UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY (1993)
Rating: 2.5 on 4 / Buy the Blu-ray here
Tagline: A top secret nuclear satellite. A team of international terrorists. A government held hostage. An undetectable moving headquarters. Only one hero stands in the way.
Directed by Geoff Murphy
Starring Steven Seagal, Eric Bogosian, Morris Chestnut, and Katherine Heigl
THE PLAN: Carey Ryback (Steven Seagal), still the best ex-Navy Seal on the planet and a well-renowned cook, is traveling from Denver to L.A. with his niece (Katherine Heigl) via train to attend the funeral of his brother. Said train is hijacked by mercenaries led by Travis Dane (Eric Bogosian) who is using the train as a moving headquarters as they try and blow-up Washington D.C. for a ton of cash via a stolen government satellite. What Dane and his soldiers-for-hire weren't counting on is the off-duty cook who has experience in this type of thing.
THE KILL: Steven Seagal busted on the scene with ABOVE THE LAW (1988) but really didn't hit box office gold until 1992's UNDER SIEGE, a film that remains on top as one of (if not the) best flicks the guys has made. It was "DIE HARD on a boat" and since this was the era of "DIE HARD on a ____", it worked. And because it made a ton of cash there was always room for a sequel, hence... UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY aka "DIE HARD on a train". Seagal's back as cook/ex-Seal Casey Rybeck, this time on the wrong train at the wrong time, with a madman who wants to create earthquakes with a powerful satellite, thus creating total chaos and mass destruction on the ground--for one... billion... dollars! And that's when UNDER SIEGE 2 became just a cash-cow of cheesy ridiculousness and not the legit film we were expecting to see.
But hey, we're just shy of 20 years later, so how the hell does DARK TERRITORY hold up? Quite well, actually... that is, if you're judging it solely on its entertainment value. And by entertainment, I mean so bad it's good. That said, it's actually quite better than the majority of the straight-to-DVD flicks Seagal cranks out these days, and if you're a fan of the man, then you'll be a fan of this one. Plus, you get to see a super-young Katherine Heigl as Seagal's niece and a plethora of recognizable bad guys, including Peter Greene, Patrick Kilpatrick, Dale Dye, and even Kurtwood Smith shows up as one of the army's generals.
Hi, I'm Steven Seagal, and I'm going to nail you later. It's what I do.
What does DARK TERRITORY have going for? For starters, Seagal is his usual macho self, relishing in being cool and collected even after he gets shot or gets thrown from a moving train. It's Seagal doing what Seagal does, and if that's all you need, you get it full-force here. Dale Dye plays the leader of the mercenaries and is as badass and all-around evil as you would hope, showing that Seagal may be up against some real competition. That is, until they have their final fight sequence, and only Seagal remembers his training and Dye forgets how to fight. There's an epic train crash featured in the film's climax which is pretty dope, and a number of cool hand-to-hand fight sequences, bloody kills, and machine gun fights to pass the time and keep things from getting boring.
Unfortunately, there's a lot more going against the flick. Eric Bogosian, for starters, is the worse bad guy in the history of bad guys. He's goofy looking and always has a smirk on his face as if to say "This movie sucks, right? But it's cool, cause I know it sucks. Look at my stupid hair." A horrible Tommy Lee Jones replacement, in other words. Then there's Morris Chestnut, Seagal's defunct sidekick who spends most of all of his screen time complaining, talking mid-90s jive, and trying desperately to be funny. Too bad he sucks. And maybe most of all... the train setting itself. A plane would have been the natural progression for a sequel, but a train? One, who the f*ck takes a train cross-country anymore (even in '95)? Two, the whole "dark territory" angle is dated and just stupid (it's an area of the route that is a total communication blackout... I think), and three... there's only so many places to run and hide while on a train. Boats are big and planes are double-decker and have all sorts of baggage compartments, but trains? There's a front, a middle, and a back. Shouldn't be too hard to find someone, and yet... Seagal has a way of escaping death numerous times.
She tried to bring back the Macarena but failed miserably.
Weighing in all the good with the bad, however, leads me to my final conclusion that DARK TERRITORY is a fun, albeit mindless and oftentimes idiotic, good time. The cheesy music escalates during Seagal's presence, the bad guys are ruthless with the killing of hostages, there's horrible stock footage of China blowing up, and the final explosion sequence has some of the worse CGI ever produced for the big screen. There's a fairly high body count, plenty of dorky dialogue sprinkled throughout, and even Heigl's role is fun to watch, if only because she's a star now (her character is pretty useless). So while it's no surprise it was a total failure at the box office and that the majority of the movie going audience who liked UNDER SIEGE didn't like DARK TERRITORY, fans of the REEL ACTION, fans of Steven Seagal, and fans of mid-90s action flicks (in general), should enjoy it for what it is.
Trailer for UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY!
TOP DEATH: I'm awarding this prize to about six different deaths because they all died in a similar fashion and each one was as brutal (and yet wholeheartedly entertaining) as the one before it: numerous peeps fall from some sort of high peak (a bridge, a cliff, etc...), and each one hits the ground with such brutal force that it's hard not to cheer in its brutality. And yes... they show each impact before cutting away.
Worst. Bad guy. Ever.
TOP ACTION SCENE: After saving the hostage and killing the bad guys, Seagal's train has a head-on collision with another train while Seagal's still on board. So he does what nay hero would do: as the train is exploding all around him, he outruns the destruction through five train cars, then jumps out the back before total annihilation... to be saved by a low-hanging ladder from a helicopter above. It's in the trailer for a reason... it's flippin' awesome!
If I kill her, the world will never have LIFE AS WE KNOW IT! I'm warning you!
TOP HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: Seagal's sidekick Bobby Zachs (Morris Chestnut), one of the train's porters, has a fruity twinge about him, a twinge that shows up in full-force after he overtakes a helicopter and threatens to kill the pilot if he doesn't do what he says. Problem is, he's rockin' a man-imitating-a-chick's voice, taking the whole "baddass" effect and flushing it down the toilet.
FEMALE EXPLOITATION: The film opens with a room full of male government employees testing out their new state-of-the-art multi-million dollar satellite by zooming in on some random chick's tits while she's sunbathing in the nude on some beach somewhere on the planet. Then later, Seagal uses one of the hostage's big ol' boobies as a distraction before beating the shit out of a bad guy.
This classic Steven Seagal stance can be seen in every movie he's ever done, making this movie still applicable to his entire film biography.
[quoted by numerous people]: Assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups!
Seagal [after kicking someone's ass in the kitchen]: Nobody beats me in the kitchen.
DRINKING GAME: Every time you see Katherine Heigl and think "hehe, that's Katerine Heigl!", you gotta drink!
TRIVIA: Producers originally wanted Gary Busey back as the bad guy... until they realized he died in part 1.
Steven Seagal: Return of the Mack
GET THE DVD HERE