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September 08, 1997 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-08

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 8, 1997 - 9A

Soggy Seagal extinguishes 'Fire'

By Joshua Rich
Daily Arts Writer
Clearly a master of many talents,
action-monger Steven Seagal in his new
m "Fire Down Below," does more
n merely karate chop the hell out of
tbad guys. He actually sings and
y the guitar.
Iylso smiles on
GOsion.
,Aid it's a good
ttig that Seagal
&cided to, shall
;-say, expand
::fine acting
ities in this
rwise banal
j.boxing flick.'
ept for the
J ing moments
en Seagal war- y
byes away on few '
ities with Travis
tritt and Randy ' .
Travis, "Fire a F
Down Below"
offers its dedicat-
ed viewer noth- Steven Seagal thani
iiew. try boy In "Fire Dow
At this point,
10 films into Seagal's career, the main
problem with his movies is that
absolutely no one on the face of the
Earth poses a threat to him. The recipe

for a halfway decent action flick pre-
scribes a little bit of danger - the
slightest threat to the protagonist's life.
When we perceive such danger, the
hero's escape and triumph thus seem all
the more miraculous. Here, as usual,
this one-man execution squad doesn't
even flinch when
he is jumped by a
bulging throng of
tattooed hillbil-
lies, and neither
do we. As expect-
ed, Seagal renders
handicapped all
his aggressors in
less than a
minute, and then
Y he fixes his pony-
tail.
Just as in any
other Seagal
movie, the plot
serves as an
excuse for ran-
dom beatings and
explosions. And
God he's a coun- we do get plenty
Below." of them. The star
plays an EPA
agent sent to rural Kentucky to investi-
gate illegal toxic waste dumping.
Masquerading as an aid worker, Seagal
at once plays nice to the innocent local

folk (including the;
Dean Stanton and1

accomplished Harry
Marg Helgenberger,

who both deserve better) and snarls
when the baddies
get in his way. He
uncovers a mas- RI
sive eco-terrorist Fire I
operation run by Fri
corporate villain
Kris Kristofferson
and enforced by a At Sri
stereotypical band
of bourbon-swigging pickup truck dri-
vers.
True to his role as omnipotent creep
and small-town protector, Kristofferson
sicks his legion of henchmen on Seagal,
only to have the Aikido master summar-
ily break all their noses. One neat feature
is to see the film's two opponents -
singer-turned-actor Kristofferson and
thespian-turned-crooner Seagal --final-
ly lock horns in an explosion-laden
finale. Guess who wins?
The director, Felix Enriquez Alcala, a
veteran of TV shows like "NYPD Blue"
and "ER,' would have you think that
Kentucky is the world's poorest place,
second, perhaps, only to some famine-
infested South American swamp. At one
point, Seagal even suggests that he's
unwittingly walked into "Deliverance"
territory. Unfortunately, in "Fire Down
Below" there's no inbred toothless banjo

E
War

kid around to scare the crap out of him
and us. Instead, the plight of Appalachia
acts more as a cartoon backdrop for all
of Seagal's typically
slow, calculated
V I E W prowlings.
Last year, when
own Below Seagal quickly and
unceremoniously
skydived without a
wood and showcase parachute in
" E x e c u t i v e
Decision," it looked as if he had finally
lost his predestined place on
Hollywood's walk of fame. But he's
come back, and what has made him into
the celebrity he is today escapes me. I
guess there is something cool about a
ship's cook or an environmental activist
being a Kung-Fu fighter. Seagal, like
Bruce Lee before him, lives out every
male fantasy to its orgasmic conclusion,
and then does it all over again. He moves
and talks slowly so that we know that he
means business, and he looks extremely
deadly because his victims shriek a lot
when he pokes them in the eyes.
But Seagal's darting glare and swift
punches have gotten old.
So has that ridiculous black spandex
and Nehru jacket getup he always wears.
He can kick all the butt in the world, but
next to a bunch of dudes in overalls, old
Steven just looks like a fool.

"Now, both of you go back there and separate your trash from your recyclables."

iks
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The University of Michigan School of Art & Design in
conjunction with the Year of Humanities and the Arts and the
Office of the President present an encore performance of
"Pro' ndly Dance Gallery/Peter Sparling & Co.
expe ental" SEVEN ENIGMAS
The A rbor
News a multimedia collaboration,.conceived by
Peter Sparling and Jim Cogswell
"Exc nt Also featuring
Ma Sparling's BERLINER MASS
The Gr d
Rapidsr ess Saturday, September 13, 1997, 8:00 pm
Power Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets are $18 and $14. Student tickets are $7.
Tickets for the performance may be purchased through
the Michigan League Ticket Office 911 N. University
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1265 beginning August 18
by mail or by phone 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday-Friday
313 764-0450. The ticket office accepts Master Card, Visa
and Discover. Beginning September 2, tickets may be
purchased in person at the League Ticket Office,
Monday-Friday 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. Day of performance,
tickets may be purchased in person at the Power Center
box office beginning 7:00 pm.
10 :17111 w =111=41111
Dance Gallery Studio, home of Peter Sparling & Co. fall classes start
September 8. For information please call 313 747-8885.

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