Special Guest Review! Danny Miller takes on Seagal in
On Deadly Ground
Starring: Steven Seagal, Michael Caine, Joan Chen Directed by: Steven Seagal
The Story: I hate Steven Seagal. I used to like him, but that was when I liked stupid, brainless action movies with lots of explosions and gunfights. But Seagal just plain sucks. He never gets shot, never gets his ass kicked, even though every other action movie star, from Schwarzenegger to Stallone, from Chuck Norris to Jean-Claude Vanne Damme have gotten their asses handed to them, yet always comes back stronger than ever. The fact that his enemies never ever get a hit in makes Seagal look absolutely sadistic when he beats them up, especially the fact that his enemies tend to be smaller than him. And he always has that stupid ponytail in each one of his movies (except Under Siege and Exit Wounds).
This his directorial and writing debut, should be more than enough proof that some action stars shouldn't direct.
Okay enough Seagal bashing, on with the movie.
Seagal plays Forrest Taft, an Aegis Oil company worker in Alaska, who specializes in oil spills and fires. As the movie opens a helicopter carrying Forrest arrives at a particularly bad oil fire at one of Aegis's rigs. As Forrest gets out of the 'copter the rig foreman, Hugh Palmer, tells Forrest that the fire was started by a faulty preventer that the head of Aegis Oil, Jennings (Michael Caine) forced him to use. Jennings however, who is on the site, claims the fire was Hugh's fault. Hugh then calls Forrest a whore (so far he's the most likeable character). Forrest then inspects the rig and the preventer, before stopping the fire by pressing a detonator to already rigged explosives ( he was there for that?), in the rig. The job done, Forrest then heads onto the helicopter and back to civilization.
Forrest celebrates inside a bar, where in a rip-off of Billy Jack, a drunken Eskimo is being harassed by Big Mike, an asshole oil worker. Forrest however doesn't do anything about it. Hugh arrives and continues the preventer topic and tells him to check the companies requisition file, while Forrest informs him that he left his gear up at Hugh's place, and is going into the woods for a bit. Hugh leaves, and the first big fight scene in the movie begins. Big Mike splashes beer in the face of the Eskimo, which causes Forrest to lay waste to Mike's dozen or so buddies, all without getting hurt himself. Then comes time to fight Big Mike. Which he does very sadistically. Then, in on of the most surprising parts of the movie, he asks him "What does it take to change the essence of a man?", to which Mike replies "Time, I need time to change." This is supposed to make our hero look good? Beating the crap out of him, then asking him a Zen question? Man, Seagal sure makes Buddhists look bad. Give me a [unwrite]ing break.
We now go to a commercial that Jennings is shooting to make him look like a good guy, complete with him asking for a washcloth after touching a reindeer. Ok Steve, we get it, he's the bad guy, we don't need any other clues to tell us that. This is like an episode of Captain Planet. Hell, I'd rather watch an episode of Captain Planet than sit through this [unwrite] hole of a movie again.
The movie then informs us that Aegis 1, soon to be the largest oil rig on the planet, has fallen behind schedule, and only has two weeks to get operational, or else the land rights go back to the Eskimos. Of course the bad preventers are to be used in the construction of Aegis 1, as it will take 90 days for a new shipment to get in, which is time Aegis Oil doesn't have. Jennings also finds out that Hugh Palmer has been telling the EPA about the preventers, and sends henchmen MacGruder (John C. McGinely) and Otto (Sven Thorsen), to Hugh's house. Kevin Smith fans might recognize Otto as La Fours, the feared mall security guard in Mallrats.
Hugh had just got done downloading the requisition file on Aegis 1 and hides the disk just before MacGruder and Otto arrive. The poor old man is then tied down, tortured with a pipe cutter and then killed.
At a press conference given by Jennings, a young Eskimo woman, Masu (Joan Chen) shows up and throws oil onto Jennings suit, pissing him off. Jennings then sends Forrest to check out an accident at a substation, which is a trap set by Jennings, after he found that Forrest knew about the preventers. However, Forrest finds Hugh's body inside and runs out of the substation just before it is blown up. The bad guys, thinking he's dead, take off. Forrest is then found by Eskimos and taken to their camp.
Meanwhile, at another press conference, Jennings tells them that the rig and substation were sabotaged by Forrest and Hugh, and that there are no more worries.
At the Eskimo camp, the chief awakens Forrest, accompanied by Masu, who turns out to be the chiefs daughter. Forrest is then recognized as the bear spirit (now we have this mystical seer [unwrite]), and is asked to go on a journey to reawaken the bear within. He wrestles a bear (Bart the bear, a noticeably better actor than Seagal), falls into an icy river, and has to pick between an old woman and a hot naked Eskimo. It's pretty obvious that the old woman is the Spirit of the Earth, because I don't think that a wise being would be writhing on the floor like she was in a bad porno flick, which, ironically, is what we'd rather be watching.
The old woman tells Forrest he is the savior of the earth, and that he should start about his mission.
Keep in mind that, with the exception of the river, all of the tests Forrest did, were in his mind.
MacGruder, looking for Forrest (his body was never found), lands the helicopter at the Eskimo camp. Getting into a fight, MacGruder shoots the chief, and then leaves. Seagal then arrives, and is handed an amulet or something like it by the chief, and then watches the old guy die. Taking a snowmobile the tribe hid for "emergencies", they head for Hugh's place.
At Hugh's place, Forrest and Masu find it a wreck. Forrest grabs his gear he put in Hugh's closet, and is shocked to find the disk he downloaded in his pack.
However Otto and several other henchmen armed with machine guns arrive at Hugh's and are soon also decimated as Forrest brutally takes all five of the henchmen out, including Otto.
After which MacGruder finally gets a team of mercenaries in headed by Stone (R. Lee Ermey, the Drill Instructor from Full Metal Jacket), to take out Forrest and find out he is so super secret that he doesn't show up on their ID checks.
Meanwhile, Forrest and Masu head to a friends place, where Forrest sees what was on the disk and then makes a Fox Mulder type conspiracy theory speech about repressed technology and some other crap. Soon after our Eco-Heros arrive at a mountain cabin, where Forrest had stockpiled a large amount of explosives.
The mercenaries (including Billy Bob Thorton) find Forrest, but have to get him on horseback.
The rest I'll just mention in passing. Their helicopter is blown up, two of the mercs are killed by one of Forrest's traps, and the rest are halted when Forrest widens a chasm with explosives.
Now it's time for Forrest to get revenge and destroy Aegis 1 before it blows up, and spills oil into the waters below.
This part always gets me. Wouldn't destroying the rig just speed up the destruction process? But as Forrest being the Hero, such questions are never asked.
The rest of the movie follows Forrest as he kills the remaining mercenaries (including Billy Bob), sabotages the rig and then kills MacGruder after he tried to escape (what a Hero). We then learn that by imploding the preventer an oil spill will be prevented. Now for the stupidest part of the movie.
Stone surprises the unarmed Forrest and Masu, with a shotgun, but instead of shooting them from a distance, like any smart person would have done, he walks up to Forrest while talking, enabling him to flip the shotgun over and shooting Stone in the process.
While escaping Forrest finds Jennings trying to restore the rig. Forrest then grabs Jennings, hangs him upside down from a hook, then shoots the cable holding him, sending Jennings screaming into a pool of oil below, killing him. They then leave the rig as it blows up behind them.
Next thing we know, Forrest is at the state capital, giving a meeting about environmentalism. For the next three minutes we are treated to a very boring speech given by Seagal, to which I would rather remove my internal organs with a rusty bread knife than sit through it again. Thankfully, the movie finally ends.
Best Lines: "For $340,000 I'd [unwrite] anything once!"-Forrest, replying to Hugh's "You're a whore" line, which we all know is true.
"We aren't dealing with a student here, we're dealing with a professor."-Stone, in the movies big "this guy is good" speech. There is more, but I couldn't include it here, so be sure to check out Jabootu.com's review of this movie, it's a lot funnier.
Are You Kidding Me?
1.) Why would Aegis purposely use faulty preventers in their rigs? It's not to save money, because it would cost more to replace damaged rigs then the substandard parts cost difference could ever make. That would be a pretty stupid money-making decision, and no major corporation would ever do so.
2.) The way Seagal beats up Big Mike was very sadistic. Mike was an asshole, but Seagal should have at least let Mike get one hit in. He even plays a hand slap game with him. I would have just beat the [unwrite] out of Seagal when he was holding his hands out for God's sake!
3.) Once they had the disk, Masu said that they should go to the press with their findings, which Seagal doesn't do, mumbling something about how it won't stop the repression of technology. And destroying Aegis 1 will? Besides, going to the authorities and press would be the reasonable thing to do, and everything we've seen so far shows us that that's the last thing Forrest will do.
4.) Why wasn't Forrest arrested and charged with murder, reckless endangerment, and destruction of private property? He basically went in and sabotaged Aegis 1, meaning that each person he killed was a felony. Plus he murdered both MacGruder and Jennings in cold blood, while they were trying to get away! Sure, they deserved it but man that was depraved!
Nudity and Sex: No sex, but several breasts are shown in quick fashion and an Eskimo is shown in brief full frontal shots.
Huh?: Jennings sure acts more like a comic book villain than an owner of a major company. How many corporations do you think would really murder their employees, and hire mercenaries, to do their dirty work?
Forrest is not much of a hero. He basically wins every fight he gets into, then decides to blow up an oil rig. The way he acts is strangely both extremely right and left wing, in a feat I think is only topped by L. Brent Bozell III and his PTC group. Hell at one point, he even tells Jennings, "I've always wondered: what do you ask a man with no conscience? I would be pretty stupid to tell you about the millions of people you've made suffer, and think that you'd care." Of course, he'd be pretty stupid to think that we'd care either.
Why are all the minorities in this movie stereotyped? All of the Eskimos are treated as mystical seers, who can see into the future and have spirits. Come on. What's next? I was almost expecting someone to throw garbage on the side of the road and having the chief cry a single tear. They couldn't even get a proper minority to play Masu. As you can probably tell, Joan Chen is Chinese, yet they have her play an Eskimo, which is a branch of the Native Americans, right.
The Final Judgement: Steven Seagal blows donkeys and this movie is proof.
For being the film equivalent of the torture rack, iron maiden, and cat o' nine tails in one, I now sentence On Deadly Ground to the burning oil fires of the Inferno, where it will be sadistically beaten by the Devil for all eternity.
From the Inferno: Woof! I haven't seen this movie in years, but after reading this review I think that makes me lucky!