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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Belly Of The Beast

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw


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Posted January 18 2004 - 02:11 PM

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Belly Of The Beast

Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2003

U.S. Rating: R
Canadian Rating: 18A
Rated for: Violence, Language, and Brief Nudity

Film Length: 91 minutes
Genre: Action

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned: Yes

Layer Change: unnoticeable

Release Date: January 20, 2004

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Belly of the Beast is one of those action movies one watches because it’s got Steven Seagal in it. Okay, maybe not. I’ll be upfront with you; I’m not a Seagal fan. Though, I think watching his movies are amusing only because I think his acting is so bad. I hear Van Damn’s name whispering in the wind too, but I’m just talking about our martial arts friend Steven here.

He’s played in seventeen films since 1988, and while some like Marked for Death, Out For Justice, and Under Siege are some of his best and most loved films, the most recent films over the past few years have failed to garner much support even by some of his die-hard fans. I was attracted to this film mainly because some of it was filmed in my country of Canada (oh, don’t I feel special). This seems to be the growing trend now anyways because of the lower costs, so it’s nice to feel a little more at home once and a while when I’m watching a film.

Sadly, I think this is another film fans of Seagal will be disappointed over. While the film isn’t horrible, it’s not great either. The movie revolves around the kidnapping of Jake Hopper’s daughter Jessica (Steven Seagal & Sarah Malukul Lane) while she’s on vacation in Thailand. Suspected in the kidnapping is a group of Abu Karaf terrorists, so the CIA has plans to launch an attack mission to save her. Hopper was a CIA agent himself, and though he’s been off duty for ten years, nothing is going to stop him from rescuing his daughter. Upon his arrival, he seeks the advice of his old partner Sunti (Byron Mann - having the only decent performance). Now turned Buddhist, he gives Jake his blessing from all in the temple. Hopper’s journey will be a tale of one where magic is used to defeat and prayer is used to save.

What makes this movie unexciting is lack of character development and the poor acting. People in this film make decisions that are out of character and we really don’t know why. I felt the film was rushed thus leaving me to watch frigid characters deliver no sense of urgency to the situations they are in. Everyone speaks as if they are being cued to, and there is a lot of overacting by the females. It reminded me of my days in high school drama class. Seagal as the lead delivers no excitement at all either. Still showing his trademark of squinty eyes and a ponytail, he is portrayed as a quiet, emotionless, slow moving man in black hiding the belly he’s developed over the years. He’s clearly not the fit-looking man he once used to be. While there is only one scene where he actually says a few sentences in a row at once, he does know how to kick butt in this movie. It’s only at the very end of the film when I actually felt touched by what was presented on this film, and that was well done to my satisfaction.

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Widescreen enhanced correctly at 1.85:1, this film is dark making it difficult to distinguish details in all areas of the picture. Couple this with a “thick” appearance, or lacking the finer details seen on better film elements, a completely dark room is recommended for watching.

The movie is very warm to the point it was bothersome. Outdoor scenes try to capture the warm sunsets of Thailand, but telecine colouring went a little too far as all objects look a little red. Like “Once Upon A Time In Mexico”, the green grass has an orange hue, and people’s faces can look pink and purple depending on the lighting in the film (no, it’s not my display’s grayscale tracking). The one good thing about this picture is the subtitles are burned in on the film rather than being generated by my player. Bravo!

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The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix is a mixed bag of joy. While there is an expansive music score wrapping into the surrounds, most of the sound effects come from the center channel. This movie gives you a good reason to have a good center speaker since there is a heavy reliance on it. For those of you with small centers, this movie’s sound will be weak and thin. Dialogue tends to be more forward than I’d like it to be, and at times (such as when Jake surprisingly meets Lulu in his hotel room) Segal’s voice is surrounded by high frequency noise.

On occasion, there are other effects that make it to the main speakers, but all sounds lack good fidelity and resolution. If you are looking for a movie to make your subwoofer rumble loud, this movie has some serious intense bass! I haven’t heard so much bass in a film in a while. Most of the bass emanates from the sounds of drums in the score coming from the main channels putting to use full range speakers. While bass doesn’t go deep in frequency, there is enough pulsating mid-bass to exercise caution with the smaller subs. Be careful of this especially if all bass is summed into your LFE channel. This movie is the perfect reason why I need a second sub for my LFE (opposite of the one I have, and independent of my mains), just to balance the room’s LFE bass a little more.

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The film’s theatrical trailer is the only feature we get on this release. Presented in DD2.0, at least its widescreen enhanced. Trailers for other Seagal films are also included.


I’m closing, Belly of the Beast wasn’t my kind of action flick. I prefer a film written with solid characters even if it’s a low budget action movie. There really isn’t much to impress with this film, honestly. But if you are a Seagal fan, I’m sure you’ll want to check this one out. For anyone, it might provide some entertainment as a rental movie on a quiet evening. For me, I’ll wait to see if the next Seagal flick is any better.

Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

Video Contributor

CANADA HiFi Magazine

#2 of 2 OFFLINE   James FT

James FT

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Posted February 01 2004 - 06:31 AM

I watched,it was good not great I thought the special effects were good splitting an arrow with a bullet. However with all that gunfire shot at two people who remainded unscaithed was a bit much ok film

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