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Belly of the Beast
IMDB Rating: 4.7/10 from 16 votes
Release: 24 February 2004 (Netherlands) /

Belly of the Beast

Genre: Action
Director:
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Ten years ago, Jake Hopper was a CIA agent who was stationed in Thailand. Then one day, things went sour, and his partner, Sunti barely escaped with his life...after accidentally killing a woman. Jake called it quits and returned to the United States when his wife died, and Sunti became a Buddhist monk to atone for his sins. For the past 10 years, Jake has run a successful private security business, and has been raising his daughter Jessica, who is now an adult. While hiking in Thailand, Jessica and her friend Sarah Winthorpe are kidnapped. A group of Islamic fundamentalists known as the Abu Karaf claims responsibility. Sarah is the daughter of United States senator John Winthorpe. For ransom, the Abu Karaf demand the release of 20 prisoners from American custody. The US Secretary of State urges restraint -- he won't negotiate. Tom Collins, an ex-colleague of Jake's, recognizes Jessica on the ransom tape and tips Jake off. Jake knows that he must rescue the girls himself. An old CIA ... Written by Todd Baldridge

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Critic Reviews

Jake Hopper is ex-CIA who retired from the job after a bad shooting incident, although he still does work on the side for an old Agency buddy. When his daughter is kidnapped along with her friend (a Senator's daughter) while on a backpacking holiday in the far east, Jake's contact tells him. With official channels working to get the girls' back, Jake joins up with his old partner and begins trawling the underworld looking for the gang that has his girl.

Despite getting consistently burnt, I keep on coming back to Steven Seagal films - I can't help it. I always go to the video store (for that is where Seagal now resides) looking for something to veg out in front of that will entertain me without challenging or stimulating me; it is a sad condemnation of Seagal films that they rarely manage to do even that most basic of requests. However, in some regards, Belly of the Beast is actually a reasonable film. The plot is pretty standard and relies on nonsense to move it forwards - stuck with no clues, a girl approaches Jake with a mystery tattoo on her naked chest that only appears when she gets wet! Talk about an excuse for nudity! This sort of plot device is over used; too often the film has things just happen for a way of moving the plot forward.

The plot is poorly developed and it also has elements that just seem to have been thrown in in order to fulfil the formula. The love interest is one good example of an element that is silly and simply doesn't work. What does work is the action. For once in recent Seagal films, the fight scenes are actually pretty enjoyable even if they do overdo the slowmo effects. Seagal himself is quite effective; despite his weight gain he manages to move quite well here - even if most of it involves upper body work rather than full motion.

As an actor though, Seagal is about as bad as ever: his emotional range is rubbish, as seen in his reaction when told his daughter has been kidnapped (`you don't say' he blankly emotes!). He even is blank when kissing the gorgeous Lo - so what hope is there for him? Having said that, the worst moment in the film is one that is another actor's fault. In one scene Seagal is dubbed by an actor who sounds nothing like him - it is a laughable moment and a sad comment on the effort Seagal is putting into his films now (unable or unwilling to show up for ADR). Luckily for him, his support cast is OK. Mann's sidekick is good and Wu makes for a decent bad guy despite having very low screen time. Monica Lo is very beautiful and sexy - just a shame that her scenes where she gradually falls for Seagal make more for laughter than passion! Even these few good performances are still pretty basic though and the standard is no better than Seagal's usual stuff.

Overall, if you watch Seagal films a lot, then this will probably be better than you are used to, despite not actually being that good a film. The acting, script and plotting are as poor as you would expect but it is in the action stakes where this film improves upon his recent efforts. Understand that this is still not saying a great deal in my opinion but it still makes the film a lot better to have well choreographed and quite exciting fight scenes. If you have to watch a recent Seagal film, then this is probably the one to pick.

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