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At the height of his fame Seagal was allowed to direct this monstrosity
about evil Texas oil Aegis company polluting Alaska. With no prior
experience in directing Steve stampeded his way into this movie with as
much subtlety as a brick in the face. Originally called 'Spirit
Warrior' and hoping to cast loads of English baddies (among them
Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Irons) the film is a horrid example of far
too much creative control given to one man too blinkered by his own
agenda to bother giving us anything resembling decent storytelling.
There is nothing significant or exceptional about Seagal's direction. Nor is the action very well done. It's cut too lazily and not shot for maximum viewing clarity. But what reeks about the story is that some big oil magnate called Michael Jennings (a completely hammy Michael Caine) wants to build a really shoddy oil rig in Alaska made out of dodgy parts because the rights to the land are about to revert back to the Eskimos after 30 years of non-use. So why wait 30 years to build the bloody thing?
Seagal plays Forrest Taft, an oil rig fireman who suddenly develops a conscience and is promptly eliminated from the payroll by way of being blown up. Only he is rescue by the Eskimos and, this is where the film just goes insane, goes on a spiritual journey in which he wrestles bears and turns into eagles and stuff. I mean, what the hell is all that about??? Don't even get me started on the scene where he makes a fully-grown hard-ass redneck cry in a bar full of similar stereotypes when the philosophy touches his soul. Then he gets his old self back together and sets about righting all the wrongs of Aegis Oil and saving the environment by littering it with dead bad guys.
Jennings hires a bunch of mercenaries (including R. Lee Ermey and Billy Bob Thornton) to take out Taft but of course they all prove to be useless since Taft is revealed to be an ex-CIA Agent (oh dear God..)Nothing much really happens apart from shooting and dying and Seagal beating up nameless extras. We've seen all of this before and it's no different this time round.
I do appreciate his environmentally friendly attitude but it could have made it a little less obvious and campy. Seagal's tacked on speech at the end originally ran for 30 minutes (Jeezuz sufferin') but Warner finally stepped in and said a big no-no.
We could have had an Oliver Stone or Insider amount of paranoia and conspiracy but this just ends up as the worst of Seagal's Hollywood movies.
I really don't know what is so horrible about this film.As of this writing On Deadly Ground is on the IMDb bottom 100: #99 and that is just sad.On Deadly Ground is a very decent film. I admit When I first saw it when it came out I didn't appreciate it but after a recent viewing,that has changed one hundred percent!The movie has got it all!A great story,great action,and one heck of a cast!Look, you have Steven Seagal,R. Lee Ermey,Michael Caine,Joan Chen,John C. McGinley,and Billy Bob Thornton!Plus Sven-Ole Thorsen and Jules Desjarlais,Mike Starr,Nils Allen Stewart,and even Irvin Kershner!Ermey's character was neat and he acted very well!Seagal's direction is good and I loved it when he showed up for his first scene in the movie.The film is really good in My opinion and at the end when Seagal's speech came up it was really deep and seeing those real clips of animals was sad.For those who have seen it before just give this film another try and for the people who didn't see the film also see this film if you like Seagal and the above mentioned cast and action movies. I am sure you will disagree with the others and like the film like I do. I recommend it!
Hilarious, though unfortunately takes itself seriously. (I hope Steven Seagal doesn't come looking for me for this review.) Alaskan stoners who were actually familiar with the bush watched it just for the laughs. A great ethnic Alaskan Native cast including Japanese, Chinese, Samoan, Plains Indians, etc. There actually are some indigenous Alaskans in roles as extras. Seagal asks his Chinese co-star, "Can you ride a horse?" "Of course," she says, or something like that, "I'm an Indian." Almost nothing fits, even the scenery. This movie is amazingly consistent. The plot, acting, direction, locations, screenplay, stunts, etc., are all equally ridiculous.
What drew me to On Deadly Ground was that it had a few new ideas in its
locker that I hadn't come across in many other action movies. The
setting was Alaska, which sounded intriguing. The action was backed up
by an environmental message, which also sounded intriguing. The hero
was played by a wooden martial arts "actor", while the villain was
played by a prolific, Oscar-winning superstar, which sounded like an
irresistible pairing (just for the novelty value of seeing them on
screen together). Add to that the fact that the music was by Basil
Poledouris (whose scores for Conan the Barbarian and The Hunt For Red
October are all-time great pieces of film music). On Deadly Ground
seemed to have the promise and the potential to be something pretty
interesting. Alas, the film fulfils very little of its potential. It's
a particularly inept action flick.
Troubleshooter Forrest Taft (Steven Seagal) works for an oil company in Alaska fronted by the unpleasant Michael Jennings (Michael Caine, not in his worst ever film but certainly providing his worst ever performance). Taft gradually begins to realize that the company he works for is responsible for appalling environmental damage, but he can't get them to approach their business with a more environmentally-friendly outlook.... so he does the next best thing - he kicks some butt! Taft goes on a worthy crusade against his callous, single-minded bosses. Hired mercenaries are brought in to stop him, but Taft either evades or kills them in the Alaskan wilderness, and ruthlessly closes in on Jennings.
Seagal made a major mistake in directing the film himself. He lacks fluency as a director and has little grasp of how to link scenes correctly. Nor does he seem capable of coaxing decent performances from his surprisingly good cast. The film stumbles with near-random carelessness from one badly-acted scene to the next, diverting occasionally for the odd expensive-but-totally-soulless set piece. There are flashes of pretty cinematography, and in parts the action is crisply and competently choreographed, but generally the film is a disappointment. After the roasting that it received, Seagal's box office appeal took a permanent dip and Michael Caine stopped prostituting his talents in every film that was offered to him and actually started looking for scripts worthy of his ability.
The film where Steven Seagal proves that he's much more than just a
he's also a lousy director.
Where to begin? There's a nice mix of action star self-indulgence and political commentary on the evils of oil. Seagal is Forrest Taft (?), a no non-sense renegade who plays by his own set of rules for some sort of oil rigging company owned by some guy named Michael Jennings (Michael Caine playing a character who is so evil, that he has jet black hair!). That is, until Forrest's friends start accusing him of turning his back on the environment. Forrest doesn't like that much. Nobody calls him a 'whore' and gets away with it.
After twenty minutes, and a random bar fight, Forrest reads a fourth grade-level computer screen that pretty much spells out how economically dangerous oil rigs can really be and how his boss is making sure that silly things like the environment don't get in the way of a profit. Rather than develop complex protagonists and antagonists, we get a clear black and white split: Big corporations and oil companies are evil and Eskimos are good-as they help Forrest become spiritually reborn as a 'man-bear' and regain his sights on kicking ass.
Chances are, you weren't watching for plot anyway. But the guilty pleasure parade just keeps on going: dialogue that'll make you smile (best line: 'You didn't find Flint, but you managed to kill an unarmed Eskimo!'), lots of explosions, horrible supporting actors, and a chance for Steven Seagal to play 'the slap game' with one of his judgmental oil workers. "On Deadly Ground" gives Seagal plenty of opportunity to kick ass and arch his eyebrows in a suspicious manner, but the same can't be said about poor Michael Caine. As the film's antagonist, Caine turns in a two dimensional performance that may have been modeled after a villain from "Captain Planet." There's something sad about watching a two time Oscar winner grit his teeth for two hours of screen time. Just laugh at him. He sleeps on a nice pile of money.
All and all horrible film that will keep you laughing with it's misguided attempts to make an action film about more than just explosions.
I, for one, would suggest that Seagal update this film to reflect the events of the Iraq war. He could start off as an Iraqi, hiding the weapons of mass destruction. Then realize Weapons of Mass Destruction cause harm to society. And along the way, get really p***ed off when he finds out it was all about exploiting the Iraqis out of oil.
Summary: Come for the heavy handed ecological commentary and laughable acting; Stay for a wonderfully over-the-top Michael Caine.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Noble . Selfless . Honourable . Just three words that can`t be used to
describe the modern environmental movement and before anyone accusses me of
being Dubya in disguise let me please point out that I used to be a member
of the environmental movement , and I know what I`m talking about and it`s
very fitting the most environmentally aware thriller Hollywood has ever
produced has got to be just about the dumbest movie in history
!!!! MILD SPOILERS !!!!!
Seagal has made an very entertaining film I`ll give him that much but does anyone seriously think it was supposed to be entertaining ? I doubt it since we`re bludgeoned over the head in almost scene as to how every single problem in the world is down to greedy oil companies and the ecological destruction they cause . I was actually under the impression man`s inhumanity to man might have everything to do with problems of the world ( Unfortunately this will never EVER change ) and boy does eco warrior Forrest Taft show an awful lot of inhumanity to his fellow man from the opening fight scene where he breaks every arm belonging to a red neck scumbag to blowing up a toy helicopter to wiping out a crack team of mercenaries hired by an especially evil - I`m talking EVIL - oil company boss Forrest murders a whole lot of people . Of course legally he might not face any criminal charges for doing this as it may be constued as self defence but at the end of the film he does blow up an oil rig almost certainly killing scores of innocent people who`s only crime seems to be working for an oil company . Oh I see Forrest they deserved to die because they worked for an EVIL oil company ? Not only does Forrest escape prosecution he gets to address the nation by making a speech as to how mankind is destroying the planet which is a bit rich coming from a man who`s just murdered scores of people . By the way Forrest are those crocodile shoes you`re wearing ?
We`re not just talking action movie star here , we`re talking Steven Seagal which means we`re talking several scenes where the evil - I mean EVIL - bad guys discuss who they`re up against and in one laughable scene we`re told " This guy`s the best . You leave him in the North Pole and next day he`ll turn up beside your swimming pool wearing a fur trimmed bikini " Did anyone else have a grotesque vision flowing through their head of Steven Seagal beside a swimming pool wearing a fur trimmed bikini ? Not a pretty sight is it
You have to wonder why such a talented cast would appear in a movie this bad but I guess the logical answer might be something to do with money . After all both Michael Caine and Billy Bob Thornton grew up in total poverty and there`s no way you can blame anyone for wanting to better themselves ( Even if it means working for an EVIL oil company ) and Caine at least treats the project with the contempt it deserves by doing his greatest ever bad performance as an EVIL oil company boss with a Texan/Cockney accent
It`s interesting to note that this movie more or less ended Seagal`s movie career . Even more interesting is the fact that since the mid 1990s the environmental movement has been losing support , Greenpeace for example has been losing members at a very steady rate in the last decade ( And they lost a member called Theo Robertson last year ) as people come round to the concept of universal free thinking replacing doom laden green rhetoric
In this Alaskan film, Joan Chen plays what is quite probably the last word
in Sino-Eskimo snow bunnies.
Eskimo Joan represents the same sort of Hollywood confusion about racial boundary lines which saw Larry Fishburne play the Moor of Venice, and Jackie Chan cast to play the King of Pop in an upcoming TV movie. (I'm kidding about one of these.) Not to mention generations of Italian and Jewish Indians, and more white actors in blackface than there are seeds in a watermelon.
Joan is teamed here with Steven Seagal, quite probably the last word in inarticulate and extremely violent tree-hugging Buddhists. Sort of the Billy Jack of the Barents Sea. His jacket has more fringe on it than you'd see at a reunion concert by the Buffalo Springfield.
Together, they try to build a world where an interracial couple can be happy in an oomiak built for two.
A number of years ago, I spent nearly 8 seconds at a book-signing in the presence of Michael Caine. For each of those seconds, he was extremely personable. So it's a bit of a revelation for me seeing him playing his two-faced vicious Hun of a smooth oil company CEO. Old favourite John C. McGinley also appears against type as one of Caine's nastier henchthugs.
Finally, there's Seagal's direction which takes his film on this ecological walk through the woods which makes it all seem a little like Oliver Stone after too many days trapped in a sweatlodge.
It's so ridiculous I actually found myself enjoying the whole thing quite a bit.
Well, as the IMdB reviews show, not everyone is a fan of this film. It's true that the philosophising and Eskimo mystique in the mid-section of the film do slow it down. It is also true that the closing environmental speech may be a tad heavy-handed. Yet I find it refreshing to see a large-budget action movie that actually tries to be about something. To his credit, Seagal's films have generally struck an anti-Establishment tone, in contrast to the complacent Republicanism of Schwarzenegger. Of course, having said all this, the tactics of Seagal's hero Forrest Taft, in blowing up large quantities of Alaska, are not perhaps what Greenpeace would recommend! As to the qualities of the film, there are some strong, savage action scenes, a stylish if over-the-top villain in Michael Caine, and wonderful photography. After all those "Die Hard"/"Under Siege" efforts, with characters running around claustrophobic buildings in semi-darkness, the panoramic views of Alaska make a nice change. Another good score by Basil Poledouris.
At the moment this shining Jewel of Seagal's career (if "shining jewel" is a euphimism for "noxious eye-cancer causing crime against humanity") ranks as #100 on the bottom 100 list. Steve must be sneaking into the IMDB under psuedonyms and propping this gargantuan waste of celluloid up to keep it from descending to the depths where it belongs. A truly bad movie needs three things: a decent budget (anyone can make a cheap piece of garbage, it takes true talent to do so with tens of millions available); a bad story; and bad acting. This one wins in spades. I haven't seen most of the 99 movies in the bottom 100 (thank God) but I did see "House of the Dead" which is currently #30 and "On Deadly Ground" is definitely worse than that (well, kind of like comparing pig droppings and horse leavings... they both stink but one is bigger). When I think "action movie" the first thing that comes to mind is "ecologically-minded"... well, at least this is what came to Seagal's mind. If it is any consolation it is that this is the movie which sent Steve on his path South, making his movie profits dwindle while his girth spiralled up to challenge that of the protagonist of "Free Willy." I saw Steve a few months back on a popular tv show here in Japan, comedian Sanma's "Koi no karasawagi," and I swear to God he was wearing a muumuu. Rest in Peace Segal's career. Please vote #1 for this so as to ensure it reaches the ranking it so richly deserves...
Good action but cheesy writing and mediocre direction by Mr. Seagal
himself doesn't exactly add up to mega-blockbuster hit but if you're a
fan of the man, the king of the karate cheeseballs, you won't be
disappointed. It "delivers" in a very Seagal way. And there are lots of
familiar faces here too, to add to the fun.
This movie is tons of fun but only if you're looking to have some fun. Don't buy into the enviro- hype and you'll get some good entertainment. I personally love Planet Earth but I don't look to gain awareness on any issue through a product of Hollywood.
I give this one 6/10, perhaps a point more if you're really a fan of the genre.
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