeatedly by choice; presumably if you kill him, he can choose to come back as a grizzly bear that hungers only for vengeance.

2: Steven Seagal is not only a deputy sheriff in his hometown of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; he's also on the SWAT Team and is responsible for their training.

3: Steven Seagal adopts homeless animals. Not so badass? His two dogs are named Chaos and Fist. Holy shit! Here's your ass, by the way, you might want it back after Seagal's life knocked it off of you.

Steven Seagal was not an elegant man. His action scenes, unlike their Hong Kong counterparts, were not about elaborate or flashy moves. They were about breaking your arms mostly, in the quickest and easiest ways possible. Seagal showed up dressed in black leather, greased-back hair and gold chains, resembling nothing more than a New York Guido out for kicks on a Saturday night. Then, to everybody's amazement, you watched as he flipped men around his head by the dozens to a soundtrack of bones snapping so fast and in such numbers, it was like setting off Chinese firecrackers in a bowl of Rice Krispies. Seagal took the sometimes condescending sophistication out of martial arts movies. He was there to do business, and may God have mercy on your elbows if you took issue with it.

Most Epic Moment Caught on Film:

This clip from Out for Justice hearkens back to his early days of rapid fire limb-breaking and terrifying, albeit somewhat confusing threats, such as: "Whose hot dog is this, eh? That yours?!" Seagal casually, almost absent-mindedly beats the shit out of most of New Jersey in this video, using a billiard ball wrapped in a bar towel. This clip is six-minutes long and there are six arms broken in those minutes. Take a minute and count 'em. Did you only come up with five? That's because the sixth arm is yours. Go ahead. Check. Then get yourself to a hospital. Tell them Seagal sent you--they've got a special ward all ready to go.

The Sad Decline:

Seagal's martial arts and film career went downhill pretty fast, but even more disappointing than that was his personal descent into the foul and dank valleys of Douchebag County. Early Seagal characters were all about the everyman, they were inner-city cops by and large; unsophisticated and unconcerned with anything but justice, preferably street justice, if you have it. By contrast, Seagal himself became more and more of an unapproachable bottle of dick with every year that passed. He was an early adopter of such douchebag traits as: Fascination with a cheap, cursory sort of Asian spirituality, the sensitive pony-tail, pseudo-environmentalism and of course, the frat boy guitar.

Seagal soon decided to incorporate his newfound love of everything asshole into his movies, and the blue collar cop characters that made him famous gradually morphed into EPA agents protecting rivers and fighting big business. After the repeated failure of his box office releases, Seagal decided to focus on music and cut a blues album called The Crystal Cave, a title which could not spell out 'hippie dickhead' any clearer if you wrote it out on a Hacky Sack and hung it from a puka shell necklace.

Most Pathetic Moment Caught on Film:

This is Seagal's music video, "Girl, it's alright," from the album "Mojo Priest," which manages to one up "Crystal Cave" as the single phrase most likely to cause spontaneous rage-vomiting. Watch carefully for a prime example of douchebaggery as Seagal romances what appears to be a 14-year-old Asian girl in a Buddhist temple while crooning platitudes you usually only hear right before you're date-raped in a Lifetime Network movie of the week. Also watch for Seagal's bloated bulk squeezed into a shimmering gold and red foil two-piece, inadvertently causing him to resemble a 7-11 hot dog.

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