Casey Ryback (Seagal) is a valued cook on the USS Missouri, which is undergoing one last party in Pearl Harbor before it goes to San Francisco to be decommissioned. The captain of the ship wanted Seagal to show up in his dress whites with full decorations, but he refused; he eventually said that the captain's birthday was tomorrow and he needed to make bouillabaisse for it, which lets him off the hook.
The captain's birthday is coming, and a surprise party is arranged. Food will be flown in, and so the pesky cook has to be Locked in a Freezer — though not before the bouillabaisse is spat on and he attempts bodily harm on Commander Krill (Gary Busey), the XO making the plans. He is guarded by someone on orders not to let him out or listen to him. He isn't let out....
Anyhow, this is an elaborate surprise party. There is a band featuring Tommy Lee Jones and a cake containing Miss July. Everyone is allowed off shift — though the captain didn't want that. And there's a clown car's worth of mercenaries ready to take over the ship once everyone's had enough champagne. That's right — a hijacking!
The captain and operations officer are killed; most of the rest of the crew is locked into the forecastle, and a few other sailors get locked in the engine room. The hijackers now have control of a ship with nukes on it. It occurs to them that the kitchen, where our cook is, is not blocked off from the weapons room, so they send two men in to finish off the pesky cook....
Of course, the pesky cook kills them first, and leaves a bomb in a microwave when he finally escapes. He sneaks up to the captain's room, finds him dead, and finds the cake with Miss July in it, unopened. She's alive, but she's missed everything. She's also a self-proclaimed pacifist and never handled a gun....
The XO then finds the cook's service record, which had been locked in the Captain's "eyes only" safe. When they do find it, they learn that he was a Navy SEAL, one of the best ever, who, after a mission in Panama went wrong, lost all his ranks, leaving him only qualified to be a yeoman — or a cook. Unfortunately for them, he still has the skills of a SEAL....
They try to stick to the plan anyway — the plan being to transfer the nukes to a sub that the CIA thought had been destroyed by mercenaries. The leader of the mercenaries in question is the band leader helping with the hijacking.
Good triumphs eventually, but it triumphs messily.
It has a sequel, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995).
Tropes that appear in the film series:
- Action Girl: Jordan starts off as a quivering mess but evolves into this trope.
- Almighty Janitor:
- A US Navy Ship hijacking is almost single-handedly thwarted by... said ship's cook. Well, he used to be a Navy SEAL, but still.
- Midway through the film, Ryback is aided by a small group of sailors who had been assigned to mundane tasks before the takeover (such as running ships laundry service) and had minimal combat training. They take out Krill and his sub with no effort.
- Ammunition Conservation: When Jordan makes it clear she's staying with Ryback rather than hiding out and hoping she's not found by the terrorists, Ryback arms her with an MP5. As she's a civilian and a novice, Ryback informs her that he's going to put it into semi-auto select-fire, wanting her to focus on one shot at a time and making them count rather than possible blind, panic fire.
- Arc Words: Welcome to the revolution!
- Artistic License Engineering: The microwave oven that Ryback used to booby-trap the kitchen has a rotary dial rather than a digital display, meaning it wouldn't beep like it did and warn Strannix of an imminent explosion.note
- Artistic License Military: When the Missouri stopped in Honolulu, all the projectiles for the 16" artillery as well as any other armor-piercing rounds were offloaded; while Ryback and company are trying to sink the submarine, they acknowledge this, discussing how the only ammunition they still have aboard are 5" starburst rounds. However, when they are shown loading the guns and preparing to fire, it's clear that both the powder bags and projectiles used are for the 16" guns.Krill: Those are just five-inch starbursts. They don't have any shells that can hurt us.
- Artistic License Ships: In various scenes is perfectly clear, that ship is actually the USS Alabama standing-in for the Missouri, with its shorter hull and single stack. Radars on artillery directors is older model too. Also, on Iowa-class battleships the pilot house is located inside an armored conning tower; what appears as (and depicted in movie) a control room is just an enclosed gallery around said conning tower.
- Ax-Crazy: Krill is not exactly the most stable guy around, which even the captain had noted long before he is inevitably murdered.
- Strannix too, but not half as much as Krill. He at least tries to be professional for most of the film.
- Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: As Doumer is about to shoot Chief Ryback, several shots ring out and Daumer falls to the deck dead. Behind him is standing Jordan Tate, Ryback's Love Interest, with a gun in her hands.
- Berserk Button: It's not really a good idea to spit in Ryback's soup. He takes it kind of personally.
- BFG: The 16" guns of the Missouri. We get to see them fired twice, both at the submarine as it's moving off from the Missouri. First one misses but the shot blows Tommy Lee Jones off his feet and bursts his ear drums. The second one fired gives Gary Busey's character an Oh, Crap! moment before the submarine he's on is hit and sunk by the Missouri's 16" shell.
- Big Bad: Strannix, who hijacks the Missouri with the intent of selling its nuclear warheads.
- Big Good: Admiral Bates is presented as this in both films. He's of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and takes control of HQ for the good guys. In the first film, he's already there, and in the second he is the first senior person of authority called.
- Blatant Lies: The person who is on the USS Missouri's radio responding to the F/A-18 before they shoot him down with the CIWS minigun.F/A-18 Pilot: Sting 1 to Missouri, are you tracking me?USS Missouri radio operator: Uh... Negative.
- Bond One-Liner: "Keep the faith, Strannix."
- Brick Joke: Jordan Tate has a rule about killing. Actually, she has two rules: One, she does not date musicians, and Two, SHE DOES NOT KILL PEOPLE. Later, though, she saves Ryback's bacon with a Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind.Ryback: Next thing I know, you'll be dating musicians.
- Bring It: Strannix to Chief Ryback during their knife fight.
- Bullying the Dragon: Krill is constantly making trouble for Ryback, which proves to be a foolish mistake on his part when he learns only after the killing has started that Ryback is indeed a professional killing machine as Strannix suspected.
- The Cameo: Kane Hodder as a mook that Ryback beats up.
- Captain Obvious: Admiral Bates declaring "We gotta lot of trouble on that ship" when he's just finished talking with Ryback in the middle of a heated gunfight is certainly redundant.
- Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the movie we see Ryback showing off his skills with a throwing knife, which is left stuck in a target. Later, when the ship has been taken over and Ryback has to escape from the kitchen, he uses that same knife to silently dispose of a mook. And later on, when Strannix and his henchmen find the bodies in the kitchen, this knife gives Strannix the first sign that the cook may be more threatening than they thought, prompting him to search Ryback's files.
- Chef of Iron: And how! Seagal's character is obviously not to be messed with.
- The Chosen Zero: Ryback is a hilarious subversion. He's just the ship's cook, and very honest about it... but he used to be one of the greatest SEALs the Navy had ever seen.
- CIA Evil, FBI Good: While not the FBI, the dichotomy between CIA and Navy staff when handling the crisis of each movie plays out the same. CIA liaisons are always presented as self serving, irresponsible, short sighted, and responsible for the creation of the villains, and the Navy as as an exasperated Reasonable Authority Figure that has to clean up after them with the help of Ryback.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Combined with Bait-and-Switch Gunshot when Jordan saves Ryback from Doumer.
- Creepy Crossdresser: At the Captain's birthday party, Krill comes into the party in drag, much to the surprise of his crewmates. Turns out he's in on the hijacking.
- Cut Himself Shaving: Commander Krill says he cut himself shaving as an explanation for Ryback slashing his face. It was a better story than saying that he put Ryback in the kitchen storage.
- Cutlass Between the Teeth: Ryback disarms Strannix during their fight by using his teeth to pull the knife out of his hand.
- Da Chief: Averted by Admiral Bates in the first film. Upon finding out that Ryback has ignored his orders to avoid contact if possible and is busy trying to kill all the terrorists himself, the Admiral's response is thus:Chief Ryback: I'm sorry, sir, you can court-martial me if I live, sir!Admiral Bates: All right, Chief... you are hereby authorized to do whatever is necessary to regain control of that vessel. Because if I can't control you, I might as well at least support you!
- Darkened Building Shootout: More like Darkened Ship Interior shootout, but the same principle applies.
- Didn't See That Coming: The reaction of the bad guys when they discover the cook just happens to be a highly trained and decorated SEAL. Krill even lampshades it with "how little did I know."
- "Die Hard" on an X
- First movie: Boat!
- Second movie: Train!
- Distracted by the Sexy: Averted during a memorable sequence in which Jordan bursts out of a cake, topless, wearing a naval officer's coat and a thong. Although Ryback's attention is diverted, he's still in control of the situation and quickly takes charge.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Casey claims he doesn't like guns and so does Jordan, but both end up using firearms. Casey is generally more at home using knives.
- The Dragon: Krill in the first film, being Strannix's inside man and deputy across the operation.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Implied in both films, with Krill in the first and Penn in the second successfully intimidating their employers with threats when the operation is threatening to fall behind schedule.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: A lot of good sailors die, but the heroes win and avert a national disaster. The film closes on the captain's funeral, but it's a triumphant scene as Ryback is in full uniform, restored to his full rank.
- Everyone Knows Morse: In the first movie, Ryback is able to rescue a group of survivors trapped behind a welded-shut hatch who just happened to be broadcasting Morse code as he was nearby. Somewhat justified in that the people involved are all professional sailors.
- Evil Is Hammy: Tommy Lee Jones (Strannix) and Gary Busey (Krill) look like they're having an absolute blast in the first movie. Jones in particular is complete over the top villainous awesome.
- Eye Scream: Ryback gouges out Strannix's eye before killing him off.
- Faux Affably Evil: Strannix is very much this, before his Villainous Breakdown.Strannix: [looking at the carnage Ryback has left behind] Daumer, Daumer, Daumer... why didn't you hire this person? I don't know what his price would have been but it would have been worth it.
- Finger in the Mail: Strannix recounts a tale of how he sent his CIA superior the fingers of two assassins who were sent to kill him.
- Foreshadowing: Captain Adams to Ryback: "You know, if I had your ribbons, I'd wear 'em to bed," hinting that there's much more than meets the eye here (as if his being the main character didn't already).
- And we see at the end that Ryback's broad chest is indeed laden with decorations.
- When the TV news commentator is talking about how the Missouri is on its last cruise to San Francisco for decommissioning, he remarks that "her awesome weaponry will be removed and dismantled, probably never to be fired again." By the end of the film, just about all of her major weapons systems (20mm CIWS, 5" and 16" guns, and Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles) have been fired at least once.
- Gatling Good: The Phalanx CIWS, consisting of a series of radar-controlled, 20mm M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. Used to shoot down the F-18 sent to reconnoiter the Missouri.
- Gender-Blender Name: Steven Seagal's character is named.... Casey Ryback.
- Hidden Depths: Jordan turns out to have more guts than most of the crew.
- Impromptu Tracheotomy: An unfortunate terrorist suffers this fate when Casey pulls out a chunk of his throat with his bare hands. We later see Casey throw the small chunk of flesh he removed from his victim's throat aside.
- Invincible Hero: A common complaint for the films is that, unlike Bruce Willis in Die Hard, Seagal's Ryback disposes of everyone — mooks, The Dragon, the Big Bad — without breaking a sweat or losing the cool facade, which tends to suck out some of the potential drama or excitement.
- The crazy thing is that it's significantly toned down from Seagal's usual characters. Ryback is far less respected than the standard Seagal protagonist, he gets injured twice, has to be saved by the Action Girl at one point, and needs the help of a small band of escaped sailors to save the day.
- I Resemble That Remark!: As Commander Krill reads through his now-dead superior's report on him, he notices that he pegged Krill for being psychologically unstable. Krill, in drag, asks Strannix if he looks like he needs psychological help.Strannix: Not at all.
- Jumping Out of a Cake: Jordan at the beginning.
- Karmic Death: If you think about it, Commander Krill being blown to kingdom come by the guns of the ship whose crew he betrayed can be considered this.
- Kinda Busy Here: Casey Ryback is shooting it out with the hijackers when he gets a call from Admiral Bates, and his female sidekick answers.Admiral Bates: I'm trying to get ahold of Ryback.Jordan Tate: He's in a gunfight. I'll have to take a message.
- Klingon Promotion: Invoked by Commander Krill. Once he has The Captain taken out, he starts wearing his rank markings once the ship's hijacking has been completed. It's put down to his Limited Advancement Opportunities, so he's shown to be hugely upset that he is unlikely to actually become a Captain legitimately.
- Knife Fight: The climax has a knife fight between Strannix and Ryback, which quickly turns into a Curb-Stomp Battle, with Strannix only getting one lucky scratch, before Ryback gouges his eye out with his bare hand, before stabbing him through the head and smashing his head through a piece of equipment, electrocuting him. And that's after owning him in the knife fight.
- The Load: Jordan, although she shows Action Girl potential in the last 20 minutes of the film. She's also pretty clever. He tells her to stay back "where it's safe". Her reply: "The safest place on this ship is right behind you!"
- Locked Out of the Loop: Invoked by Krill when Strannix demands to know how he had no idea the cook was a former SEAL. Krill states that Ryback's file wasn't in the main records but in the captain's personal safe which Krill didn't have access to and thus, like everyone else, he thought Ryback was just a simple cook.
- MacGyvering: Ryback improvises explosives and other tools using a combination of everyday objects like paint thinner and military implements like gunpowder from a grenade.
- Microwave Misuse: A non-humorous example. Ryback wants to prepare a warm welcome for the terrorists who have taken over the battleship, so he puts a can containing combustible material inside a microwave and turns it on. When the terrorists arrive in the kitchen, the can inside the microwave explodes.
- The Mole: Krill, within the ship, until the takeover starts.
- Motive Misidentification: The Pentagon thinks Strannix has gone insane and is planning to just launch the ship's missiles at random thanks to his act. It takes Ryback's phone call for them to realize Strannix is quite sane and is planning to steal and sell the nuclear arsenal on the black market.
- Ms. Fanservice: We are introduced to Jordan when she jumps out of a cake in a thong and naval officer's coat which she quickly strips off to reveal her breasts shamelessly.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Unless you want Ryback to take it from you and shove it into your skull.
- Noodle Incident: How and when Ryback and Strannix met previously.
- Not So Different: Flipped around, from Seagal's protagonist to Jones' antagonist.Ryback: We're the same, you and I.
- A Nuclear Error
- Averted when it's stated that hitting nukes with high explosives won't set them off.
- Played straight when a self-destruct code transmitted to a cruise missile in flight causes it to blow up.
- It should be noted, that the nuke didn't go nuclear, it just detonated its self destruct and fell from the sky.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Strannix uses this when dealing with the brass monitoring the hijacking to misdirect them from his true motives.
- Oh, Crap!: Seal Team 5 when faced with a heatseeker-wielding mook aiming at their helicopter. Ryback and his gang watching the same scene from too far away to assist.
Doumer: Goddamn cook's a SEAL!?
- Also a couple of Strannix's men when they realize Ryback is a former SEAL.
- Krill's face is priceless when he realizes the last shell fired from the Missouri is going to hit the submarine he's in.
- As Ryback and his crew are celebrating and watching the submarine burn, their grins and laughter are instantly replaced with looks of horror when a pair of Tomahawks blast off of their launchers.
- Our Presidents Are Different: Subverted in that the real president at the time, George H. W. Bush, is shown sending the ship off before its final voyage, even if he's not involved in the bulk of the movie.
- Overranked Soldier: Commander Krill is a mix of type IVV, harassing and provoking crew members he doesn't like for no real reason, often in ways that blatantly violate Navy regulations. To be fair, Captain Adams had noticed his XO's instability, and after the terrorists take the Missouri, they find he had prepared a performance review for Krill that would have torpedoed Krill's career had Adams lived to reach San Francisco and file it.
- Performer Guise: Some of the terrorists infiltrating the Missouri dress up and perform as musicians during a party for the ship's captain.
- Pineapple Surprise: A variant. Ryback twice uses grenades with the pin removed but the lever wedged under something to use grenades as traps.
- Point Defenseless: Averted when the CIWS easily takes out the F/A-18 on its recon mission. Justified when Tackman's and Ryback's sabotage cripples the Missouri's electronics before they can shoot down the SEAL team's choppers, then subverted when they get shot down anyway by a pair of missileers on the submarine armed with Stingers.
- Pretty Little Headshots: While there is some brutal violence, the headshots (most notably in the first film) are clean and leave small, relatively bloodless holes.
- Psycho Supporter: Krill is the crazier of the two in command of the takeover... at least up until he dies.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Ryback frees a handful of sailors who are instrumental in saving the day, but they don't quite reach Five-Man Band status.
- Rated M for Manly: Steven Seagal, firefights, explosions, hammy villains, Erika Eleniak's boobs...
- Real Men Can Cook: In addition to being a Navy SEAL, Casey is an excellent chef, and is only questioned by Krill.
- Truth in Television; Naval Special Warfare ratings didn't exist at the time, so enlisted SEALs retained whatever rating (Bosun's Mate, Radioman, Machinist's Mate, etc.) they had prior to completing BUD/S. This also meant they had to maintain at least some proficiency in their rating, as they still had to compete for promotion in that rating.note Ryback was busted back to being a cook because that's the job he had before he became a SEAL.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Ryback was a highly decorated navy SEAL until he lost his security clearance for punching his commanding officer after some of his team members were killed on a mission due to faulty intelligence. After this, he retrained to be a cook and was taken on the Missouri's captain so he could finish his navy career and retire honorably.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Admiral Bates in 1 and 2.Adm. Bates: [talking to Ryback on the radio, who is in a gunfight with the bad guys] I see you have disobeyed my orders.
Ryback: [fires his machine gun] I'm sorry, sir. You can court-martial me if I live, sir.
Adm. Bates: I see. Well, since your ass is on the line, Sailor, I authorize you right now to do whatever you can to save the crew and aid in the arrival of the SEAL team. Because if I Goddamn can't CONTROL you, I might as well SUPPORT you.
- Redshirt Army: The navy SEAL team sent to retake the ship is wiped out when their helicopter is shot down. Any other crewman trying to be a hero other than Ryback and his companions doesn't get to survive for long, either.
- Retirony: Captain Adams is at least implied to be on his final deployment when his XO murders him and takes over the ship.
- Sentry Gun: The Phalanx CIWS aboard the Missouri.
- Strannix and the submarine crew use names like "Roadrunner" and "Wile E. Coyote" as codenames, referencing the classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Guess which studio Under Siege is from.
- Strannix's ramblings about shrimp coming to save a lobster from 'the Swedish cook' are a reference to The Muppet Show.
- The War Room was designed to resemble the one from Dr. Strangelove.
- Spanner in the Works: The villains have carefully planned this entire thing out, prepared to take on everything from Navy reinforcements to rebellion among the crew... but never considered how the cook might just be the most capable warrior on the entire ship.
- Spiteful Spit: In his first scene, Krill shows his contempt towards Ryback by spitting in the bouillabaisse he was preparing. Ryback doesn't take it well and punches Krill right in the mug.
- Standard Evil Organization Squad:
- Stock Sound Effects: The booby-trapped microwave seems to make an elevator 'ding' sound right before it explodes.
- Stuff Blowing Up
- Taking You with Me: The terrorists plan to fire two Tomahawk missiles at Honolulu so as to destroy the military tracking station and cover their escape. When Krill dies and Strannix loses it, the latter knows his plan is already doomed, but he launches the Tomahawks anyway out of spite.
- Too Dumb to Live: The marine assigned to guard Ryback in the meat locker fails to recognize numerous warning signs the ship is under attack, despite Ryback pointing them out, until it's too late.
- Took a Level in Badass: Jordan Tate changes from The Load to an Action Girl when she pulls a Bait-and-Switch Gunshot to save Ryback's life.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Though the audience likely would have suspected (this is a Seagal movie, after all), the trailer revealed that Rybeck formerly served as a SEAL.
- Villainous Breakdown: Strannix goes completely insane after Krill is killed and his eardrums burst due to the enormous noise and muzzle blast from Missouri's 16" guns firing. He proceeds to launch two Tomahawk missiles at Honolulu while babbling about cartoon characters.
- Villainous Friendship: Strannix, Commander Krill, and Daumer all seem to have a fun time together.
- Villain Ball: Ruthlessly Averted. Prior to the Villainous Breakdown both Strannix and Krill refuse to pick up the ball, with the worst decisions being the incident where Krill provokes Rybeck and throws him in the meat locker (which is petty and stupid, but he had no way of knowing that this could impact his plan) and only sending a couple men to the kitchen at the start (which is understandable as they had no idea how dangerous Ryback was — and Krill did insist two guys weren't enough). After that, Strannix orders his men into roving patrols, reporting in regularly, to not pursue Ryback into unsecured areas, and to immediately call for backup should anything happen. The sub has backup anti-air weapons used to take out the SEAL Team, Krill smartly figures that putting the crew in danger will create a situation where they can take out Ryback, and they notice Ryback trying to sabotage the submarine.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Near the end of the movie, Strannix gets the drop on Ryback by sneaking up behind him, but doesn't shoot him because... reasons? It's clear the only reason for this is the director wanted a climactic knife fight between the two of them.