Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)

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Released 7-Feb-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 95:24 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Geoff Murphy
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Eric Bogosian
Katherine Heigl
Morris Chestnut
Everett McGill
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 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 Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    So, the original Under Siege must have done well at the box office (and for good reason), so a few years later along comes Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Whilst the only thing dark about this movie is some aspects of the transfer, we definitely have another siege situation, only this time on a train. I think this style of extreme no-escape action movie has pretty much run its course, because after skyscrapers, boats, planes, buses and naval ships there just aren't any places left! Anyway, this is pretty much the same movie as the first, without the great actors which helped the original fill any plot holes it may have had.

    Instead of a naval war ship, Casey Ryback (Steven Seagull) is the cook who must rescue the hostages of a train, in this case the rather large Grand Continental and save the world from insane terrorists. It would not be giving away too many secrets to say that Ryback does manage to do all that is required of him and more, whilst at all times having a lacquered-on steely gaze which is needed to stay focused whilst you are doing anything from hanging from one arm above a gaping cavernous cliff-drop, to defeating a man with a meat-cleaver for a weapon with just your bare hands (with the truly brilliant line "nobody beats me in the kitchen."). His talents truly are inspiring, and it must take him a good three hours each day in make-up before shooting begins to fix his piercing look into place.

    As well as the casting budget, the effects budget is somewhat less than that which the original was granted, because many effects look truly poor. The Grazer 1 satellite is something straight out Dr Evil's wish list, and is as ludicrous a device as any used in movies, and the need to control it from a moving target so as not to be detected is questionable. But, the movie is paced well and does the job nicely right until the last ten minutes when everything is hurriedly and poorly wrapped up. It's as if the writer got bored and just wrote something down quickly to end the movie.

    The saving grace for this movie is the use of the good old Apple Newton PDA, which is sadly no longer produced. This was a ripper of a gadget, and it is great to see it used seriously rather than ridiculed for its sometimes less-than-perfect handwriting recognition (think Simpsons). Yep, the movie is a bit of a stinker all things considered, but I like it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is in most parts identical to that of the original Under Siege, though it is not quite as good, for reasons I will describe below.

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

    Just like Under Siege, this image is very film-like in appearance, having that nice balance between smoothness and detail. Unfortunately, it also suffers from poor shadow detail at times, and again I would recommend against viewing this film with any ambient light in the room - we are in dark territory indeed (again with the puns!) Thankfully, there is no edge-enhancement, which is one of the best ways to preserve the film-like image for a transfer to DVD, nor was there any low-level noise.

    Again, as with the original, colours were very natural and well rendered, with no noise, bleeding or registration problems.

    The main failing of this transfer is the unfortunate propensity of MPEG macro-blocking which occurs during some scenes, though it is of the kind which least offends me. The whole movie is contained on one layer, though I would still expect this not to be a problem given there are no extras and the movie is not that long, and on the whole the image is rock-solid and looks very nice - until the camera moves very quickly, and things tend to get muddled and definition suffers. If there were going to be any MPEG problems, these are the best kind to have, because the fast action tends to obscure this failing anyway, and for the most part the compression is fine and isn't a problem. However, I must downgrade the transfer rating because of this, and it really should not occur at all nowadays. I would have liked this movie to have been RSDL formatted and more room given over to the video, but alas and alack, it isn't.

Audio

    There are three Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks on offer, being in English, French and Italian. The soundtrack is very reminiscent of the original, and is quite good.

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

    The score is basically a copy of that written for Under Siege, being more percussive than melodic. It does fit the bill nicely though, and gives the on-screen action some extra effectiveness.

    This is an aggressively mixed soundtrack, and the surrounds are used often and to good effect. Essentially, the whole room was filled with sound which made for a very cinematic feel.

    The subwoofer helped with the bottom end, and also the percussive score. The space shuttle launch is superb, and it felt as if my living room was taking off with it...

Extras

Menu

    To quote Michael, the extras for this movie are "still being held under siege." I couldn't put it better myself.

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:     Stay with good old R4 for this one, and you will be rewarded with superior PAL resolution and smoothness.

Summary

    Whilst this movie does not really stand on its own feet, it does work well as a sequel, and for some reason (which to be perfectly honest evades me) I enjoyed it - and I have seen it a few times before.

    The video would be excellent if it were not let down by poor shadow detail and MPEG compression nasties. Still, it is quite good.

    The audio is functional and well suited to the action, with some good surround usage.

    The extras are apparently being held hostage somewhere, awaiting rescue by Warners. Don't hold your breath.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Cordingley (bio)
Sunday, March 05, 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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