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It's not a job. It's an adventure! Steven Seagal comes aboard and comes on strong, combining humor and heroics in a fireball of a movie. The excitement starts when the USS Missouri welcomes aboard musicians and caterers set to provide entertainment during the famed battleship's last voyage. The visitors throw a party, all right. A war party. Led by a rogue CIA operative (JFK's Tommy Lee Jones) and a turncoat officer (Lethal Weapon's Gary Busey), they're really killer-elite commandos out to hijack the ship's nuclear arsenal. They overpower the crew. Except for one man. "I'm just a cook," that man says. But he's a cook with a recipe for action. He's ex-Navy SEAL and highly decorated combat operative Casey Ryback (Seagal). Relying on his slam-bang martial-arts skills and equipped with enough hardware to single-handedly wage World War III, Ryback turns the Missouri's deck and below deck areas into guerilla combat zones. All hands ready, action fans!
For more about Under Siege and the Under Siege Blu-ray release, see Under Siege Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 5, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Erika Eleniak, Patrick O'Neal, Colm Meaney
Director: Andrew Davis
» See full cast & crew
Under Siege Blu-ray Review
Seagal's finest hour is unfortunately not also Blu-ray's finest.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 5, 2008
I also cook.
Under Siege is billed on the back of its box as "Die Hard on a boat." There is certainly a similarity between the films, and it's not a wholly unfounded comparison, but this film never approaches the level of excellence that the first Die Hard film enjoys. The charm and charisma of Die Hard's hero and villain are hard to top, and Steven Segal and Tommy Lee Jones pale in comparison to Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman in delivering believable and memorable performances. While Die Hard is a bona fide action movie classic, Under Siege is simply nothing more than solid escapist entertainment. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a "rip-off," but it is a film that almost certainly exists as-is because of the influence of Die Hard on modern cinema action films.
Built to avenge Pearl Harbor, the U.S.S. Missouri is on her final voyage some fifty years later, about to be de-commissioned and scrapped. The ship's final voyage is upset when a band of terrorists led by William Stranix (Tommy Lee Jones, Space Cowboys) and the Missouri's own executive officer Commander Krill (Gary Busey, Predator 2) take over the ship, kill the captain, and imprison the crew. Only the ship's cook, Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal, Executive Decision) stands in their way. Ryback is not any ordinary cook. He's a former Navy SEAL, and a highly trained and decorated one at that. With the help of a dancer named Jordan (Erika Eleniak, The Beverly Hillbillies) who was flown in for the captain's surprise birthday party, Ryback will fight to prevent the terrorists from offloading the ship's nuclear weapons arsenal onto a stolen North Korean submarine.
Under Siege is a fine concept for a film. Though not in the least plausible, it's certainly scripted well enough to make it believable enough to move the story along. The character of Casey Ryback is one of the better ones in action movie history. The backstory developed for the character is credible and believable, and the angle of former special forces turned cook is very intriguing. Seagal, in his heyday, was a fine and exciting actor and Under Siege marks the pinnacle of the martial artist's career. He's an Arnold Schwarzenegger light who carries himself well, generally comes up with decent one liners, and proves physically imposing despite his more diminutive stature. It's a shame he's fallen into the direct to video arena because what he once was in films like this one, Hard to Kill and Above the Law represented the actor's, and perhaps action movies, glory days.
Under Siege Blu-ray, Video Quality
Taken as a whole, I was fairly pleased with Warner's 1.85:1, 1080p presentation of Under Siege. Although the print was not in the most pristine of conditions, exhibiting some minor blemishes, it nevertheless sufficed for a mostly fine presentation. There is a heavy amount of grain in some scenes, mostly in darker, indoor shots. The image looks highly detailed form beginning to end with a nice depth and clarity to it that makes it a decent upgrade over the 10+ year old DVD version I have. Black levels are uninspired and a little off in a few scenes. While clarity and detail are good, colors are drab, muted, and lifeless with little discernible pop and no vibrancy to speak of, and the resulting flat and uninspired image proved to be too much for the transfer's strengths to overcome. This is a pretty mediocre transfer for a film that deserves better.
Under Siege Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that accompanies Under Siege is mostly unremarkable and dull. It's more or less solid but it lacks any real punch that a film of this nature almost demands as a vital part of the experience. It's a track that serves its purpose but it never immerses the viewer in the action, and as a result it was hard to truly get into the spirit of the film. Technically, there are a few flaws here to strike another point or two off of the final score. Dialogue sounds fine, but it is a little muted and I had to turn up the volume to a slightly higher level than normal to hear it clearly. There are some nice discrete effects across the front soundstage. The sound of the ships engines is always heard underneath the track, which is a nice effect. Otherwise, there isn't a whole lot of positive praise for this track. Unfortunately, this soundtrack never passes above the level of average. This Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is wholly forgettable.
Under Siege Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Under Siege is certainly not a film where I expect a plethora of supplements, but something more than the included 480p theatrical trailer for the film would have been most welcome. There is bound to be some kind of promotional material out there, but unfortunately it hasn't been included with this release. I'd welcome a special edition down the road, and perhaps as the Blu-ray format matures, especially with a now Blu-ray exclusive Warner Brothers, we may very well see one several years from now.
Under Siege Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Under Siege is fine entertainment that offers two solid performances by Steven Seagal and Tommy Lee Jones. Anyone expecting a film as good as Die Hard will be disappointed, but rest assured that this is a fine action movie that delivers the goods. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray presentation is not a major upgrade from the DVD edition. It lacks superior audio and video quality, and the inclusion of the film's theatrical trailer as the only supplement proved disappointing to say the least. Under Siege is recommended as a purchase only if you don't already have it on DVD.
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