October 04, 2008

Stereotypes in On Deadly Ground

On Deadly GroundOn Deadly Ground is a 1994 environmental action-adventure film, co-produced, directed by and starring Steven Seagal. ... Steven Seagal plays Forrest Taft, a specialist in dealing with oil drilling-related fires.Taft opposes the "super-rig/refinery" Aegis 1but realizes too late that it's a trap set up for him in a bomb-rigged building. Although he is badly wounded in the explosion and blown 1,000 feet in the air, Taft survives and is rescued by Masu (Joan Chen) who's the daughter of Silook, the chief of her tribe.

After unsuccessfully trying to leave with a dogsled, Silook has Taft undergo a vision quest in which he sees the truth. When made to choose between two women, Seagal opts for the elderly, clothed grandmother, forgoing the erotically-charged nude Eskimo seductress. The grandmother warns Taft that time is running out for those who pollute the world and charges him to teach them that lesson. To make a point, she has Taft place his hand into water, the instant he does, the water changes to oil.
Some criticisms:Reviewer Michael Dequina of RottenTomatoes.com called it "a vanity project in the strongest sense of the term, this film has it all: bad acting, bad writing, bad direction, bad action sequences."

Upon release, On Deadly Ground met with generally poor critical reviews, largely because of perceived stereotyping of Native Americans and their spiritual beliefs. It earned $38.6M during its theatrical run.

Some film critics characterized the film as rehash of Billy Jack.
Comment:  A Chinese Eskimo, a vision quest, a nude seductress, and Christ-like Native magic...hmm.

I haven't seen On Deadly Ground and I don't intend to. I try to avoid bad movies even if they have Natives in them.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

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