Monday, January 2, 2012

On Deadly Ground (1994)

Steven Seagal asks the tough questions in this oil-tycoon, Alaskan Eskimo thriller. Yes, questions like "what does it take to change the essence of a man?," and "how much money is enough?" - all in his slightly urban youth, slightly Native, always slow and smooth, Seagal accent. 'How did Seagal's spiritual tendencies shine through as Forrest, the extra top-secret problem solver with a nasty attitude and vision quest memories of him wrestling a bear to death?,' you ask = Oh it's easy when Seagal gets to direct the piece. That's right, this is the action diva's directorial debut, rife with both morals and explosions, a perfect combination in any decade. 'But how did he get that gig?,' you press on...Well, in 1994, in the height of Seagal mania, Warner Bros. just couldn't say 'no' to an 'Under Siege 2,' even if it meant handing over the helm to the madman himself. Let's see....crunch some numbers here and...well, with the first Under Siege bringing in over $120 million in box office profits, I can see why they took the gamble. On Deadly Ground got a $50 million budget and lost $12 in the box office. But that $12 was gained back during the $45 million profit of Under Siege 2, leaving them with a tidy $33 million and rentals. Not bad, not great, and probably why Seagal couldn't grab another director's cap during his long and prodigious career. Oh well: he left us with this beauty, and we can always be grateful for that = Medicine man dances, mercenaries, ruthless oil tycoons, breathtaking shots of Alaska, dog sledding and dream sequences, Eskimos, stock footage lectures, titties (? Oh yes, even in Alaska!), bar fights, and explosions, explosions, explosions. Oh yeah, and that dreadful pipe cutter. Oef. It's true, the Eskimos probably aren't really Eskimos. And vision quests probably don't always involve hot, naked chicks. And even Steven Seagal probably can't survive being blown 500 feet from an oil rig explosion. But here, and now, please...just let me believe...I mean, seriously: the guy's a bonafide, real-life hero! Busting bad guys with the law on his side? = Check. Saving cute endangered wildlife? = Check. Getting blessed by Eastern holymen? = Check. He's even got a sexual harassment suit or two on his list! This is as real as it gets my friends!

Besides, even R. Lee Ermey is a little bit scared.

Throw in a dainty and well-manicured Sir Michael Caine, a completely useless Joan Chen, and a super-creepy John McGinley, and you've got yourself a 90's action movie. Even Billy Bob is in this flick, although I must admit that, even knowing that I forgot to notice him. Oh well (I just hope his psychic mother doesn't curse me!)...

And apparently Warner still has a lesson to be learned since they cut poor Seagal's 11 minute rant against gas companies down to a measly 5 minutes.

All in all, I must say this hit the spot like a hot salmon chowder on a cold Alaskan day. So thanks to Señor Salazar for the vehement recommendation.

I deem it: "The pinnacle of Seagal = the Rainbow Warrior is so close to the sun that you can't even feel a chill in the winter tundra of our '3rd world state'!/Seagal is so kick-ass, they couldn't even make up a story to justify his awesomeness!/Steven Seagal: standing up for the underdogs of the world, whether they be victims of racism or just victims of pony-tail hatred!/Alaska, here I come!"

Ps. You know that Seagal is in law enforcement reality TV now, right? Also, could anyone besides himself have written this over-the-top imdb bio?
"Steven Seagal is a striking and somewhat boyishly handsome looking (often with ponytail) and usually impeccably dressed action star who burst onto the martial arts film scene in 1988 in the fast-paced Warner Bros. film Above the Law (1988). The enigmatic Seagal commenced his martial arts training at the age of seven under the tutelage of well-known karate instructor and author Fumio Demura, and in the 1960s commenced his aikido training in Orange County, CA, under the instruction of Harry Ishisaka.....Unbeknownst to many, in 1997 Seagal publicly announced that one of his Buddhist teachers, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, had accorded Seagal as a tulku, the reincarnation of a Buddhist Lama. This initial announcement was met with some disbelief until Penor Rinpoche himself gave a confirmation statement on Seagal's new title. Seagal has repeatedly discussed his involvement in Buddhism and how he devotes many hours studying and meditating this ancient Eastern religion."

Pps. I couldn't find any good pictures of that naked vision quest scene. In fact, I couldn't even find any pictures of Steven Seagal naked - the only thing that came up was a disturbing photo of a naked mole rat (...I guess it could have been Seagal...). But hopefully these blurry Native pics (spot the fake Eskimo!) will serve to titillate at least slightly.