Overall | Nico: Above the Law (1988) | Hard to Kill (1990) | Out for Justice (1991) | Under Siege (1992)

Steven Seagal Collection 1988-1992 (1988)

Steven Seagal Collection 1988-1992 (1988)

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Released 13-Nov-2002

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Overall Package

    The blandly-named Steven Seagal Collection 1988-1992, as its name pretty much spells out, is a box set compilation of Steven Seagal movies, specifically Nico: Above The Law, Hard To Kill, Out For Justice, and the unexpectedly rather good Under Siege. The discs presented in this gatefold package with a slipcase cover are identical to those currently available separately, but priced at a discount to the individual movies. Buying each movie separately (at $24.95 each) would set you back $99.80, but this box set is available for $79.95.

    Included in the box set is a token booklet which essentially reproduces the chapter listings and back covers of the previously released DVDs. About the only other difference with this box set is that the first two discs are now picture discs, but the content and mastering of the discs remain identical to the previous releases.

    Is this box set worth it? If you are a Seagal fan, then you don't need me to tell you that it is good value for money. If you're not a fan, then you're probably not even reading this review. Having said that, there is something to be said about Seagal movies: they don't promise anything they don't deliver. If you want mindless action, with Seagal kicking bad guy butt into the middle of tomorrow, then this might just be right up your alley.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Saturday, November 30, 2002
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Nico: Above the Law (1988) | Hard to Kill (1990) | Out for Justice (1991) | Under Siege (1992)

Nico: Above the Law (1988)

Nico: Above the Law (1988)

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Released 11-Jun-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 95:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Andrew Davis
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Pam Grier
Sharon Stone
aniel Faraldo
Henry Silva
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music David Frank


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Once again delving into the back catalogue of Warners releases that have escaped our reviewers' scrutiny, we unfortunately dig out of my collection a rather early - well actually the earliest - Steven Seagal film. Now, don't get me wrong, I quite enjoy his movies. At least you know that you can check your brain at the door, spread a sheet across the floor in front of the television and gather several large tubs of popcorn in readiness for the evening's viewing. Why the sheet? Because it makes it easier to clean up the mess made when you throw the popcorn at the screen in response to each ludicrous and/or inane piece of dialogue, each blatant plot canyon and each ridiculous and heavily-outnumbered fight sequence which he of course always wins, usually without a d*** scratch. As ever in a Steven Seagal film, all of these things and more are in absolute abundance here. But really, the lack of substance or variety to his films is almost as appalling as Jean Claude Van Damme's - and rather worryingly these two probably have the largest number of their films on Region 4 DVDs. I mean, pick any film and you have basically seen them all.

    This incarnation starts in 1973 with Nico Toscani (Steven Seagal) having been recruited into The Company (otherwise known as the CIA) to engage in covert operations in Vietnam and Cambodia. Following a rather inconsiderate disagreement with Zagon (Henry Silva) over the fact that he seems to be using the CIA as a cover for his personal drug-dealing activities, Nico departs the CIA. Jump forward to Chicago, 1988 and Nico is now married to Sara (Sharon Stone) and working for the Chicago Police Department with his partner Delores Jackson (Pam Grier). As an aside here, I guess that the whole "thing" about the CIA operating outside the law and financing its activities from drug money have been done to death, but will we ever know the truth? Anyway, basically the whole film is about the efforts of Nico to expose the corruption of his former employer and bring to justice the bad guys. Ummm, where have I read this plot before? Along the way we get ample opportunity for all the clichéd bad guys, the usual spate of ludicrous fight scenes, and generally good triumphing over evil.

    Well, no one ever accused any Steven Seagal movie of being original and in that respect the only original thing about this film is the fact that it is the first Steven Seagal take on the clichéd corrupt cop routine. Obviously, he cannot act to save his life and so just plays himself, which is not too bad an idea as it is claimed to be an almost autobiographical film - although his alleged involvement with the CIA remains unsubstantiated at this time. Pam Grier was obviously brought in as the serious actor to lend some credence to the film, but she ends up being almost as bad as everyone else - although with the dialogue on offer here it is little wonder. Sharon Stone looks quite plain (well at least as plain as she can look) but at least is worthwhile looking at - even though her acting ability is not especially wondrous either. As for the rest? Forget it. They can be summed up as a bunch of hacks trying to act and failing quite miserably at it. Surprisingly, someone actually owned up to directing this piece of rubbish and his name is Andrew Davis - but since he was also the producer along with Steven Seagal, I suppose he could hardly be held blameless in any form anyway.

    So really what we have on offer here is a over-clichéd, badly-written screenplay, full of over-clichéd characters, brought to life (I use the phrase in the loosest possible sense) by a bunch of inept actors who fail miserably at just about every level in a film that completely lacks any sort of direction. So really, this is just another patented Steven Seagal film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a fairly typical run-of-the-mill transfer, decent enough but not as good as perhaps it should have been. It is not really a sharp transfer, and at times is just a little too close to a soft transfer although with adequate-enough definition. Overall, this simply lacks the sparkle of a sharp, clear, well-defined transfer. The picture is a little grainy at times, which is a reflection of the lack of clarity in the transfer. Shadow detail was in general nothing more than decent. There appear to be no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    This presents a slightly muted palette of colours and is not anything approaching a vibrant transfer - again quite typical of a Steven Seagal film. There is no hint of oversaturation in the transfer at all, and the transfer rarely conveys any sort of life. Really, this is quite an underdone effort, but probably a reflection of the way the film was shot anyway - I cannot imagine that this had a seriously-sized budget. Of particular note is the rather poor efforts at blood - rather too obviously of the fake variety.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There did not appear to be any really significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, although minor aliasing was quite prevalent if you looked for it and there seemed to be occasional problems with jitter in the image. There were a few noticeable film artefacts floating around but nothing too distracting.

Audio

    As seems to be rather typical of Steven Seagal films, there are three audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I listened to the English default.

    Dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand.

    There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.

    The score by David M. Frank is hardly the most compelling thing I have ever heard, but then again the film would hardly inspire one to contemplate writing something along the lines of Mozart's Requiem Mass. Full of clichés, I guess in that respect it suits the film rather well.

    This is an adequate enough 5.1 soundtrack, rather lacking in detail, with the surrounds and bass channels barely getting a decent workout, even during the explosions. There was rather limited action out of the rear channels and this really should have been a lot better. The sound is rather congested and muddied at times, so the overall soundscape is hardly the most natural-sounding effort I have ever heard. Not the best that I have ever heard, and frankly a little underdone for a 5.1 effort, but nonetheless an adequate effort.

Extras

    Come on, it is a Warners release - what the heck do you expect?

Menu

    Yes it has one, of no use to man nor beast and if you are really bothered, pretty ordinary.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     You would have to be a really die hard fan to want two versions of this film on the same disc, so the Region 4 release is the version of choice owing to the inherent superiority of the PAL system. Note that the film goes by the title of Above The Law in the USA.

Summary

    Well, it is probably not the worst film Steven Seagal has ever made other than the fact that it can be blamed for every other Steven Seagal film ever made. I mean, if this had completely bombed at the box office, and to be honest it really should have done, maybe none of the others would have been made (and with perhaps the exceptions of Under Siege and possibly Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, who would really have cared?). An ordinary DVD from a technical point of view and fairly typical of what we have come to expect from Warners over the last eight months or so. If you really have a need, rent first but really there are better ways of spending money and wasting an evening.

    An adequate video transfer.

    An adequate audio transfer.

    A non-existent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, June 24, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
DVD Net - Terry O

Comments (Add)
is this r4 version or the r2 version -

Overall | Nico: Above the Law (1988) | Hard to Kill (1990) | Out for Justice (1991) | Under Siege (1992)

Hard to Kill (1990)

Hard to Kill (1990)

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Released 2-Apr-1999

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Biographies-Cast
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 92
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bruce Malmuth
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Kelly Le Brock
Bill Sadler
Frederick Coffin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music David Michael Frank


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent - the blood bank". Ahh, a Steven Seagal movie. With unmistakable lines like this one scattered throughout the movie, there can be no doubt that this is what you are watching.

    Steven Seagal movies are very much like porno flicks, except that most of the gratuitous sex has been replaced with gratuitous violence. The plots and the dialogue are of the same standard, which is to say that they are completely superfluous to the action on screen.

    In fact, the plots of Steven Seagal movies are always the same - law enforcement officer Seagal has had his family shot or threatened and he is out for revenge or to protect his family. Lots of gratuitous violence occurs. Minor characters are killed seemingly by being slapped in the face or by some other trivial mode of injury. More important characters are killed in more novel and more spectacular fashions. Seagal comes out on top. The movie ends.

    Mason Storm (Steven Seagal) is a Los Angeles detective who gets some dirt on a prospective Californian Senator. The Senator gets wind of what is going on, and Storm's family is killed. Storm is left for dead, but after being in a coma for seven years, he wakes up and is quickly back to his old self. Of course, he wants revenge, so with the aid of a bizarrely-accented Kelly Le Brock, he goes and gets it.

    Steven Seagal movies work on several levels. Firstly, they work on the gratuitous violence level, of which there is plenty in this movie. Secondly, they work on their unintentional comedic qualities. Both the dialogue and the delivery of the dialogue in his movies is so bad that they are hysterically funny. Action, and unintentional comedy - what a combination!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is good, and belies the age of the movie.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The other side of the disc carries a Pan & Scan presentation of the movie.

    The transfer was mostly clear and sharp, though a number of scenes here and there were a bit on the grainy side. Shadow detail was lacking, with most dark scenes just being black with little detail in them. Nonetheless, no low level noise spoiled these scenes.

    The colours were a little on the oversaturated side, but were generally acceptable.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent. Film artefacts were present more often than I would have expected, but they were always minor and acceptable.

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack.I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was a little on the muffled side, but remained clearly understandable throughout, not that this matters much in a movie of this ilk.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The musical score was by David Michael Frank, and sounded very dated indeed.

     The surround channels had little to do in this movie, with the mix essentially being centre channel for dialogue, left and right front for music, and ping-pong left and right front for special effects. This was a very poorly integrated mix, as the mix tended to distract from the on-screen action by virtue of the extreme placement of effects to the left or right for no apparent reason.

   The .1 channel received a limited amount of signal at times but was basically silent.

Extras

    Only extremely limited extras are on this disc.

Menu

    The main menu is plain and functional. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Cast Biographies

    There are only two of these, though they are reasonably comprehensive.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on Production Notes and Trailers for other Stephen Seagal movies - nothing of any consequence. Call this one even.

Summary

    Hard To Kill is worth a rental, but unless you are a Steven Seagal fan, I don't think I'd bother buying this disc. The disc itself is fine.

    The video quality is good, especially considering the age of the movie.

    The audio quality is passable.

    The extras present are very very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 18, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
DVD Net - Terry O

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Nico: Above the Law (1988) | Hard to Kill (1990) | Out for Justice (1991) | Under Siege (1992)

Out for Justice (1991)

Out for Justice (1991)

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Released 10-Jan-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 87:40
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Flynn
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
William Forsythe
Jerry Orbach
Jo Champa
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music David Michael Frank


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There is something comfortable about a Steven Seagal film. You pretty well know the plot before you start, you pretty well know what is going to happen in the film before you start and when the film is all over, it sort of feels like a Chinese meal. And every time another incarnation of the Steven Seagal patented story appears in Region 4, one has to question why the largest number of DVD releases in Region 4 seem to come from two of the worst actors around - JCVD and SS. Still, with SS you occasionally luck out with an incarnation of the patented SS story that actual turns out to be an enjoyable enough film (unlike the patented JCVD story). Regrettably this is not one of those occasions.

    If you really need the plot for this non-epic, I would suggest that you look up any of the previous reviews of his films. Doesn't matter which one, the story will be pretty much the same. Hard To Kill or The Glimmer Man will do. Just change the cast a little, change the bad guys a little and you are basically there. This particular incarnation sees Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) hunting down the cold blooded murderer of his cop buddy Bobby Lupo (Joe Spataro) and using it as an excuse to beat the living daylights out of an improbably large number of hood-like characters (without getting a scratch), tossing in a number of gratuitous murders - err, justifiable homicides - of his own. The bad guy in this effort is drug-crazed Richie Madano (William Forsythe). Naturally the good guy wins and the bad guys lose - hey, what else do you expect? Oh sorry, yes there are some decent looking babes to add some floss here and there. And that is about all you have to know about the plot.

    And of course given the completely formulaic nature of the patented SS story, we get an equally formulaic display of what in the loosest possible way is described as acting. We all know that SS cannot act to save his life (must have taken lessons from JCVD) but the rest of the cast do their damnedest to prove that lack of acting ability is an absolute requirement for a part in an SS film. Being cynical, the only reason that SS continues to appear in films is because he produces the d*** things. Nothing else about this effort is remotely worth worrying about, as you are not seeing anything remotely close to good film making here.

    Even by Steven Seagal's comparatively low standards, this is a pretty poor effort. He did make a couple of better films and they are coming out shortly, so if you really need a fix of Steven Seagal just wait a little while longer and get Under Siege or Under Siege 2. They are demonstrably better incarnations of the patented SS story.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Well, I may have serious reservations about the film but I have no reservations about the transfer. I know it is a shocker.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is (apparently) 16x9 enhanced.

    This is an absolute shocker of a transfer for a film of its age. The transfer lacks definition almost throughout the film, with at times an appalling lack of depth to the picture. At one point the background is so out of focus that I swear the bus has a ghost image. To describe this transfer as soft and lacking detail is to seriously understate the situation. This is so bad that there are some quite obvious sequences where even the main action is completely out of focus. If you do not believe me check out the sequence between 37:15 and 37:45 and tell me that you think it is in sharp focus. At times the transfer loses a lot of clarity and becomes quite grainy in appearance. Shadow detail is perversely reasonably decent for some reason. There appear to be no problems with low level noise in the transfer. Overall, I have seen better VHS tapes than this effort.

    This presents a decidedly muted palette of colours and is virtually completely lacking in vibrancy. What makes it worse is there are odd occasions when the transfer becomes quite sharp and the colours come up quite well in comparison. You would be hard pushed to find anything that would be classified as oversaturated in this transfer.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Mercifully, film artefacts did not appear to be a problem with the transfer.

Audio

    And the shocking video transfer is at least bettered by an adequate soundtrack.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Since I did not feel like being too adventurous, I listened to the English default.

    Dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand.

    There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.

    The score by David Michael Frank (which sounds like a name someone made up to hide their involvement with the film) is without merit and completely trite.

    This is not an especially memorable 5.1 soundtrack other than for how lacking in detail it is. There is barely any action out of the surround channels, especially the rear channels, and the bass channel may as well have been forgotten about completely. Given the preponderance of weapons fire and fighting, I was certainly expecting much more than we got. The sound seems to have been recorded in a muffled room and has no space or bloom to it - it sounds really congested. The resultant soundscape is less than encompassing and this definitely comes across as something you are watching and listening rather than something you are a part of and experiencing.

Extras

    Well actually, I thought the way Michael described this was something different so I though I would plagiarise it: think of any number and then subtract it from itself. Tells you the answer to what to expect.

Menu

    Of no use at all and given how bad it looks, that is probably not a bad thing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 release misses out on:     Since you would have to be either a really die hard fan to want two versions of the film on the same disc, the Region 4 release is the version of choice owing to the inherent superiority of the PAL system (says he with tongue firmly in cheek).

Summary

    Well, if you really want to waste $25 (to buy) or $6 (to rent) on a rubbish film, with a poor video and audio transfer, bugger all extras and a crappy cardboard case, go right ahead. But really, wait just a little while longer and for the same expense you can get an entertaining film (arguably Steven Seagal's best), Erika Eleniak topless, what should be a better video and audio transfer if Region 1 is anything to go by, probably bugger all extras and an equally crappy cardboard case. And I actually quite enjoy Steven Seagal films! Not this turkey. Number four onto the list of potential worst releases in Region 4 for 2000.

    A shocker of a video transfer for a film of its age.

    A adequate audio transfer.

    A non-existent extras package.

    And what's wrong with the packaging on this release - apart from being a crappy snapper case? Surprisingly not too much, except for the use of what is presumably a Region 1 screen capture for the menu shot, as it is definitely different wording to that on the actual DVD. (Ed. The case and packaging issues were rectified with the re-release of this DVD in a Transparent Amaray case.)

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Friday, January 28, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Steve K
The DVD Bits - Sarah M

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Nico: Above the Law (1988) | Hard to Kill (1990) | Out for Justice (1991) | Under Siege (1992)

Under Siege (1992)

Under Siege (1992)

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Released 7-Feb-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 92:20 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Andrew Davis
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Tommy Lee Jones
Gary Busey
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Gary Chang


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Here is a movie which screams "rip-off", and actually boasts it on its back cover. Anyone for Die Hard? "Heck, that movie made a lot of money", thought the producers of Under Siege, "let's make more of the same, but this time instead of a building, let's make it a .... ummmm ... I know - boat! Yeah, that sounds good!" And you know what, it actually is good, very good. Sorry Ian old mate that you had to review Out For Justice and Hard To Kill, but Steven Seagal (or Seagull as I like to call him) is quite effective in this movie, and he plays the role with aplomb.

    For those who are not in the know, a NAVY ship loaded to the gills with nuclear-tipped Tomahawks and other nasties is cleverly hijacked and taken control of by terrorists. Gary Busey is the ship's Executive Officer who is in on the whole thing and does the work from the inside in order to allow the team of terrorists, headed by the order-barking (and barking-mad) Tommy Lee Jones, to gain entry to the ship. In the meantime, our hero Steven Seagal is the lowly cook who has been locked away for being insubordinate. As it turns out of course, our cook is in fact a steely-eyed ex-SEAL operative, highly skilled in the art of murder, weapons, explosives ... sound familiar? He then systematically defeats the entire terrorist team and regains control of the ship by the end of the film.

    The timing of this film is exceptional, with never a dull moment. Lots of clever, fast action with a fair degree of style. Tommy Lee Jones is superb, as is Gary Busey. This is movie can hold its own in this much copied genre and is certainly Steven Seagal's best work. I highly recommend this DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    After reading poor old Ian's reviews on his last batch of Steven Seagull's flops I was expecting the worst, and I looked sideways when the Warner logo first came on the screen. As I opened my eyes and turned my head I noticed that the video wasn't bad. Heck, this is a d*** solid transfer and I was very pleased and satisfied with the presentation.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is blessedly 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is nicely detailed, and consistently sharp throughout. It had quite a film-like appearance, being very steady and with a smooth finish to it. The singular aspect of the transfer which lets it down slightly is the shadow detail, and I had to surgically remove half a star from the rating, which is a shame because I really wanted to give it five out of five. You will definitely want to watch this in total darkness - which is how you should watch every movie anyway - because most of the movie is very, very dark. Detail in much of the darkness is lost, though just enough comes through for it not to be too much of a problem or distraction. There is no low-level noise, and there is no edge-enhancement to speak of.

    Colours were slightly recessed - after all this does take place on a battle ship, so there is not much to work with. Skin tones were quite good (Erika Eliniak's were perfect), and what colour there was was rendered very nicely and without noise or bleeding.

    I was surprised to find this movie placed on one layer, which is fairly unusual nowadays. However, with no extras whatsoever to impinge on the bit-budget, all is well. There are no significant MPEG artefacts, and indeed most of the movie is exemplary in this respect, with the compression failing in only a few scenes. There are no significant film artefacts, and absolutely no film-to-video artefacts. There is NO aliasing on this transfer at all.

Audio

    There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks on offer, being in English, French and Italian. The audio is the equal of the video and is of reference quality, with absolutely nothing to complain about, and indeed much to applaud.

    Dialogue was always clear and well recorded, and I noticed no lip sync problems.

    The score, composed by Gary Chang (who is a prolific TV scorer) is very interesting, and greatly adds to the effectiveness of the movie as a whole. Its near constant percussive rhythms provide suspense and pace for the movie, and I enjoyed it very much. It is well recorded, with a full sound and is very detailed. The front soundstage actually wraps around you, with sidewall imaging provided by the surrounds, and the depth and width of the imaging is at times extraordinary.

    Surround presence consists of mainly a constant support for the score, truly opening up the front soundstage and removing the speakers. It is quite normal for a Dolby Digital mix to be very speaker based, and now and then a mix comes along whereby the sound just appears from certain places in the room, not just directly from the speakers. This is one such transfer, and much is credited to the skilful use of the surrounds. Discrete surround effects occur frequently, and the end result of all this is an extremely immersive soundfield which draws you into the action.

    The subwoofer was used frequently to aid with all the explosions and gun shots, and also filled out the score somewhat.

Extras

Menu

    Ahem. (Cough). Ummmm .....

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     Well, we miss out on a little bit, but not enough to get upset over. Stick with the local version for the superior PAL video, after all - the movie is what it's all about.

Summary

    An excellent action film with all of the right elements in place - a strong plot, plenty of hardware and of course the girl. Die Hard on a boat it is indeed, and all the better for it.

    The video is excellent, being slightly failed only by the poor shadow detail.

    The audio is also excellent, and is of reference quality being truly immersive and high fidelity.

    I wonder why we didn't get the handful of extras which appear on the R1 disc? Seems odd.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Cordingley (bio)
Wednesday, February 23, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A-350A, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 16:9 RPTV. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player.
AmplificationSony STR DE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
SpeakersCentre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive

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