Tag Archives: Joan Chen

On Deadly Ground (1994, Steven Seagal)

On Deadly Ground is about a presumably Inuit (it’s never clear) special forces guy (also never clear) killing, maiming and beating up oil company goons in a number of creative ways.

Strangely, Seagal makes the audience wait to discover the film’s true nature. The first scene is an exceptionally lame and poorly acted explosion sequence. It gets fun almost immediately following, when Seagal beats up a bunch of redneck oil workers who are assaulting a Native American. Besides a really bad spiritual journey thing in the middle, the movie’s otherwise just Seagal versus the oil company goons (led by a somewhat restrained Michael Caine).

Apparently, critics at the time dismissed the film as a vanity project, but I’m having a hard time thinking of another movie icon at the height of his or her career who’s made something along the lines of this film. There’s even a line comparing Alaska to a third world oil producing country… presumably since the governments are so easy to buy.

As a director, Seagal’s bad. His composition is on par with any other crappy action movie director and he’s awful with actors–though he apparently recognized Billy Bob Thornton’s abilities and showcased him–but he’s not so bad there’s any point in vilifying him.

Joan Chen is weak as the sidekick (her character is along so Seagal can tell her all the “MacGyver” stuff he’s doing) and John C. McGinley is awful.

It’s too long, but it’s vicariously fulfilling so it passes reasonably fast.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Steven Seagal; written by Ed Horowitz and Robin U. Russin; director of photography, Ric Waite; edited by Don Brochu and Robert A. Ferretti; music by Basil Poledouris; production designer, William Ladd Skinner; produced by A. Kitman Ho, Julius R. Nasso and Seagal; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Steven Seagal (Forrest Taft), Michael Caine (Michael Jennings), Joan Chen (Masu), John C. McGinley (MacGruder), R. Lee Ermey (Stone), Billy Bob Thornton (Homer Carlton), Richard Hamilton (Hugh Palmer), Mike Starr (Big Mike) and Sven-Ole Thorsen (Otto).


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Judge Dredd (1995, Danny Cannon)

I saw Judge Dredd at a sneak preview. It was the first time I ever saw anyone walk on a movie.

It fits into a rather interesting category of disastrous would-be blockbusters–joining Flash Gordon, The Black Hole and Dune–where there’s this largely international cast–why are Jürgen Prochnow and Max von Sydow playing, basically, New Yorkers–and an overblown production and a dismal return for the studio.

Dredd‘s problem isn’t so much a lack of money–even the bad effects sequences, like the chase scene, suspend disbelief well enough–but a lousy production frame of reference. I remember when it came out, they tried for a PG-13 and didn’t get one. So instead of an R-rated action movie, you have this R-rated, pseudo-PG-13 action movie… made by Disney of all people.

Stallone’s awful in the kind of personality-free role Schwarzenegger got famous on–Cannon shoots Dredd like he’s either Robocop or the Terminator–and with the blue contact lenses, it somehow doesn’t even look like him.

When the best performance in a film is von Sydow, it’s not a surprise. When the second best performance is Rob Schneider… that situation’s different.

Diane Lane’s bad. Armand Assante doesn’t chew scenery well. Joan Chen is bad. Prochnow’s awful. It’s a ninety-some minute disaster, only tolerable because it is only ninety-some minutes and it does have really high production values.

It’s wrong-headed. I rarely use that term, but Dredd‘s wrong-headed.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Danny Cannon; screenplay by William Wisher Jr. and Steven E. de Souza, based on a story by Michael De Luca and Wisher and on the Fleetway character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra; director of photography, Adrian Biddle; edited by Alex Mackie and Harry Keramidas; music by Alan Silvestri; production designer, Nigel Phelps; produced by Charles Lippincott and Beau Marks; released by Hollywood Pictures.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (Judge Dredd), Armand Assante (Rico), Rob Schneider (Fergie), Jürgen Prochnow (Justice Griffin), Max von Sydow (Judge Fargo), Diane Lane (Judge Hershey), Joanna Miles (Judge McGruder), Joan Chen (Ilsa), Balthazar Getty (Olmeyer) and Mitch Ryan (Hammond).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | JUDGE DREDD (1995) / DREDD (2012).