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FIRE DOWN BELOW ($25) is a surprisingly entertaining action movie, which delivers an important ecological message about the horrors of dumping toxic waste. In FIRE DOWN BELOW, Steven Seagal stars as Jack Taggart, an agent for the Environment Protection Agency who goes undercover in the Appalachian hills of Jackson, Kentucky after another investigator turns up dead. While undercover, Taggart comes upon an illegal toxic chemical dump inside an abandoned mine. Soon the town’s crooked police come after Taggart, who is forced to reveal his real identity before he starts busting heads.

FIRE DOWN BELOW has the required number of impossible action sequences and Steven Seagal flexes his muscles while displaying his martial arts prowess. The high caliber cast of FIRE DOWN BELOW features Marg Helgenberger as Sarah Kellogg, the small town girl with a deep, dark secret whom Taggart takes a liking to. Harry Dean Stanton does a fine job as local yokel Cotton Harry, who turns out to be a lot smarter than he seems. Kris Kristofferson is downright slimy as the film’s primary villain Orin Hanner. Lately, Kristofferson seems to be taking a great deal of pleasure from playing these nasty roles. Stephen Lang, Brad Hunt, Levon Helm, Ed Bruce Richard Masur and Randy Travis help fill out the cast.

Warner Home Video offers FIRE DOWN BELOW in both Letterboxed and full screen presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. The full screen transfer is acceptable viewing; image wise it is very similar to its Letterboxed counterpart. The Letterboxed transfer is preferable since it restores the film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio and feature the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. FIRE DOWN BELOW isn’t the best looking DVD ever produced, but the Letterboxed transfer is a serviceable representation of the film’s original cinematography. Color reproduction is fairly natural and the image detailed, but there are instances where film grain appears slightly more noticeable than one has come to expect from newer films. Digital compression artifacts were seldom bothersome on either presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1channel soundtrack has a typical action movie mix, with a lot of directional effects and fairly good bass. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround compatible track, plus a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The Interactive menus offer access to eighth theatrical trailers, production notes and cast and crew biographies/filmographies.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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