Steven Seagal made his mark in action movies that allowed him to brutalize a non-stop series of oafish thugs with his trademarked open-handed bashes to their collective noses. Early in his career, he was able to capitalize on his height, his surly disposition, and his martial arts to establish his reputation as a serious action star. But with ON DEADLY GROUND, Seagal seems to be taking the same path that Tom Loughlin took a few decades ago. Loughlin, you remember, was an up and coming hapkido star who took a wrong turn in his Billy Jack spiritual message movies. His career flattened out, and Seagal's own career path has not, even now, recovered from the debacle that is this film.
Seagal goes against the big oil companies whose leader is a sadly miscast Michael Caine, who ought to have known better than to sign on the dotted line for this one. Seagal spends most of the latter part of the film in an oilrig, planting bombs as he goes. They go off, not leaving him much of an opportunity to manhandle the usual bunch of flunkeys. Fans of fight scenes will surely be disappointed with ON DEADLY GROUND since these scenes are few, far between, and generally uninteresting. Fans of a tightly plotted drama will also be disappointed since the climax is hardly a thrilling one. Finally, the last few minutes of the film is a laughable surrender to the politically correct Green Peace fringe who surely plunked down his salary. What ON DEADLY GROUND proves is that the 'deadly' of the title refers more to a sense of boredom than to a sense of danger. Suggestion to Mr. Seagal: go back to punching out hoods and leave the speechifying to Tom Loughlin.