A former coworker once remarked while Under Siege was playing on the tv in the lunch room:
“Nothing clears women out of the room faster than a Steven Seagal movie…”
It proved true in that instance, as the women in the room at the time had all left leaving nothing but men. Aside from that little anecdote, i would be remiss if i didn’t tackle the old adage of how you can put “Steven Seagal is…” in front of his movies for great comic effect:
- Steven Seagal is Out for Justice
- Steven Seagal is Marked for Death
- Steven Seagal is Above the Law
- Steven Seagal is… Exit Wounds?
That last example is what i wanted to tackle; yes the rule works for 9 (technically 8) out of his 12 major movies from his 88′-98 “golden age”, it doesn’t work with Executive Decision, Fire Down Below, or the aforementioned Exit Wounds. Not unless you add some sort of noun, preposition, or indefinite article attached to “is”. So for example:
- Steven Seagal is an Executive Decision
- Steven Seagal is close to a Fire Down Below
- Steven Seagal is in addition to Exit Wounds
So remember guys, it’s always important to take any generalized statement with a grain of salt; i mean you don’t want to look like an idiot right?
Steven Seagal is… Under Siege… and Steven Seagal is in… Dark Territory sums it up really.
I will admit that i have watched all of Seagal’s golden age movies, i do that with some reluctance however we live in a day an age where mediocre 80’s trash like Commando gets held up as the pinnacle of 80’s action goodness, so really there i shouldn’t feel ashamed *. So with that admission i have the authority to tell you that Under Siege and its sequel are the best ones out of the lot of them. As they’re well budgeted, decently scripted, have some funny lines and even notable performances.
Under Siege certainly carries the most sensationalism and spectacle, with it being set on a battleship and having Tommy Lee Jones giving a manic performance as a domestic terrorist. But i think US2: Dark Territory is just as good an action movie, and an often overlooked gem (relatively) in Seagal’s filmography.
As Eric Bogosian is just as memorably over the top as Jones, and the production value is quite high with some pretty decent model work and special effects in display for early 90’s throwaway action fare. Also Basil Poledouris steps into Gary Chang’s place and delivers much better music, which adds a great deal of flair and class to the production than is deserved.
But what about the action scenes? After all they are the most important part about these types of movies. Again while Under Siege certainly delivers on Seagal’s trademarked brutal, sadistic, simplistic, and sensationalised action scenes, Under Siege 2 doesn’t fail to deliver either. There’s plenty of shootouts, and knife fights, and broken bones to be had in either one you might choose to watch.
I think the largest and indisputable flaw in any Steven Seagal movie will always be Steven Seagal. The man can’t act to save his life, in fact Arnold Schwarzenegger is a better actor than Seagal. He also seems like a genuinely terrible person leaving multiple broken marriages, multiple sex assault allegations, and questions about his martial arts training hanging in the aftermath of his career’s resurrection from bargain bin purgatory.
Lastly and specifically in regards to Dark Territory, Seagal fails to give us one of his usual over the top ways of dispatching one of the main bad guys, choosing to simply snap his neck as opposed to using the environment (a kitchen in this case) in a creative way.
While Under Siege remains Seagal’s “best” movie in terms of watchability, to not say Under Seige 2: Dark Territory represents the apex of what bargain bin throwaway 90’s action movies could supply would be an oversight (in fact i watch the second one more often).
Keep those expectations low, your bloodlust high, and your girlfriend out of the way to get the most enjoyment out of these two movies.
OUT OF FIVE
*By they way if you like Commando and turn your nose up to equally violent, unintentionally funny, over the top, and terrible movies like Out for Justice, then it’s you who is in the wrong.