2023 (May 30, 2023)
Highfield Grange Studios (Well Go USA Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
The Siege is a prime example of a good concept gone wrong. This low-budget effort starts well but quickly devolves into a series of staged action sequences, including fire fights, martial arts, and brutal hand-to-hand combat.
Daniel Stisen (Last Man Down) portrays Walker, a hired assassin who looks like a bearded version of Rambo. On a recent mission, one of his witnesses was left alive. In danger of being exposed, he must report to a reassignment center to receive a new identity, a procedure he’s been through before. In addition to being issued new fake documents, he must have his fingerprints burned off. While his new papers are still being processed, the facility comes under attack. Armed mercenaries are targeting two women, Juliet (Yennis Cheung, Babes With Blades) and her protector, Elda (Lauren Okadigbo, Black Widow).
Not wanting to get involved in their plight, Walker nonetheless is drawn in when he’s attacked and learns that the attackers have orders to leave no witnesses. He teams up with Juliet and Elda in a literal fight for survival.
The plot provides many opportunities for action sequences, most of which are well staged and far more interesting than the story, which relies on cliches about good guys outnumbered by bad guys. Apart from the leads, most of the cast consists of stunt performers, which at least makes for some exciting action.
Director Brad Watson wastes little time getting to the action. The opening sequence is easily the best. A van carrying heavily armed guards and a hooded, bound prisoner travels along a lonely road at night. When their path is blocked by a tractor, the guards cautiously exit the van to investigate. As they search the area, they are summarily dispatched by Walker, a silent, efficient, lethal killing machine. Unfortunately, Watson never duplicates the suspense of this scene. And since Stisen is seen only in shadow and doesn’t speak, we don’t yet realize what a dreadful actor he is.
With bulging muscles, permanent scowl, and full beard, Stisen looks like a comic book character come to life. Physically, he’s right for the role, but when he’s required to deliver lines and express emotion other than icy determination, he’s laughable and undermines what there is of the story. His low, raspy voice is supposed to make him sound tough and unfazed by imminent danger, but his mumbles suggest that he could have used a few elocution lessons. Both Cheung and Okadigbo make the best of their roles and at least come across as human. Stisen’s performance is weak and unfocused. When the action kicks in, he’s in his element. At other times, he’s treading water.
There are so many better action pictures out there, there’s really no reason to seek out The Siege unless you enjoy movies that are so bad, they’re entertaining.
The Siege was captured by director of photography James Oldham digitally, likely finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Much of the film takes place in low light situations or at night. The night scenes retain enough detail for us to follow what is happening. The low light scenes have a mustard-yellow hue. Flashes from automatic weapons are visible, and the film doesn’t shy away from blood on a knife, on faces, and clothing, and spurting from heads. There are a few lens flares that don’t serve any dramatic purpose. The color palette is muted, with a minimum of primary tones.
The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. English SDH subtitles are an available option. Dialogue is mostly clear, but Daniel Stisen speaks with such a soft, gravelly voice that it’s often difficult to understand him. In an interesting spin on action movie music, early kills are accompanied by classical music contrasting with the violence. Graeme Revell’s score is typical for the genre, building tension in key dramatic scenes. Sound effects include lots of gun fire, grunts, bodies being pummeled, car engines, and an explosion.
Bonus materials on the R-rated, Region A release from Well Go USA Entertainment include the following:
- The Making of The Siege (21:04)
- Unwelcome (2:19)
- Sakra (2:15)
- Fist of the Condor (2:06)
- Trailer (1:49)
The Making of The Siege – Director Brad Watson notes that The Siege is an amalgam of all the action films he saw as a kid. Making the film was like dipping into his childhood. The kill ratio in the film is very high. The reassignment center is a place Walker doesn’t want to be, but has to be. Watson claims that the relationships among the three leads are developed and make the film interesting. Walker is shown as a kind of “avenging angel.” He’s a former soldier turned hit man—“a man with a dark soul.” He’s empty inside, has divorced himself from humanity and trained himself not to care. The two women coming into his life set the plot in motion. The actors speak about their roles in relation to the plot. Other crew members discuss their contributions, including the screenwriter, production designer, and fight coordinator. The fight scenes were designed to be different from one another. The film is described as a fun adventure with humor, action, and pathos, “a graphic novel on the screen.”
The Siege is not a film you’d seek out for its outstanding characters. It might be enough for those who love action and cleverly staged mayhem, but those looking for something deeper would do well to look elsewhere.
– Dennis Seuling