Belly of the Beast
"Don't even rent it. Catch it only if you see it on cable and even then switch the channels around. You know what? Just don't even bother."
- Mister Gil
Belly of the Beast (2003)
Director: Ching Siu Tung
Kung Fu Choreography: Tony Ching Siu Tung
Producer: John Thompson, Avi Lerner
Cast: Steven Seagal, Byron
Mann, Tom Wu, Sara Malukul Lane, Patrick Robinson, Monica Lo, Vicent Riotta
Plot: Steven Seagal and his stunt double along with his former partner, go to Thailand to kill lots of Thai's.
MISTER GIL'S REVIEW: They should have just called this movie, "Crap on a Stick."
You know at the same time I read that Ching Siu Tung was working on a Seagal film was the same time I heard that he was have a pretty shitty time working on it. After seeing this movie, these stories on the making of this film make total sense, cause it sucks. That really should have influenced the distributors to call it the name I suggested above. Think about it, they could have marketed this movie straight to video with like a sweepstakes. It can be something like:
"Watch this film, and write a letter with your theory as to why Seagal is still making movies. Win a trip to Thailand!"
It pains me to write this, cause it's fucking Ching Siu Tung film dammit! For god's sakes, this is the same guy who made the Chinese Ghost Story trilogy, the Swordsman trilogy, was the stunt coordinator on The Killer and fucking Hero (2002). How did he get stuck working on a movie starring wannabe action film hero who refuses to accept that he's fat?
So what's this movie about? Yeah... like it fucking matters.
Seagal's daughter gets kidnapped while she's in Thailand so that gives Seagal all the excuse in the world to go to Thailand and kill lots of Thai's via massive amounts of hand slaps and the help of his stunt double who does most of the work.
See, I told you it didn't matter. In fact, it matters even less since the story is so unbelievably routine it's not even funny. Every cliché you can think of is thrown in this mess. The predictability nature of this film got so bad, that at one point when a specific character was introduced and I said to myself, "OK, that person's gonna die by the time the last fight scene comes up or after it." And that's exactly what fucking happened. All of that shouldn't be surprising since Seagal was credited with coming up with the story on this film. That's right. Seagal came up with this film, which I guess isn't as bad as actually directing it, but now he is responsible for creating a giant stain on the filmography of Ching Siu Tung. In fact, a lot of the scenes in the movie are too shameless in their intent. Like, you know those scenes where Seagal would just go into a club and within three seconds of being there gets into a fight? Yeah, that shit happens and it only happens to prove to his fan base (all 14 of 'em) that he still has what it takes to "take care of business" on screen, as long as he has a big overlong dark coat to hide the body of fat that hibernates in that stomach of his and his stunt double by his side.
There are also shameless scenes that involve Seagal hanging out with monks cause he's just so spiritual and that down with Asians. Speaking of being "down," Seagal has recently started to add another aggravating habit to add to his already lame on-screen persona. Don't know if you have noticed this by now, but nowadays Seagal seems to like to adapt to who he's talking to. Apparently, if the gentlemen who rises up to Seagal is of a darker complexion than he is, then that will suddenly inspire Seagal to talk like one of the brothas. That's right, Seagal attempts to enter a bit of the urban street language into his mannerisms while speaking to a person who is not white. What's sad is how shameless his exertion in delivering Ebonics is, since he comes across as some southern white trash after watching a couple of hours of BET. He's done that a few times in his last few movies but at least he has the excuse of him being with other rappers in the film, so that way he could just he was just trying to be "down." The thing is, when he was talking like that in this movie, the black guy wasn't a rapper or a thug. He happened to be a CIA official.
Yeah... I know.
Now, I wouldn't mind the lack of a good or interesting story as long as we get what we were looking for which are the action scenes, since after all Ching Siu Tung's name is on this film. But sadly on that front it simply does not deliver. The first action scene does show some glimmer of hope actually. Ching Siu Tong, who's credited with two separate names on the film (most likely a desperate attempt to split the blame for the end product of this godforsaken jinx to someone else, even if he has to be imaginary) actually manages, in some way, to come up with ways to choreograph the set pieces while keeping with Seagal's style. However, "style" is not part of Seagal's repertoire. Words like, "overweight fuck," "embarrassment to society," and "a washed up never was" make up the only "style" that this sorry lardass will ever have. On top of that, the editor simply didn't know how to cut together whatever shots Ching Siu Tung and "Tony Ching Siu Tung" were able to get out of Seagal and his stunt double. However, in this case, I probably can't lay all the blame on the editor since Seagal is pretty useless to begin with especially in front of such a demanding action film maker like Siu Tung. The construction of most of the action scenes were made up of lots of shots trying to hide Seagal being extensively doubled and quick cuts applied to try to make him look more effective on screen. Well, at least they tried.
Speaking of doubles.....Jesus Christ, it couldn't be more obvious! One shot would have Seagal pulling out the ol' classic hand slaps of death and then it cuts to the back of some dude pulling out a series of rapid fire spinning jump kicks and sweeps. Then it cuts to a close up of Seagal's ugly mug going, "Ugh!"
Yeah... sure it was you, ya fat fuck.
Everything else in terms of action here is such a bore. The majority of it is just lame slow motion shoot outs with nothing happening besides Seagal shooting in slow motion and people getting shot in slow motion. Sure, there are flashes of Ching Siu Tung's brilliance at work in the film but, when I write "flashes," I mean it. Like a second or two that'll make you go, "Hmmm... that was cool." However a couple of cool moments that last a second or two in a 90 min film isn't gonna cut it. In fact, most of this movie seems to have been shot by a second unit. Very little shows in this film of Ching Siu Tung being behind the camera. I can imagine he grew quite a frustration and just decided to "phone it in" to get it done as soon as possible. In fact, there are two shots, one at the beginning and one at the end of the film, that seem to have been lifted from Ching Siu Tung's earlier HK works (Naked Weapon and Blacksheep Affair). This is defiantly not the Ching Siu Tung I know and love and that is due without a doubt on the bad experience during the making the film itself. In other words, something was just not happening on the set, like Seagal trying to lift his leg up without falling and breaking his ass.
None of the supporting cast help this mess at all either. Like take "actress" Monica Lo (whose performance in Naked Weapon was so horrible and friggin' annoying, that I find it miracle she wasn't in Gen Y Cops) who plays some Thai girl that Seagal meets. Monica's "acting" approach is quite unique because apparently it involves lots of inconsistency in her "acting." You see, she's not really Thai but she plays one in the movie. So her approach to grasp the character is to fake a Thai accent by speaking fluent English but dropping a key word from a sentence or not conjugating words in her dialog, like, "I go with you now" or "He not even know I here." Each word is pronounced with perfect mastery of the English language may I add cause apparently, Thai whores (that's what she is in the film) learn the art of pronouncing words precisely in English but forget to add those hard to remember one word or two important words in conversation. The inconsistency however comes in the fact that after like her third appearance in the film, she starts speaking fluent English from them on. I guess while Seagal was busy lowering the population of terrorists in Thailand, our lady Lo pulled out her "English for Thai Whores Dummies" book and finished that one chapter she missed.
So what's her character's story? She's a Thai girl. What's her role in the movie? To have no development as a character whatsoever and just follow Segal around until at one point she confesses her undying love for him (without there actually being a relationship between them I might add) which follows a cheap slow motion "erotica" segment where the two "fuck." It's funny too cause it's just one shot in slow motion where Monica climbs up the top of the mountain that is Segal and throws her hair back. And then that's it. No full shot of her cause then that would reveal Seagal's elephantine frame which is something that, thankfully, Ching Siu Tung saved us, as an audience, from going through. Hell, we're just trying to get passed this thing alive, we don't want to be scarred coming out of it. And besides, no audience would believe it if they pulled out a body double for Seagal in that scene with abs since it's obvious that the freak possesses a jumbo gut.
Oh yeah, the guy who played Ryu in Street Fighter (the movie that killed Raul Julia) is in this and some dude dressed as woman who get his/her necked snapped by Segal (right after he says, "I liked you better as a bitch.")
With a story you can predict as soon as the basic elements are introduced to you, bad acting (lead by "actress" Monica Lo), and action scenes that were so bad that Ching Siu Tung used both of his names to spread the blame over, there really isn't much else to say to sway you from this disaster. It's honestly a waste of time and in my case a waste of 25 bucks (yup, I'm selling it online as soon as I finish writing this).
Don't even rent it. Catch it only if you see it on cable and even then switch the channels around. You know what? Just don't even bother.
MISTER GIL'S RATING: 2/10