Thursday, February 16, 2012

Steven Seagal Week: Belly of the Beast

Fat Seagal and his Double are in full effect now!  This 2003 film is one of the more infamous films to begin the Direct-to-DVD demise of Steven Seagal.  It's not the first- The Foreigner came first- but it is one that people like to talk about.  Who am I to do anything else?  This movie is ridiculous for all of the reason that it shouldn't be.  The plot is goofy.  The action is ridiculous.  Worst of all, it's by a good Director.  Yes, this does happen every once in a while.  The Director in question is Siu-Tung Ching, the man behind Duel to the Death, The Swordsman series and numerous other Wuxia films.  He's reduced to making a Seagal film.  This man would serve as an Action Choreographer for the Beijing Olympic Games' famous opening...and he Directed Seagal's Stunt Double throwing people on wires.  He must have lost a bet, I guess.  The film involves Seagal going to China and 'fighting' people.  To find out what Ching brings to this film and why it's so universally-mocked, read on...
After a pointless scene of Seagal's double stealing something that will never come up again, his daughter and her friends are kidnapped by some terrorists in Thailand.  I hope you don't mind this eerily-similar imagery to the Daniel Pearl video...about a year later.
This upsets Seagal, who is, of course, a retired Federal Agent.  Get used to these shadows too...
Recall how I keep bringing up Seagal's Double?  Well, it's because of crap like this.  Nice of you to get the wires in the shot too.
Holy Shadow alert!  We get it- you're fat and don't want us to tell.  Stop pulling crap like this!  At least hire your Double- Dian Hristov- for some work where he's not turning away from the camera!
Back off of my tangent, it's scenes like this that make it clear that Ching is the Director.  It's just a shame that his 'star' can't do any of the crap on-screen.
There's a random sub-plot involving this Enforcer for the lead villain looking like a girl.  He's obviously not though.  This reveal is totally not shocking and is immediately followed by the character being killed violently.  Thanks for that.
There's so much more crap to show from this movie, but I only have so many spaces for Screen Caps.  Here's one highlight- the wig on Hristov coming off a bit when he dives onto this board.  Nice.
For the finale, there's a duel between Seagal and the villain- who's never really explained- crossed with some crap involving an evil wizard and some Monks...since we have to explain why Seagal almost breaks a sweat.  Magic.
I love physics.  I hate so much of this movie- when I'm not laughing- but I love physics.  The End.
Honestly, this is the most fun you can have with Fat Seagal.  Don't get me wrong- this movie sucks.  The whole thing is a confusing, pointless mess.  The plot seems really simple at first, but gets more and more ridiculous.  Seagal saves a bad guy, since he figures that he's the best bet at getting his daughter back.  As it turns out, he's not the bad guy.  It's an elaborate plot by a Lieutenant- who's secretly a mob boss- to get the CIA to take out the rival gang.  This brings in a friend of Seagal's- in the shadowy scene- who only serves to pad the run-time out and ultimately get killed.  Note to Seagal- all of your friends betray you and all of your relatives die/get kidnapped!  The action is the best and worst part of this movie.  With a good performer (or even one that looks plausible), this stuff could be great.  If you doubt me, watch any of Ching's other films- especially Duel to the Death.  The problem here is Seagal- plain and simple.  He looks really bad here and can't look convincing in any of the action scenes.  The poor guys have to just jump around/get pulled on wires while a Russian guy is constantly subbing for the star.  Good grief!  The Stunt Team make this movie fun, even if it's because you're laughing.  Without them, this is just a dull, confusing mess.  Thanks, Ching.  Take us away, random nudity...
Next up, another Seagal film set in Asia with him being awesome.  Can it succeed without all of the wires?  Stay tuned...

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