Top positive review
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A vast improvement, in more way than one!
on 13 October 2012
I'm a big fan of Steven Seagal, so much so that I have every film he as released to date across multiple formats, but even the most ardent of fans surely cannot deny the considerable drop in the quality of his output.
There has been a gradual decline in production values from more or less his first few films, there have been the ocassional glimmers of hope offered but these are very much few and far between unfortunately.
However, 'Undersiege' is a film that very much shows the actor at the height of his powers; a good story, high production values, and an excellent cast with a reliable director resulted in this film being his biggest financial success to date.
If 'Undersiege' is to be remembered as the finest film of Steven Seagal's career I see no shame in that.
I won't take the time here to provide a synopsis of the story, I can imagine that there are few purchasing this Blu-ray who have not seen the film at some point, I will instead concentrate on the reasons as to why someone who may already own this film on DVD should re-invest in this high definition version from America.
Ok, first things first, this Blu-ray disc is REGION FREE.
Secondly the disc casing whilst having the same general dimensions as UK versions is the thinner American type, measuring 10mm thick (rather than 15mm), I only mention this because it may bother some, personally I think I actually prefer them!
The running time of the feature is 103 minutes, the UK DVD release is 98 minutes, and therein lies the first advantage of this version, it is UNCUT.
Just about all of the Region 2 DVD releases of Steven Seagal's early films (ie. the best ones!) have been heavilly censored; I actually first became aware of this several years a go when I purchased the Region 1 DVD version of 'On Deadly Ground', this much maligned film certainly has its faults but I simply could not believe just how much better the longer uncut version was.
And so it is also the case here.
The main difference is that the scenes of violence are generally just that little longer, the camera shots linger just that second or two more when a limb has been broken for instance, but trust me when I say that it makes a huge difference. An example that springs to mind is when Seagal's character Casey Ryback pushes a 'villian' into a bandsaw, the blade cuts into the unfortunate chaps shoulder, and whereas the censored version shows the impact but then very quickly 'cuts' (please excuse the pun!), this version shows the blade cutting into the body part quite some way (I know this doesn't sound very nice, and of course it is gratuitous, but it does illustrate my point I hope!).
The film has many examples such as this, and although there are no major alterations to the actual story, what changes there are do add up to it being quite different to the UK version.
With regards to the audio and visual improvements, they are superb.
This Blu-ray release of Under Siege delivers everything you could hope for from a 1080p High Definition transfer of a film that is now twenty years old (my God that makes me feel old, I remember going to the cinema to see it on a date!).
I have played it side by side to my DVD version for comparison and the difference in clarity is stunning, in particular the scenes at night and in the bowels of the ship, with low light the extra clarity really comes into its own.
The sound is also excellent, I didn't find this to be such a huge improvement however with it being presented in the same 5.1 as the DVD version, but this is no bad thing as it still sounds spectacular with the sound turned up!
The disc is pretty bare bones with just a trailer on offer.
There are subtitles provided in English, French and Spanish; there is an audio track provided in the same languages.
Overall I am really pleased with this Blu-ray; despite already owning the film on DVD (and VHS before that!) it has still proved to be a most worthwhile acquisition, with the added bonus of having additional footage that improves the film on top of the massively improved picture quality, thus making it a justifiable purchase for anyone regardless of whether they already own it on DVD or not.