Thursday, 4 August 2011

Under Siege

Steven Seagal stars as Casey Ryback, Hollywoods greatest culinary Navy SEAL, an implausibly lethal cook who single-handedly takes down an entire ship full of crazed terrorists out to hijack its cache of nuclear weapons. Basically it’s Die Hard on a Boat.

It may have been made in 1992 but director Andrew Davis must be given credit for including every 80’s cliché imaginable: gratuitous nudity (thank you Erika Eleniak): check, boisterous frat boy party atmosphere sound tracked to down-home blues: check, important military types sat round an enormous table barking out one-liners: check, group of terrorists marshalled by a demented mastermind (Tommy Lee Jones): check, missile explosion averted at very the last second by the hero who gets a victorious snog: check.

Under Siege should be terrible especially since Seagal has as much acting versatility as a mouldy orange. Despite its supposed flaws the film is something of a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed without the indignity of admitting so.

So, to the exploding helicopter action, and there are two examples of the art to enjoy.

After the villains take control of the ship, Seagal and Eleniak sneak on to the deck of the Missouri which is crawling with terrorists. Seagal spots the huge twin rotor Kawasaki/Vertol KV107, and despite the huge enemy presence waltzes over unseen and decides to blow it up either to cause a diversion or to prevent the bad guys from escaping. Logic isn’t this movie’s strong point so you can take your pick.

He gets some paint thinner and liberally splashes about the helicopter near the fuel tank. He sets it alight and as the chopper explodes to high heaven Seagal jumps ship to escape the blast only to be saved by some handy rope that just happened to be lying around.

Later in the film a team of Navy Seals is called in to retake the ship. However, if Seagal was worried that a chopper full of kick-ass action stars are about to come aboard and steal his thunder, he needn't have been. Tommy Lee Jones uses the Missouri's defence systems to knock the helicopter out the sky with a flick of the switch. Seagal's presence as the biggest action star on the ship is secured.

Artistic merit

The scene where Seagal blows up the deck-bound chopper was nominated for the MTV award for best action sequence losing out to the freeway scene in Terminator 2. There can be no higher accolade than that. Well almost no higher accolade.

Exploding helicopter innovation

It is rare thing to see a stationary helicopter being used purely as an explosive diversion rather then a fiery tomb for its occupants.

The Navy Seals chopper is completely routine.

Number of exploding helicopters


Do passengers survive?

That's a negative.


A pleasingly substantial explosion, free from CGI, with the bulky, hatchet faced figure of Seagal neatly silhouetted against the fireball as he leaps to safety.


You have to ask yourself was it strictly necessary to blow up a helicopter to prevent an escape on an aircraft carrier full of planes and choppers? As a diversion it is utterly pointless so you can only assume that writer J.F Lawton is a fan of exploding helicopters.

Favourite Quote

Seagal: “What is this babbling bullshit?”

Interesting Fact

The role of ditzy blonde playmate Jordan Tate wasn’t quite such a stretch of Eleniak who herself posed for Playboy in the July 1989 edition, the same month as her character.

Review by: Neon Messiah


  1. I actually remember watching that scene when this came out, and thinking "they did that just to get the exploding helicopter scene out of the way." I know when I've seen too many action movie, because I expect every helicopter I see to explode.

  2. nitpick here - but the Missouri is a battleship, not aircraft carrier, so it would probably not have any other helicopters and certainly no planes.