On Deadly Ground (1994)

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Released 10-Jan-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 97:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steven Seagal
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Michael Caine
Joan Chen
John C. McGinley
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Basil Poledouris


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
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    They always come in twos do Steven Seagal films! Well, it seems like that anyway. And once again we are blessed with the patented SS story, but this time set in the wilds of Alaska. And this is presumably Steven Seagal's attempt at being politically correct and taking a pro-environmental stance in the film. Now before that gets all you environmentalists rushing to pen vitriolic emails, I am by no means adopting a anti-environment stance here. After all, I am a fully paid up member of both Greenpeace and The Wilderness Society. All I am saying is that this sort of film is not the best platform for making a pro-environment statement, especially after half the film has involved blowing up various installations that are liable to cause environmental damage and leaving junk lying around.

    Well if you have read my recent review for Out For Justice, and you want the plot of this effort, "Gino Felino" becomes "Forrest Taft" (Steven Seagal), swap "Bobby Lupo" with "environmentally unsafe practices" and change the bad guy from "drug crazed Richie Madano" to "money crazed Michael Jennings" (Michael Caine), and you are pretty much there. Forrest Taft is a oil well fire fighter employed by Aegis Oil, headed by Michael Jennings. After fighting a nasty little fire at a rig, which was caused by shoddy restrictors, that ends up with the death of rig foreman Hugh Palmer (Richard Hamilton) at the hands of Jennings' henchmen, Taft decides to do a little investigating. Getting too close for comfort, Jennings arranges a little chemical fire as a pretence for murdering Taft, only to fail. Taft comes back to destroy Aegis Oil and kill Michael Jennings - all with the help of a sole native woman by the name of Masu (Joan Chen) and after eliminating the combined forces of the henchmen and a bunch of mercenaries, plus the FBI. Just your typical Steven Seagal film really.

    The surprising thing about this film though is that there is actually some acting on display - although I hasten to add not from Steven Seagal himself. Although quite what possessed Michael Caine to come on board for this effort I do not know, but at least he does make a fair fist of the money grabbing businessman with no morals. Joan Chen chips in as a reasonable native American, but thereafter the "quality" (in the loosest application of the term) falls away dramatically - apart from a small role from Billy Bob Thornton, who really should have been given a lot more to do here. This incarnation also sees the debut of Steven Seagal as a director - I suppose that when you produce, direct and star in a film, it not only saves a few bucks in costs but there is also no chance of being chewed out for your lack of performance. And in his debut directorial effort, SS picked up the 1995 Razzie for Worst Director - he also copped a nomination for Worst Actor, amongst the five nominations it got but missed out on. About the best thing on offer here is the setting in Alaska, as it gave the opportunity to indulge in some nice scenery as a backdrop to the so-so film.

    Not as bad as Out For Justice (although that is not saying much), this is a mediocre effort at best, but it does have some redeeming features - notably the fact that it is reasonably in focus throughout and therefore you can actually see what is going on.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    Well, anything would be an improvement on Out For Justice and this is.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 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 a really sharp transfer, and at times is a reasonably soft transfer although with adequate enough definition. The dream sequence, for want of a better term, is really far too softly focused and it is quite difficult to watch the diffuse image. Overall, this simply lacks the sparkle of a sharp, clear, well defined transfer. The picture is quite grainy at times, which is a reflection of the lack of clarity in the transfer. Shadow detail when it needed to be was quite good. There appear to be no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    This again presents a slightly muted palette of colours and is not anything approaching a vibrant transfer. There is no hint of oversaturation in the transfer at all, and the only time that the transfer really gets some life is during the explosions and whenever the forest turns a little brighter green. However, in some respects the palette conveys the rugged nature of the region fairly well.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, apart some minor hints of aliasing that were hardly a distraction. There were a few noticeable film artefacts floating around but nothing too distracting.

Audio

    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 Basil Poledouris at least made some sort of effort to include native music rhythms in the score, which therefore lifts this out of the totally banal category, even though it is still not an especially memorable effort.

    This is a decent enough 5.1 soundtrack, a little lacking in detail, but with the surrounds and bass channels getting a decent workout during the explosions. However, what action there was out of the rear channel was reasonably limited and this really could have been a lot better. There is a fair deal of space to the sound and the resultant soundscape is quite believable and it is quite encompassing. Not the best that you will ever hear, frankly a little underdone for a 5.1 effort, but nonetheless an acceptable effort.

Extras

    We are running out of ways of saying nothing at all - if you have any suggestions for witty ways of saying nothing, we would welcome them.

Menu

    Yes it has one but I did not take any notice of it.

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 again have to be 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.

Summary

    Well, it is better than Out For Justice.

    An adequate video transfer.

    A decent enough audio transfer.

    A non-existent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, January 29, 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

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