Under Siege (1992)
By: Devon B. on June 30, 2013 | Comments
Warner Bros | Region Free | 1.85:1, 1080p | English DD 5.1 DD | 103 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Andrew Davis
Starring: Stevie Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Colm Meaney, Erika Eleniak
Screenplay: J.F. Lawton
Country: USA
External Links
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When Steven Seagal is Under Siege was released it used advertising that quoted a reviewer who said it was "…Die Hard on a boat." I had a friend who found that really amusing because he figured the reviewer had been bashing the film as a Die Hard rip off, and some mixed up marketing person had put this dismissive quote in Steven Seagal is Under Siege's promotion. My friend would say, "I bet the full quote is, 'This is just Die Hard on a boat,' and because they couldn't find any positive reviews they chopped off the start of the sentence." I don't know if that's what happened or not, but I have had a few of my reviews' sentences carefully edited to be used in promotion, and one time had someone make up a whole new quote with my name attributed to it, so my friend may have been on to something.

Steven Seagal was also onto something for Steven Seagal is Under Siege, he went on to a ship. Stevie is a cook who plays by his own rules despite being in the Navy, and he won't take any shit off of Gary Busey, who's an uptight dickhead. He also plays a jerk in the movie. Stevie's "attitude" gets him locked away for the Captain's birthday, which is a sad for him because there's a special cake ordered. It turns out the cake is just a distraction, though one that goes strangely unused, to help enable a hostile takeover of the ship. Stevie escapes from his captivity, finds the cake, and then takes its contents with him as he tries to stop the terrorists. So in essence, yes it's Die Hard, but it's not on a boat. It's on a ship. Totally different things, which is maybe why the Blu-ray uses a much more accurate quote on the slick: "Die Hard on a battleship." A few other plot points have been changed to make Steven Seagal is Under Siege less like Die Hard, and these changes actually bear similarities to changes to the Die Hard formula that were made for Executive Decision. So Executive Decision was kinda like Stevie ripping off his own Die Hard rip off.

Reuniting Stevie with the director that first broke him, Andrew Davis, Steven Seagal is Under Siege was a massive turning point for Stevie, and I'm not entirely sure it was a good one. For the general public it was, as it was his first, and only, genuine blockbuster, but instead of aikidoing any motherfucker that got in his way Stevie was now using explosions to get the job done, and when he shoots people it's not to take their leg off at the knee. This was the point where Stevie got less hands on in his combat, so it's really the point where he got lazy, and the starting point of him becoming an absolute joke. I love some of his crazier, more ridiculous movies, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have welcomed some more films of the calibre of his precursor to Steven Seagal is Under Siege, his pièce de résistance, Steven Segal is Out for Justice. Steven Seagal is Under Siege is nowhere near as good as that one, and in fact doesn't entirely seem like a Stevie movie at all, as any generic action star could've been put in the roll with very little changes made. Stevie is also hampered by an annoying sidekick whose sense of fashion is the thing that most dates the film, but more importantly her presence gives him even less opportunity to snap wrists. She's also the founder of the tradition of Stevie suddenly and out of nowhere being romantically entangled with a random female member of the cast, a legacy that continues on to this day.

Steven Seagal is Under Siege might've been a bit generic, but it is saved from this fate by its villains. Stevie gets not one, not two, but three worthy adversaries here. Busey is his usual insane self, which is always interesting if not likeable, and Busey is joined by Tommy Lee Jones and Colm Meaney of Die Hard 2 fame. Any one of the trio would've made for a great villain, so having the three combine in a display of badness not seen since Batman: The Movie makes Steven Seagal is Under Siege a lot better than it would be without them. This may also be why mainstream fans embraced this movie more than some of Stevie's others, because it's a well put together Hollywood actioner with a good cast. And Stevie. The film also has some intentional humour that is very, very funny, which wouldn't have gone astray with mainstream audiences, either.

General action fans will no doubt enjoy Steven Seagal is Under Siege, but even though there's still some aikido, those that want to see a ponytailed Stevie make short work of a variety of thugs might be disappointed, especially since Stevie would never be quite the same again. Luckily I fall into both categories, so I can still enjoy it even if it's not the Stevie movie it could've been, but the enjoyment is definitely bittersweet given the rapid downhill slope Stevie started to descend within a few years of Steven Seagal is Under Siege.
The Disc
The colours look a bit drab on this release, but otherwise this is a pretty good transfer. The print is sharp and mostly clean, though grain can become heavy in darker sequences. There's also a bit of crush, some motion judder and a touch of edge enhancement, but for a budget release of a catalogue title there's not much to cry about on the visual presentation front. However, there is plenty to cry about on the audio side of things. There're lossy 5.1 remixes for English and French (Canadian) speakers, and Spanish speakers get the original Spanish mix in 2.0, but at a lower bitrate than the 5.1 tracks. The French and English tracks seemed similar when I flipped between them, but the Spanish seemed to have a few louder sound FX than the other two, so this may be another case where a Stevie movie's sound remix has made the film more subtle. Booooo! The Blu-ray includes the film's trailer, but nothing else.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Steven Seagal is Under Siege is not an expensive purchase, and the quality of the disc reflects that. I don't know if it will ever get a spruced up edition with better audio, and it's not like it's a purchase that'll break the bank, so I didn't want to take the risk of waiting years and years for something better that might never eventuate. The question of whether to buy the Blu-ray might be a little tricky, but the film itself is a must own for anyone that loves themselves a Die Hard rip off where stuff gets blowed up real good.
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