On Deadly Ground (1994) starring Steven Seagal, Michael Caine, Joan Chen, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey directed by Steven Seagal Movie Review

On Deadly Ground (1994)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Steven Seagal and Joan Chen in On Deadly Ground (1994)

Forrest Under Siege

"On Deadly Ground" not only stars Steven Seagal but it is also his debut as director a deal he made with Warner Bros. which saw him in return agreeing to appear in "Under Siege 2". That is sort of ironic because for all sense and purpose "On Deadly Ground" is an "Under Siege" movie as we have a civilian with military/ CIA background taking on some bad guys who want to kill him as he is set to spoil their nefarious scheme. The sad thing is that from an action point of view "On Deadly Ground" works, Seagal looks good kicking butt, there are big explosives and inventive bombs and whilst some of it is seriously over the top it is entertaining. But then you have everything which detracts from it, from a forced environmental message, some spirit world nonsense and worst of all Michael Caine with some dodgy dyed hair making it all a bit laughable.

Forrest Taft (Steven Seagal - Under Siege) amongst other things is a hellfighter, when one of Aegis Oil's rigs is on fire it is Taft who goes in to put it out. But whilst fire fighting the latest blaze a friend tells him that he thinks Aegis Oil CEO, Michael Jennings (Michael Caine - The Muppet Christmas Carol) is corrupt and using faulty equipment. When Taft investigates the claim for himself he not only discovers it is true but finds himself a marked man as Jennings orders his men to silence him especially with Jennings needing to have his latest rig completed within 13 days or else the oil rights return to the Eskimos.

Michael Caine as Michael Jennings in On Deadly Ground (1994)

With minutes of "On Deadly ground" starting you will be in laughter, partly for the shocking sight of Michael Caine with some seriously fake looking hair but also for the shocking over the top action. It's impossible not to laugh when you watch Taft walk towards a burning oil well to place the explosives barrel and then walks away to a certain point and blows it up without turning around. It is simply laughable and not the exciting bit of heroic action which Seagal was probably hoping for.

And to be honest this opening sets the style for the rest of "On Deadly ground" as we have Taft doing various heroic things, jumping ravenes, battling bad guys and so on and so forth. It means that whilst we have this story of oil rigs and a nefarious business man the movie basically is just a variation of "Under Siege". In fact it is so much a variation on "Under Siege" that at one point we discover that Taft is not only CIA, a man they call in when no one else can do the job, but he has a stock pile of guns and explosives to start a small war. This means we have some creative explosives as Taft sets up various booby traps for those trying to silence him.

I suppose in a way this makes "On Deadly ground" a bit of a knock off especially when it tries to force home not only an environmental message but also Taft being this mystical Native American. I'm not saying that the environmental message is unimportant but it is handled in such a cringe worthy manner that you feel embarrassed by the way it is included. You also wonder why they had to include a strange mystical Eskimo scene in the middle with topless women chanting in frenzy, it is strange. It is almost as strange as a bar room scene where having bashed a man to bits Taft asks "What does it take to change the essence of a man?", what the heck is all that about.

I suppose in a way the only good thing about "On Deadly Ground" is that it was made when Seagal was still doing the action and not using a body double and editing to cover it up. But beyond Seagal kicking butt there is little else other than Michael Caine which the less said about Caine in this movie the better.

What this all boils down to is that "On Deadly Ground" is basically Steven Seagal giving us a slight variation on "Under Siege" and then sledge hammering home an environmental message in a very poor manner. It means that whilst some of the action is good "On Deadly Ground" ends up far too often laughable especially when ever Michael Caine appears with his dodgy hair.