Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Steven Seagal Week: Under Siege 2- Dark Territory

Prepare to come face to face with the Law of Diminishing Returns.  In the mid-80's, Steven Seagal broke onto the movie scene with violent, intense action films.  He had a bunch of hits, but, like Van-Damme and others, his time of popularity could not be maintained.  Whereas 'Ahnuld' made hit films (to a varying degree) for nearly twenty-years, Seagal has had about maybe 10...split up throughout the last twenty-four.  I guess that counts for something.  To see what first made his career begin to take a tail-spin (until Exit Wounds), let's look at Under Siege 2.  While missing most of the worst tropes of the modern Seagal film (voice-dubbing, action doubles), it does have some of the other ones- i.e. he's always a Federal Agent.  Seriously, does he do anything else?!?  While the original film established that Seagal could be a mainstream star, this sequel established that it may have been a fluke.  Gone is the original location, most of the important cast and the best damn villain Seagal has ever gotten.  In his place, the guy from Special Effects.  Close?  To see why Seagal's first fall occurred, read on...
Instead of being on a submarine, this film is set on a train.  If you think that this subtitle means anything, you'd be mostly-mistaken.
Fun Fact #1- Morris Chestnut plays Seagal's sidekick.  He later played the villain in Seagal's last starring film in theaters- Half Past Dead.  Fun Fact #2- His niece is played by Katherine Heigl.  Beats those romantic comedies, huh?
A bunch of terrorists- led by Eric Bogosian- take over the train to get the codes for a satellite weapon that he designed.
This thing is really dangerous.  What can it do, you ask?  It shoots lasers from space that cause earthquakes.  No, really.
In the midst of Seagal's super-awesome take-down of all of the bad guys by himself, he gets shot by a sniper. Does that slow him down?
Hell no!  He takes that bullet to the shoulder like a pro and continues to take down trained killers without breaking a sweat.
Random Fact: This Peter Weller-looking dude is one of the henchman.  It doesn't go anywhere and he doesn't really do anything.  He's just...around.  Weird.
After 80 minutes of build-up, Seagal kicks the ass of the main henchman without a scratch.  Okay, he does have one scratch- but that's it.  What a let-down.
In The End, Seagal survives two trains crashing into each other- don't ask- and runs to a nearby helicopter.  On the plus side, he was actually kind of running!  The End.
Eventually, it all had to go downhill.  To be honest, there's nothing amazingly-bad about this movie.  It doesn't have the pointless voice-dubbing, the over-use of stunt doubles for everything (including standing still) and it doesn't feature a plot completely re-written in post-production.  The problem is that nothing stands out about it.  Like many action stars, he reached a point where most of his films started to all feel the same.  This is especially true with Seagal, as his ego seemed to not allow certain things to happen.  Could Seagal's character be wrong or have any moral failings?  No.  Could he ever fail in a situation?  Again, no.  Could he have an even fight with anyone?  Doubtful, given how awesome and kick-ass he is.  This reminds me a lot of The Warrior's Way, in which the hero was literally never hit once.  That guy is never scratched remotely, even in the final fight.  Three minutes in and he's killed the greatest swordsman ever, thus making him the greatest.  Other actors try to add drama to the film- including good ones like Kurtwood Smith- but fail when you consider that Seagal is 'a God among men.'  This movie has some good moments- honestly- and doesn't completely suck.  For Seagal, that's great.  Take us away, boobs...
Next up, a quick break from fat Akido experts to cover a day of love.  In true Mondo Bizarro fashion, I have a film involving love, murder and a corpse.  Stay tuned...


  1. I actually rather like this film, but yes, the plot is pretty silly and I definitely agree on the "Seagal is untouchable" thing. He was always pretty bad about doing that even in his earlier films, as I recall (if he ever got hurt it would be to start the plot off in the first place), but it kind of really started to stand out here. Still nowhere near as bad as in his more recent films, though!

    It's a shame there's a number of action films that don't realize that you kinda need some tension to get people to emotionally invest in your movie!

    But yeah...overall, I think Under Siege 2 is a fun film with some good moments, but certainly notably flawed in some ways.

  2. That's not Peter Weller.