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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.82%
Worth A Look44.87%
Average: 26.92%
Pretty Bad: 7.69%
Total Crap: 7.69%

4 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Under Siege
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Solid Seagal vehicle, courtesy of Andrew Davis."
4 stars

In 'Under Siege,' a scrappy, disrespectful, but ingenious working-class guy finds himself isolated in a room while terrorists outside blast everything in sight. With only his wits and some firearms, the man runs around picking off the terrorists and formulating brilliant strategies. We might as well just call this 'Die Hard on a Boat,' but what the hell.

The man, a former Navy SEAL turned Navy cook, is Steven Seagal, who tosses a mean kitchen knife and can build a bomb from scratch in about the time it took you to read this sentence. So we don't worry too much about him. In the original Die Hard, Bruce Willis cut himself up trying to walk barefoot across a floor littered with broken glass. Steven Seagal would just eat the glass. Then he'd probably fart it back out at his enemies.

That's about all he doesn't do in Under Siege, yet the film does represent a change of pace for him. His past few movies (Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, Out for Justice) have been posturing urban nonsense, with Seagal chucking people out windows and disarming burglars in package stores. Here, he spends the whole film in enclosed quarters, with the ocean under his feet, and so he's forced to use his head as something more than a place to hang his ponytail (which, incidentally, has been snipped for this movie). Delivered from the back alleys and crack-dealer plots of his other films, Seagal seems ready for a smarter breed of action-adventure movie.

Under Siege unfolds aboard the USS Missouri (actually the decommissioned USS Alabama), a battleship on its final tour of the Pacific. With only a skeleton crew manning it, the Missouri presents a nice target for the terrorists, who take over the ship under the pretense of a surprise birthday party for its captain (Patrick O'Neal). The second-in-command (Gary Busey), who's in cahoots with head terrorist Tommy Lee Jones, shuts Seagal in the meat locker after Seagal decks him (Busey figures that placing Seagal under formal arrest would screw up the plan). So there Seagal sits, getting cold and pissed, until he escapes the meat locker and gives his fans what they paid for. Hi-yaaa!

Not that Seagal has a Bruce Lee death shout. His Aikido dazzles the eye he breaks limbs with amazingly fluid, looping motions but his facial expressions suggest a man eating cold cereal. This guy just doesn't seem ... into it. Demolishing his opponents with skull-powdering kicks and lightning-fast chops, Seagal has the blandly attentive pout of a kid playing pinball. (If I could do what he does, I'd look a lot happier about it, wouldn't you?) He does not have, to be sure, a lot of oomph in his acting. But he does have a solid screen presence (any actor who can break your face holds your attention) and a way of looking mildly amused by the fools who dare to start shit with him. That's about all he needs.

Seagal, it turns out, is only as good as his director. Under Siege reunites him with Andrew Davis, who directed Seagal's impressive debut, 1988's Above the Law (he also directed Chuck Norris' best movie, Code of Silence). I consider Davis a superior, overlooked craftsman on a par with John McTiernan (Die Hard) and Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games), two other guys who have no identifiable "style" but make exciting, meat-and-potatoes adventures distinguished by spatial and narrative clarity, varied compositions, and beautifully smooth action sequences that flow into each other like the panels of a great comic book. It's easy to gush over a Scorsese or a De Palma, but guys like Andrew Davis, with his solid, invisible technique, bring respectability back to the action genre. Watching Under Siege, you don't feel as if maybe you should've waited to catch it on video.

As for the Seagster, he forfeits the film to his co-stars. Gary Busey, a dependable character actor who's built a macho video cult of his own, feels secure enough to play his one big scene in drag; the moment makes almost no sense, but how many movies offer Gary Busey in a trampy dress? And Tommy Lee Jones, playing a psychotic ex-CIA operative in Gene Simmons drag, takes Under Siege to a different atmosphere. He brings a bored yet frightening authority to lines like "If you resist, we will kill you and the man next to you." You might ask, What's this Oscar nominee (for JFK) doing in a Steven Seagal movie? Answer: Having a king-hell good time.

"He's a professional," says Jones, admiring Seagal's handiwork on a pair of unfortunate terrorists. 'Under Siege' shines brightest when the real pros Davis, Busey, and Jones are at work.

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originally posted: 02/03/07 10:54:28
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User Comments

3/17/21 morris campbell not bad has great villians the sequel is better imho 3 stars
8/12/11 art segal was WOODEN,jones was HAMMY,eleniak was PATHETIC,need i say more? 2 stars
11/14/10 Tweeter & the Monkeyman Worth watching just to see Seagal in a chef's hat 4 stars
4/10/10 Jeff Wilder Seagal's best. Good action and Jones and Busey are great villains. 4 stars
6/23/09 Aaron Smith Seagal's style of action is my personal favorite. Tommy Lee is hilarious. 4 stars
1/27/08 Pamela White Segal is his usual controlled fury but this one gets long 3 stars
7/09/07 Eddy I would've just shot that whiny blond bitch 4 stars
2/14/07 johnnyfog Jones and Busey are much cooler than Segal. I wanted them to win 3 stars
1/13/07 Phil M. Aficionado It's a fun fireworks packed ride, thanks largely to Jones, and also Busey. 3 stars
1/09/07 layton59 Great Summary and Review from JS. I agree with everything JS says here. Under Siege rocks 5 stars
12/09/06 cindy l truitt steven seagal is a very good actor and martial artist,i love him so much 5 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Segal may be typecast, but his Aikido style is #1!!!! 5 stars
1/03/06 Anthony Feor Steven Segal cant act whatsoever, but when he fights, now that grabed my attention 4 stars
9/26/05 tony Was not as good as i thought it would be! I was dissapointed, i hope #2 is better! 3 stars
9/17/05 Michael All The Right Stuff 4 stars
8/19/05 ES forty highly trained, armed men are no match for an unarmed cook, ah hollywood 1 stars
4/15/05 Raymond Montoya Great Seaqal over comes all odds theme. love em 4 stars
3/23/05 Cheryl Free I love anything with Seagal in it! 5 stars
3/16/05 Chris Stephens standard Segall crap 3 stars
2/05/05 Jeff Anderson SEAGAL'S BEST OF ALL TIME, PERIOD! Jones & Busey ROCK! TAKE MY PIES OUTTA THE OVEN!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/22/05 Tjalda L. Schiel I love this movie even though I can't stand Steven Segal. Go Tommy, Go Gary, and Go Erika 5 stars
11/01/04 Charles S. Lewis spork-girl I suggest you go back to playing with your barbie dolls!! Both 1 & 2 are AWESOME 5 stars
5/16/04 John Segal is cheesy - movie is a pathetic DIE HARD rip off with none of its charm 1 stars
5/06/04 J.Peckerfoot i have never been keen on Steven 'straight to video' Segal 2 stars
5/03/04 Martin Segal is pathetic. 1 stars
2/02/04 Wendy Cool film, great action, great actors, even Steven Segal is ok in this! 4 stars
1/22/04 Jerome Under seige is my favorite move 5 stars
8/09/03 Pam Bereza Guess What....I don't have to see this film to know that Steven Segal Sucks!!!! 1 stars
8/06/03 P.Rodriguez Segal at his best,.........thats not saying much though 3 stars
7/26/03 3man Decent action movie on a unique enviroment. Jones was excellent. 4 stars
7/20/03 Leoperd if SNL says segal sucks, and spork-girl says segal sucks.. segal probably does really suck. 2 stars
7/12/03 Stefan Halka Seagal's only finest, quality film to date. 4 stars
4/12/03 Jack Sommersby A great action pic. Performances, dialogue, fight scenes -- all wonderful. 4 stars
2/19/03 Matthew Jones Got Steven Seagal, kick-ass fight scenes, and a famous U.S. battleship. What more is there? 5 stars
1/31/03 Sugarfoot Enjoyable, But Seagal is about as believeable as a cook as George W. Bush is as Einstein 3 stars
10/15/02 Charles Tatum The boat turns in a better performance than Seagal 3 stars
8/09/02 STEVE THIS MOVIE STINKS! the sequal is better and gets an awsome 1 stars
3/07/02 Marcia Lartz Steven Seagal goes more mainstream in his first movie without a three-word title. 4 stars
2/17/02 R.W. Welch Not bad for a Seagal flick; Jones provides some interest. 3 stars
1/18/02 Andrew Carden It Was OK...but In Most Point Of View...It Was Very Bland. 3 stars
10/06/01 Jake Very impressive. Die Hard on a ship. Thats a compliment. 4 stars
8/09/01 Mr. Hat Pretty damn cool. 3 stars
12/25/00 Ro Only worth it for Tommy Lee Jones (who's a babe). 1 stars
12/02/00 Phil One of Tommy Lee Jones' greatest performances + Seagal breaking bones = AWESOME FLICK! 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla it all worked out for me, but, yeah, he's lucky of pulling this one out 4 stars
3/20/00 arnold best segal flick which is not saying much 3 stars
12/06/99 Bill Strannix Hey, man, I should have lived. Little Segal fucker's a wuss. 3 stars
7/05/99 Ben Leostein Rating: ** (out of ****) Category: "Above Average" 4 stars
11/27/98 little jerry At least you'll never have to watch Seagal again 'cause this is as good as he'll get. 3 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob At least Willis and Arnie are fun to watch...... 2 stars
10/25/98 Johny Even if it was a ripoff of Die Hard it's enjoyable 4 stars
9/05/98 pooky the bald Dude, this is worth two stars just for Erika Elaniak's perfect perfect perfect titties. 2 stars
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  09-Oct-1992 (R)



Directed by
  Andrew Davis

Written by
  J.F. Lawton

  Steven Seagal
  Tommy Lee Jones
  Erika Elaniak
  Lee Hinton
  Gary Busey
  Patrick O'Neal

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