Into The Sun, is another gratuitously violent spy thriller from martial artist Steven Seagal. What small enjoyment that comes from this picture is derived from the depiction of Japanese culture, particularly underworld culture. But that alone isn’t enough to lift this film above any of the other similar films that Seagal has done in the last ten years.
The movie opens in a small village in the Myanmar Jungle, within the Golden Triangle. Life appears normal in the village. The women are cooking exotic dishes; the children are playing, riding elephants, and the men are in the fields picking poppies. Apart from the villagers themselves, the small community also plays host to a ragtag army of dealers and would be drug-barons. They spend their days smoking and cursing, whilst waving around their AK47’s. Watching all this, hidden in the jungle are Travis (Steven Seagal) and his partner. They are a C.I.A. surveillance team. As they watch, a young village girl ventures into the jungle to answer nature’s call. Two armed thugs follow her in and attempt to rape her.
Travis can’t just sit there and watch the violation happen, so he breaks cover and ventilates the attackers. The other drug dealers hear the shots and swarm into the jungle firing their weapons. Travis and his partner flee and make their way back to a pre-arranged extraction point, fighting a running battle as they go. The chopper touches down and picks them up. Just as it seems that they have made it to freedom a bullet hits Travis’s partner in the chest. The titles roll.
After a stylised title sequence, in Japan a diplomat is assassinated at the US embassy. The head of the CIA in Japan, Block (an out of character performance by William Atherton), calls in Travis to help out. They need Travis because they believe the Yakuza are involved. Even though Travis is American, he grew up on the streets of Tokyo, and is familiar with the local customs and traditions. Speaking of traditions, this film borrows one from Dirty Harry. Before Travis is allowed to go out on the streets and solve the crime, he is partnered with a rookie agent, Sean (Matthew Davis). You’ve seen it all before, so I won’t go into the dynamics between Travis and Sean, but suffice to say, they don’t get along.
After a bit of preliminary investigation, Travis finds out that many of the young Yakuza are working with the Chinese Tongs. The ringleader for this merger between the two rival underworld groups is Kuroda (Takao Osawa), a slightly unhinged gangster from the Tony Montana school (or Carmonte for you traditionalists).
The film starts off promising enough, but half way through the story flounders, and we are left waiting for the climax, between Kuroda and Travis. While we are waiting it gives Kuroda’s henchmen an opportunity to be violent and unpleasant to the other supporting characters. This is supposed to make us want to see Travis extract retribution, but in the end, seeing Travis stoop to gratuitously violent methods of revenge, makes him barely any better than the villains of the piece.
I don’t think there is much point in me slagging off this movie, after all it is a Steven Seagal film. People who choose to watch his films know what they are in for, and he delivers. But as a spy film it doesn’t really stack up. It is what it is – another B-grade action film.
This review in based on the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia DVD