Under Siege (1992)

Posted in Reviews by - July 19, 2013
Under Siege (1992)

Seagal’s most popular film is a stocky, ham fisted, cliché ridden macho fest of the highest order, and probably the pinnacle of his bone-busting career, which speaks volumes. As great action movies go, this is up there with the likes of Commando and Die Hard, but that may be because this is essentially just Die Hard on a boat.

Not just any boat, mind. We’re on board the iconic USS Missouri battleship, location for the Japanese surrender which ultimately ended the Second World War. On its final voyage, the entertainment – a country band led by Tommy Lee Jones on full lunatic mode – whip out heavy rounds of artillery and shoot their way into the control room, holding the crew hostage and locking the ship’s missiles onto Honolulu, for some reason.

But they don’t bank on the ship’s chef – ex-Navy SEAL Casey Ryback (Seagal, complete with trademark ponytail). Demoted due to his renegade antics (“Sometimes you gotta question authority”), he can still manufacture highly dangerous explosives from little more than a condom and some string.

Ryback is considered a threat by the terrorists and chucked into a fridge, only for him to fight his way out and stay incognito long enough to free a rabble of plucky hostages and sort them into a crack team of resistance fighters. This includes a buxom stripper (Eleniak, from Baywatch) who successfully meets the film’s chauvinistic quota of both nudity and dumbness.

Director Andrew Davis would hone his more political muscles a year later on The Fugitive, but thankfully he lets Seagal’s muscles take centre stage here. It’s a perfect vehicle for the actor’s steely wisdom, violent chops and limited vocabulary. Endearingly, he takes the film quite seriously, especially compared to Jones and Gary Busey who both seem to be having a great time.

Like the best and most dated action films, the line between being so-bad-it’s-good and genuinely exciting is a blurry one. But it’s bullshit at its best, and Seagal has been chasing this dream ever since.

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