Overall | On Deadly Ground (1994) | Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) | The Glimmer Man (1996) | Fire Down Below (1997)

Steven Seagal Collection 1994-1997 (1994)

Steven Seagal Collection 1994-1997 (1994)

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Released 6-Nov-2002

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Overall Package

    Time to pull out the patented Warner Home Video Box Set review kitTM (not that that's necessarily a bad thing). The Steven Seagal Collection 1994 - 1997 is, as its title so obviously points out, a collection of four Steven Seagal movies which were released between 1994 and 1997; On Deadly Ground, Under Siege 2, The Glimmer Man, and Fire Down Below. Steven Seagal is, no doubt, familiar to those of you reading this review, so there is no need for me to expound on his ability to kick serious martial arts butt without a hair going out of place and his ability to recover from life-threatening injuries in the blink of an eye - that is all part of the charm of his movies. Instead, I'll just concentrate on the packaging details of this box set.

    All of the DVDs themselves are identical to those previously released individually, so there are absolutely no extras in this box set other than the very basic booklet which merely replicates the chapter listings and back covers of the previous individual DVD releases. The discs are presented in a gatefold-type package, covered by a slipcase - not the most robust of arrangements, but it'll do nicely, and is a nice compact way of storing these four movies.

    Priced at $79.95, this collection represents a substantial saving over buying these four movies individually ($24.95 x 4 = $99.80), so is a worthwhile purchase if you do not already have these movies in your collection.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Other Reviews
DVD Net - Nathan C

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Overall | On Deadly Ground (1994) | Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) | The Glimmer Man (1996) | Fire Down Below (1997)

On Deadly Ground (1994)

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.

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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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The DVD Bits - John Z
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Overall | On Deadly Ground (1994) | Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) | The Glimmer Man (1996) | Fire Down Below (1997)

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)

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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 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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Overall | On Deadly Ground (1994) | Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) | The Glimmer Man (1996) | Fire Down Below (1997)

The Glimmer Man (1996)

The Glimmer Man (1996)

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Released 12-Jul-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 87:38
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Gray
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Keenen Ivory Wayans
Bob Gunton
Brian Cox
Michelle Johnson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Trevor Rabin


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

    I am not much of a Steven Seagal fan, so it was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch this movie. There are a lot of typical Seagal moments in this film, but there are a lot of redeeming moments in this film as well. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that this movie is the most entertaining Seagal movie that I have seen to date.

    Steven Seagal is a police officer, Jack Cole, who is assigned to a serial killer investigation along with Jim Campbell (Keenen Ivory Wayans). The plot thickens, however, when it seems as if there is a professional killer out there using the same modus operandi as the serial killer. Jack Cole is very much a left-of-centre police officer. Incense, Chinese herbs and Tibetan prayer beads figure prominently in his life. Violence seems to him to not be the best solution to life's problems, but he has to resort to violence, and plenty of it, when he is put squarely into the frame for the serial killings.

    This movie is a more-or-less by the numbers buddy cop thriller, but it has a number of things going for it. Firstly, Steven Seagal's dialogue is kept to a minimum. Secondly, the opening sequence is very unusual, and very much makes you sit up and take notice. Thirdly, the violence is kept to a maximum, even though the repeated martial arts battles tended to get a little tedious. Fortunately, the exquisitely violent gun battles compensated for this amply. Finally, the volume of the special effects and the intensity of the on-screen images are kept to a maximum. The surround sound design in particular for this movie is exceptional.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is quite sharp and clear, only falling slightly short of the very best transfers in quality. It is quite dark for the first half of the movie, but then seems to gradually lighten up a bit. Shadow detail was excellent, and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were highly saturated throughout, especially early on in the movie, almost to the verge of oversaturation. As with the brightness and contrast of the picture, this seemed to improve towards the latter half of the movie.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of very minor aliasing, but nothing significant. Film artefacts were present more often than I would have expected, particularly early on in the film when a number of quite large and noticeable artefacts flashed past.

Audio

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

    Dialogue had a processed quality about it, and was difficult to understand at times. This was a problem early in the movie, and then once again late in the movie.

    Audio sync was never definitely out, but a few lines of dialogue looked badly ADR dubbed.

    The soundtrack was scored by Trevor Rabin and it varies markedly from typical action movie set pieces to some quite unusual and suitable scoring, most notably during the excellent opening titles.

    The surround channels were very aggressively used for the special effects, with lots of action in the rears for explosions, gun shots and the like. The overall level of the surrounds was very pleasing, and sounded very full when they were being used. The net result of this is a very enveloping sound mix that really draws you into the action sequences. I would have to describe these action sequences as some of the best sound design I have heard to date.

    The .1 channel was very heavily used during the special effects sequences. Most importantly, though, it never drew attention to itself since it was nicely integrated into the overall sound mix.

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc, not even the Production Notes listed on the packaging.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced and is in the old Warner Brothers style of more-or-less text only. Only some scenes can be directly selected from the scene selection menu.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this disc has the following additional features on it;     Overall, there is nothing compelling to these extras, so I would declare both versions as essentially equal.

Summary

    The Glimmer Man is certainly the best Steven Seagal movie I have seen to date, and certainly by far the most entertaining.

    The video quality is quite good, though it does tend to look a little oversaturated at times.

    The audio quality is excellent except for some hard to hear dialogue. This is more than made up for by the very aggressive sound design during the action sequences, however.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Wednesday, August 25, 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.
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
DVD Net - Nathan C

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Overall | On Deadly Ground (1994) | Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) | The Glimmer Man (1996) | Fire Down Below (1997)

Fire Down Below (1997)

Fire Down Below (1997)

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Released 29-May-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 100:21
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Felix Enriquez Alcala
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Steven Seagal
Marg Helgenberger
Harry Dean Stanton
Stephen Lang
Kris Kristofferson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Nick Glennie-Smith


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

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

Plot Synopsis

    And so we get to the umpteenth instalment of the Steven Seagal MovieTM and by now the story is so familiar that even the cover blurb reminds me of an earlier film. In fact, the cover blurb so reminded me of On Deadly Ground that I initially thought that I had seen this film before. It has to be admitted, however, that this is probably one of his better efforts and was actually reasonably enjoyable. So, check the brain at the door, get the popcorn ready and spend another 100 minutes with a bit of no-brain action. And for the record, this time Steven Seagal actually does get a scratch on him!

    This incarnation starts with EPA agent Jack Taggart (Steven Seagal) finding another one of his buddies having been killed by the bad guys. Here's a tip - never be friends with Steven Seagal's character. The bad guys this time are comprised of a wealthy businessman, who is dumping toxic wastes into disused and abandoned coal mines in Kentucky, and his assorted and rather clichéd henchmen. Rolling into the small town of Jackson, Kentucky in the guise of a handyman from the local mission, Taggart sets out to find evidence of the dumpings and to enlist the help of the reticent locals - most of whom are either in the employ of the bad guys, are the bad guys or are being intimidated by the bad guys. The romantic interest this time is Sarah Kellogg (Marg Helgenberger), a somewhat alienated woman in the community owing to her infamous past. As the bad guys make efforts to force Taggart from town, he naturally enough beats them to a pulp and implores the townsfolk to expose the dangers lurking in their backyard. Need any more plot here? You surely know where this one is heading.

    Well, it is not an original and in some respects that is why these Steven Seagal MoviesTM continue to get made - well, that and the fact that he is the producer. There is obviously something quite comforting in these endless incarnations of the same story. Once again Steven Seagal is unlikely to be confused with an actor, although to be fair the practice must be getting to him as at times he is more convincing here than usual. Marg Helgenberger is an actress that for some reason I have always liked and she produces her usual almost competent effort - nothing special, mind you, just acceptable. Apart from Harry Dean Stanton, the rest are your usual collection of C-grade actors providing their usual standard of performance - in other words adequate at best. The poor sod who has to suffer this one on his directorial resume is Felix Enriquez Alcala, but once again this would bear more of the handiwork of Steven Seagal than him.

    So really what we have on offer here is another over-clichéd, poorly-written screenplay, full of over-clichéd characters, brought to life in the loosest possible sense of the word by a bunch of reasonably inept actors who almost fail miserably in a film that pretty much lacks any sort of direction. So really, just another patented Steven Seagal MovieTM. But, I must be succumbing as this one is actually quite a decent watch for some reason.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

    The immediate reaction on this one was that it is demonstrably better than your average Steven Seagal MovieTM. Apart from a few lapses, this is actually a reasonably sharp and well-detailed effort. Generally quite clear, there are just a few odd problems with grain to mar the effect. Whilst not in the league of other similarly-aged films, by the standards of Steven Seagal MoviesTM this is something of a stunning effort! Shadow detail was in general very good, and there appeared to be no problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    The transfer presents a quite decent palette of colours and at times is quite vibrant - somewhat atypical of a Steven Seagal MovieTM. There is no hint of oversaturation in the transfer at all, and the overall effect is very good by the standards of his previous films, at least those that I have seen.

    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, with just a hint of some very minor aliasing. There were a few barely noticeable film artefacts floating around but nothing too distracting.

    The packaging fails to mention the Romanian and Bulgarian subtitle options.

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 clear and easy to understand.

    There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.

    The score by Nick Glennie-Smith is hardly his best work, but then again his best work would be far too good for this film. Nothing exceptional is probably the best way of describing this.

    This is a better than adequate enough 5.1 soundtrack, lacking just a little in detail, with the surrounds and bass channels getting a decent workout, especially during the main action sequences - most notably the "game" with the semi. When the bass channel was called into action it did so with just a little too much in the way of resonance but nothing that would really be considered objectionable. The rear channel action could perhaps have been a little better but again by the usual standards of a Steven Seagal MovieTM, this was pretty good. Not the best that I have ever heard, but not the worst either and really just a good, but mainly unspectacular, Dolby Digital 5.1 effort.

Extras

    Yeah, right.

Menu

    Let me tell you that this is a really poor-looking effort, so don't bother checking it out, even for curiosity's sake. The title is a tad too oversaturated and the background is a tad too dark, so the overall effect is poor.

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:     Note that some resources suggest that the Region 1 release is in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but this is contrary to the information at Widescreen Review, which seems to be a definitive source of accurate information on these matters: they measure the picture at 1.78:1 and state the theatrical aspect ratio to be 1.85:1. Unless you are a die-hard fan needing a Pan and Scan version of the film, there would seem to be little reason to prefer the Region 1 version.

Summary

    Fire Down Below is probably one of the better Steven Seagal MoviesTM and not too bad a view if you need to fill in 100 minutes.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A non-existent extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, July 09, 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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