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  1. #1
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    Apr 2002

    A DVD REVIEW: UNDER SIEGE (Warner Brothers)

    "You're in the Navy now, remember? It's not just a's an adventure...."
    -Steven Seagal, Under Siege

    To me, this was the best Steven Seagal action film he ever did. And absolutely forget the awful sequel in which Seagal returned, dubbed Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, another title I forgot to put on my "worst sequels of all time" list, because that one doesnt even compare to this original (the first film finds Seagal on a battleship, the second one finds him on a train......go figure.....)

    Out of all the overtly cheesy action films Seagal did --- Above The Law, Marked For Death, Out For Justice, etc., this title always had a soft spot in my cinema heart for some reason --- the acting is pretty funny and laughable, as support performances by Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones are cheesily fantastic, but Seagal kicks everyone's ass in a more classy way in this flick --- a horribly poor example of one of his hammy lines is quoted above, where he says to a laundry kid who doesnt want to help him retake their hijacked battleship: "You're in the Navy now, remember? Its not just a job.....its an adventure...." The way in which Seagal delivers this line and his awful facial gestures is just laughable and you'll cringe watching it.

    The plot, you ask, if you havent seen this yet? Well, if you look at the back of the cheap, typical snapper case Warner Brothers DVD box, it boldly proclaims that this is "Die Hard on a Battleship!" Seagal plays Casey Ryback, a cook aboard the USS Missouri, the battleship built to avenge Pearl Harbor as well as the ship on which the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II.....but it seems Seagal is more than a cook....he is an ex-SEAL commando, with the rank of cook because he belted out his last captain. Unknown to him or the crew, the ship, while preparing for a supposed surprise party for the captain, is taken over by terrorists posing as the caterers and the band, lead by a psycho Tommy Lee Jones. Gary Busey plays the executive officer of the Missouri, who is in on the whole seems Jones' character was an ex-operative who was supposed to be killed by the US government and in taking revenge for this, he manages to take control of this battleship, with the help of Busey, and their goal is to offload the valuable Tomahawk missiles onto a submarine in which they are going to sell the missiles on the black market. But Jones doesnt only want to rob the missiles --- he has a plan to launch two Tomahawks at Hawaii. Once escaping from a refrigerator Busey had him locked in, Seagal turns into his usual kick-everyone's-ass-bad-boy-martial-arts-master and begins to take out all the members of Jones' terrorist team aboard the ship, with the aid of a drop-dead gorgeous Playboy Playmate that was supposed to jump out of the captain's birthday cake at the party (you gotta see this girl's tits and ass in the G-string she pops out of the cake in.....oh my God.....) along with some other soldiers aboard the Missouri. In the meantime, the Pentagon learn of Jones' taking over the ship, as well as Busey's involvement, and under Jones' threat to launch Tomahawk missiles at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. plan a counter-attack from the air to destroy the Missouri. The only problem is, this is one of the most powerful --- if not THE most powerful --- battleship on the seas, so the weaponry onboard is ready for any move the Pentagon makes against them. The ship's only hope of being overtaken, after a SEAL attack helicopter is shot down, is Seagal and his team, who use the cannons aboard the Missouri to destroy the submarine getting the Tomahawks offloaded, killing Busey in the process, and the film concludes with Jones finally cracking up and launching two Tomahawks right at Hawaii.....what ensues, of course, is a hand to hand combat fight between Seagal and Jones, who seem to know each other, but the fight doesnt last very long, as Seagal ends up putting Jones' head through a TV monitor.

    The issue now is to deal with the two Tomahawk missiles streaming toward of them gets destroyed by a U.S. fighter plane but the other one slips through, and Seagal must get a destroy code from the Pentagon in order to destroy the missile from inside the Missouri.

    This may not be any other Seagal fan's favorite film of his, but I simply love Under Siege for what it is --- an awesome action picture. Like I said, dont go into this expecting exceptional acting because its not going to happen (does this happen in ANY Seagal film?) but because of good performances by Busey and Jones, it saves this film from the plague of atrocious acting in Seagal's Out For Justice with him and William was that bad.....

    This DVD is packaged in the typical Warner Brothers cheap style --- that is, one of those snapper case packages with the flimsy carboard inlay; this is also another one of those "flipper discs," with a full frame version of the film on one side and widescreen version on the other.


    I used to watch this title in full frame mode on my old Sony 27" set, and it never really looked all that hot to me, but watching it on the flip side, with its either 1:78:1 or 1:85:1 (this is Warner Brothers again) widescreen transfer which filled up my 55" screen, it seems Under Siege was pretty decent to look at after all. A nice, solid transfer from Warner; there is a bit of shadowing around the opening credits and a SLIGHT bit of dirt on the print in the very, very beginning sequences, but as the DVD rolls on, the picture clears right up and colors are accurate and there's no grain to speak of, believe it or this Warner Brothers action title to another in their vault, the Kurt Russell thriller Executive Decision, and you'll see the difference immediately in the quality between the two discs; I did a review of Executive Decision on another home theater site and ripped the disc to pieces technically because it downright sucked....there was dirt all over the transfer and the audio was ****ty, to boot. Under Siege looked much better in widescreen than Executive Decision. The next time I pull Executive Decision off the shelf to watch (I may just do it tonight) I'll do a complete review on it for you fine folks in here; the deficiencies on the disc were confirmed by Sir Terrence himself, who agreed with me that Executive Decision looked and sounded like an embarassment for Warner.


    This is a hard one to judge because there are some things that this Dolby 5.1 mix does right, yet falls short in the same breath.....first of all, out of MOST of Warner's standard Dolby 5.1 soundtracks on their titles, believe it or not, Under Siege carries a pretty lively dialogue track that can be heard above other things going on in the mix --- this cant be said for most of Warner's other titles on DVD, believe me. I own and have reviewed plenty of them. Unfortunately, for such an action heavy film, this is a front-focused audio affair, with excellent left to right stereo separation with onscreen action, yet very little in terms of surround information. Not much makes it to the surrounds, except for the rare bullet "ping" during a firefight (during these gun fights aboard the Missouri gunfire is EXCEPTIONALLY loud and blaring from the center channel which was nice) or some rear support for explosions; but in general, there is not much surround activity on this Dolby 5.1 mix. Explosions are accompanied not by wall-shaking LFE, but decent bass rumble; all in all, a decent audio effort from Warner here.

    SPECIAL FEATURES, for this pretty stripped edition of the DVD, included:

    -Interactive Menus
    -Production Notes
    -Scene Access
    -Theatrical Trailer

  2. #2
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    Jun 2005
    cincinnati, ohio


    I agree, it's his best movie to date and for an early warner bros.dvd it looks & sounds pretty good.

    another good review !


  3. #3
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    Apr 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by steamboy 2
    I agree, it's his best movie to date and for an early warner bros.dvd it looks & sounds pretty good.

    another good review !


    Absolutely agreed, Mike....this DID look and sound pretty good for an early Warner release; Im going to do a review of Executive Decision, which was a bad example of Warner's early DVD efforts, especially in the dialogue section, and you'll see the difference in writing, if you never viewed Executive Decision on DVD.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read the review and your kind words, once again!

  4. #4
    Feel the Tempo eisforelectronic's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
    I thought Katherine Heigel was more than enough to make up for any shortcomings of the second movie.

    oh and "chance favors the prepared mind"
    Audio Physic Avanti IV w/upgraded mids and crossover
    Emotiva UMC-1
    Emotiva XPA-3
    Peachtree Audio iNova
    Rega Brio-R
    Rega RP-1
    Sony PS3
    BAT VK-D5se
    Totem Acoustic Dreamcatchers

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