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REVIEW: Fire Down Below (1997) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Fire Down Below (1997)

If you look at the usual metric sites for this movie and you hadn’t seen it before, you might wince and turn away and not give it a chance.  Or if you caught it in the 1990’s and haven’t seen it since, you might think that it was nothing special compared to the other action movies of the time.  Well I’m here to remind you that Fire Down Below wasn’t so bad, and if it was ‘okay’ then, it’s probably better now.  It is.

The movie sees Steven Seagal thrown into a modern western theme; a dark stranger entering and clearing up a small redneck town ruled by nefarious thugs and corrupt cops.  They’re up to no good up in them there hills, poisoning the local water supply with some type of waste, with chief baddie Kris Kristofferson directing traffic (over the phone).  In between collecting water samples, Seagal fixes porches for old men and gets friendly with the local, ostracized MILF.

But while the locals live in fear of the strongmen, Jack Taggart (Seagal) shows up and practically laughs in their face, and of course when bullies find that their intimidation is ineffective against a 6’5 martial artist, things soon turn violent, and not in the way they’d hoped.  “Damn, that sumbitch broke mah jaw!”, laments one yokel put down by Taggart.  Others who try their luck get beaten to a pulp with poles and sticks.

This was the penultimate movie from Seagal’s Warner contract and it was a severe box office bomb (the final was Exit Wounds, which was a success).  But why did it bomb despite having a decent budget and cast (Seagal, Kristofferson, Stephen Lang, Mark Collie and a few other big country singers)?  We could probably blame Warner.  The studio took the movie at the last minute and butchered it, worsening a mediocre screenplay, which was turned down by Bruce Willis, and making the tropes stand out even more by removing any character development.

Their reasoning was that they felt that since it was a Steven Seagal movie, it should be shorter and more fast paced.  But if that was the case, why did they remove some of the most expensive action scenes? Like the big intro scene featuring Seagal and his partner?  Also lacking is Kris Kristofferson, not really in the movie all that much and I’ll be damned if he isn’t a great villain.  Probably cut.

Decent fight scenes among beauty cinematography, it’s not so bad

But in saying that, even though it’s one of Steven Seagal’s weaker movies, I can tell you that I enjoyed it all the same (odd incest stuff and soft-R aside).  Seagal’s old charisma is here, he’s mostly having fun in this movie along with other cast members like Harry Dean Stanton.  The fight scenes are also good, I might even say, some of Steven Seagal’s better fight scenes.  When he takes on 10 men in the town centre, that was pretty well shot for example — lucid, realistic and painful looking.

If you can adjust your expectations, you’ll probably like this movie.  It’s classic Steve and where some people pay to see Al Pacino work the screen as a thespian, others pay to see Steven Seagal command the screen as a kinetic hard man, defending the honor of little old pensioners with his fists – that’s what happens here.  Pity we’ll never see the full version of it though, eh…?

  • Mucho Macho

    This is a great documentary by our Sensei. If hippies would like us to care more about the environment, they don’t need to bore us with stupid made up facts or stupid fake documentaries made by Al Gore or long boring speeches by the likes of Bono, whom by the way preaches global warming but is always flying around the world on a private jet.

    All they have to do is show us the documentaries “On Deadly Ground” and “Fire Down Below” and I can assure you we’ll fight environmental causes if the Sensei says we have to.

  • Anoyster

    Fine film by master Seagal, I revisited it a couple years back and enjoyed it immensely.

  • Mucho Macho

    One of the reasons why this great documentary bombed was that by the late 90s there was already a backlash against these guys in american culture.
    But I still remember watching this in the theater. Even back then a devout student of The Sensei

  • POWERSBOOTHE77

    Classic.

    More heart & soul than todays BS !!

    • Serbius

      Indeed!

  • Jeff

    This is one of my favorites and I watch it often.

  • Andymovieman

    That and exit wounds were the last good movies from Seagal and warner bros.

  • Just ordered it. One of the last good ones from the 90s then. Van Damme finished up his career around this time too

    • Mucho Macho

      I remember Van Damme’s “Maximum Risk” opened at the number one spot at the box office in September of ’97.
      Earlier in the year he had “Double Team”. The following year he had “Knock-Off” and then he had “Universal Soldier: The Return” in ’99 in cinemas.
      After that I did not see him again on the big screen until “The Expendables 2” in 2012

  • ChrisWhite

    7 of 10, way too high!

    • POWERSBOOTHE77

      Way too low!

  • Der

    It’s his last good one he was already aging badly but still looked ok and at least he talked and isn’t dubbed and I think it’s all him in the fights still ,the photo above looks like he’s skipping down the street with the two cops ,like it but think 7 outta tens to high 6 mabey 5 all his later ones are 1or 2 outta ten some are minus

    • Mucho Macho

      Btw Der… did you have Jim killed?!
      Lol
      He hasn’t posted here in a while

      • Der

        Yes Jim is dead never mention him again just remember him in better times.

        • Mucho Macho

          Give him back his laptop so he can post😨

          • Der

            I’m not digging a hole up just to get you a lap top😀

          • Mucho Macho

            Lol
            Seriously I hope he is okay..just like I hope u okay.
            I hope your boxers and everything else in your life is doing well my friend.

          • Der

            Yea me too I’m sure he’s fine probably busy ,yea all good in the hood ,I said that in a Christoper walking voice

          • Mucho Macho

            Nice 2 hear.
            When one of your boys makes it on TV let me know

  • Barney Ross

    The Glimmer man is much better but i love that one too

  • Barney Ross

    To me the best Seagal films are :
    Under Siege (1992) – 10/10
    Under Siege 2 (1995) – 10/10
    Marked for Death – 10/10
    The Glimmer Man (1997) – 10/10

    I also like his old movies but they’re lower budget

    Exit Wounds was his last good one in 2001, produced by JOEL SILVER thats why

  • Barney Ross

    I’d give it 8 or 9/10

  • Barney Ross

    Fuck it its a classic after watching it, 10/10

  • GWB 8219

    Really enjoyed this movie. Wish this and Glimmer Man would get a blu ray release. Just about everything after this that he did has gone to shit, where he no longered seemed to put any effort in to his movies.