It's a tribute to Steven Seagal's cinematic status that eager viewers might expect Belly Of The Beast to be a biopic of the ballooning action hero. Yet while it doesn't trace his glorious rise from star bodyguard to guarded star body, this straight-to-retail classic cleverly recapitulates the thematic concerns that have dominated Seagal's films from Under Siege to Exit Wounds: homophobia, mysticism and misogyny.
Boldly varying the mise en scene, director Ching Siu-Tung abandons the ghetto/unspoilt wilderness environment of Seagal's standard actioners in favour of a flavourful Thailand. But stylistically he remains Seagalistic, showing an almost deliberate disregard for tiresome cinema conventions such as continuity while emphasising his star's everyman nature with frequent use of body doubles. The archetypal kidnap-rescue plot, meanwhile, allows for essential strip-club scenes.
Some action sequences show a slickness Seagal purists may baulk at, but it's the only wobble on a Belly we insist you scratch.