I do like it when people try new things, but sometimes theres only so far the square peg can go in the wrong hole. By nautre, action movies are loud, destructive and low on brain power and shoehorning in an environmental message into the proceedings isn't impossible but you better have a good story to tell with the Aesop or it will just look silly in the end. That exactly what happens in Steven Seagals pet/vanity project, On Deadly Ground.
Seagal, while we can make fun of him for many things does seem to care about the environment and has made a couple of movies about a clean Earth. This was his first and hot off the heels of his mega hit Under Siege, and it was his shot at being a real deal action star like Stallone and Arnie. To say those dreams were squashed majorly is an understatement when this bombastic and ham handed mess came out. Each one of Seagal's environmental follow ups had lesser budgets, lesser thrills and at least one of them was direct to video. An even bigger kick to the ego was not only was Seagal the star, he produced and directed this too.
The movie takes place in Alaska where Seagal is an oil company trouble shooter who has been given suspictions that his company is cutting corners in putting together it's newest project, Aegis 1, a super refinery that unless a deadline is met, the oil it will be drilling will become the ownership of the local Eskimos again. Seagals boss, who is played by Michael Caine isn't too thrilled with Seagal's news and arranges to have him killed. Seagal is nursed back to health by the Eskimos and after Caines' mercenaries headed up by John C McGinley and R Lee Ermey fail to find him the decision is made by Seagal to destroy Aegis 1 and stop Caine from further environmental damage.
Okay, sounds harmless right? We have a nice cast in Michael Caine, R Lee Ermey, John C McGinley along with the lovely Joan Chen (playing an Eskimo) and even character actor Mike Starr as a bar fly who Seagal merciously beats up in a rather eye rolling scene where the whole bar lingers on Seagal's every word. There's PLENTY of things getting blown up for nice big explosions, many of which Michael Bay would like and hey, a green message. It's all in the execution is where this goes south.
Seagal AGAIN is playing an invincible hero. I bet you could count on ONE hand the number of times someone even lays a HAND on Seagal in a movie. THREE that I know of are in Under Siege 1 AND 2. The supporting cast is short changed or made to look like fools. Michael Caine is CLEARLY a buffoon who is made to go out of his way to drop the movie's anvil of "oil companies BAD!!!!" R Lee Ermey for all his real life combat experience provides the Seagal fillibuster (a requisite for all Seagal movies is to ramble about how badass Seagal is) and to get killed in a LUDICROUS way. Joan Chen isn't bad but claiming media connections can halt the Aegis 1 construction with Seagal's evidance but he refutes it and spews about how he has no choice but to turn to violence and destroy the refinery-which when you think about it for all the smoke, flames, spilt oil and other chemicals in the environment is a pretty stupid thing to do considering Seagal is out to PROTECT the environment. Another isn't so much the violence but a TORTURE scene. An old man is bound and has his fingers broken and later his leg drilled into and it's a chore to watch. The rest of the movie is typical Seagal bone snapping martial arts and viscera and theres nothing else here you haven't seen in one of his other, better movies.
On Deadly Ground is also notorious for ending with a HUGE lecture by Seagal about how oil companies are killing the Earth and holding back technology that can replace oil, so on and so forth. Look I said Seagal's heart is in the right place but it's hard to take seriously after he's caused grand scale property destruction, murder and pollution at his own accord, not to mention that the speech even has conspiracy theory nonsense packaged into it.
On Deadly Ground was the 15th minute of Seagals fame, and while he finished out the Ninties with more action movies and into the 2000's with a couple more, his career never recovered from this and none of them were as big as On Deadly Ground or the Under Siege movies. On Deadly Ground isn't a COMPLETE loss with it's high action and nice cast but the rest of it is numbing, reaching for logic and isn't anything you couldn't find in another action movie. Of course, all those other action movies don't have an ENVIRONMENTAL MESSAGE do they? No, but they're good.
Steven Seagal's infamous movie about saving the planet by blowing up a small part of it is bombastic and by the numbers. Throw in a torture scene and make your costars R Lee Ermey and Michael Caine look like dunces and there you go.
On Deadly Ground is a film that Steven Seagal took the mimicking of Billy Jack too far. He stars as a man who's view on life change when he hangs out with some Eskimos. Seagal aims all of his frustrations on an oil rig that's being built in the Eskimos' community. So in short, Seagal destroys the environment in order to save it. His careless actions cause the rig to go up like a roman candle. Oil, fire and death are everywhere. Although Seagal kills the bad guys and saves the day, he turns the Arctic … more
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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