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Steven Seagal plays a nature boy

Steven Seagal plays a nature boy

OUT OF REACH is a Steven Seagal actioner released directly to video. Based on a Seagal forum ("For the fans, by the fans"), it appears this film was universally panned. Seagal is a brooding ex-CIA agent turned wildlife preservation man whose main companion appears to be a pen pal from eastern Europe. Her letters stop, and our hero is off to save the day against unconscientious Turks. A trailer may be viewed here.

The following was written by Mehmet Basoglu, for an in-class presentation reviewing films (using Edward Said's Orientalist theory) in a mandatory course for Middle Eastern studies majors at Rutgers University.



Steven Seagal in OUT OF REACH-- cover art

Steven Seagal in OUT OF REACH


Directed by Po Chih Leong: British born of Hong Kong descent
Written by Trevor Miller: British
2004 released: Joint British-Polish Production


Former American intelligence agent William Lansing (Steven Seagal) discovers that his outreach program child, a Polish orphan named Irina, falls prey to a human trafficking ring run by an organized crime group affiliated with the Turkish embassy in Warsaw. Lansing treks to Poland to save Irina and other children while dealing with American intelligence officials who want to keep him out of an unauthorized case (especially due to his reckless past). Thanks to the trail of codes left by Irina (taught by Lansing) and the help of a Polish fed, Lansing saves the orphans and foils the plans of the embassy criminals; killing all of the bad guys in the process.



Polish actress Agnieszka Wagner is the local fed our hero teams up with

Polish actress Agnieszka Wagner is the local cop our
hero teams up with.

 This film displays a modern form of European Orientalism, specific to the image of Turkey. This is especially significant since the film’s production date coincides with issues of human rights tangled up with the Turkish government as Turkey attempts to meet European Union standards.

The Turks represent corrupt Oriental bureaucrats attempting to be Western. This coincides with European attitudes of Turkey exhibiting a poor imitation of European modeled democracies. The embassy ball reflects this. The Turkish embassy holds a ball, which hosts a slew of foreign dignitaries in classy fashion. The Turks try to present an image of high-class modernity by playing Western classical music in a highly elaborate setting. However, the hidden scene behind the ball exposes a kidnapped child as a part of a Turkish crime ring. Thus, the Turks attempt to pass as Western elites, but are hindered by their corrupt Oriental ways. Faysal embodies this image.

Agnieszka Wagner gets drink poured down her throat by hero Stevan Seagal in OUT OF REACH

She gets shot and Seagal tries to ease her pain.  

Another aspect of this image is the inherent brutality and untrustworthy traits of all the Turkish characters. Faysal and the Turks cross their non-Turkish accomplices on two occasions (once the leader of the orphanage and again when they kill their United Alliance of Nations contact, Weiss). Faysal and others even lack the ability to treat each other fairly, and continually act in underhanded ways. The only Turkish female character is a prostitute who Lansing pays off to cross the Turks.

Seagal's co-star in OUT OF REACH falls for him

Is it acceptable to get a woman drunk in Poland,
in order to get her to be your love interest?

 The inherent brutality is shown in Faysal’s actions. The Turks do not hesitate to kill children, drug children, or anyone else regardless of the situation. As all brutal villains in action-movies, the Turks are dehumanized throughout the fighting scenes. The only characters who are killed on screen are Turks, with the exception of Lansing’s African-American intelligence agent adversary.

Seagal’s character, in opposition to Faysal, represents someone who is fighting for the downtrodden. He saves wounded animals and fights for enslaved child orphans. Faysal and his buddies prey on the weak. This also adheres to the common European belief that Turkey is intolerant toward its own downtrodden minority groups (historically Armenians, Kurds and Alevis present-day).

The film also tackles the very real issues of human trafficking, which directly affects Eastern Europe. It’s no coincidence that the film took place in Poland. Eastern European girls are victims of gigantic sex rings throughout the world. A common European stereotype is that Turks run organized crime in Europe. Many Eastern European prostitutes who are victims of international sex slavery are also in Turkey. The film reinforces the Turkish crime ring stereotype.

Faisal (Matt Schulze) crosses swords with our hero

Faisal (Matt Schulze) crosses swords with our hero in
the climactic battle; one of his reported lines:
"Pain is your friend. Learn to love pain and it will
set you free." He's bad! (And unusually blond.)

Another important aspect of this film’s Orientalism is the development of the Turks as the other. All throughout the film, Turkish emblems, names, and decorations let the audience understand that Lansing is dealing with a foreign enemy. Whenever the Turks show up, the background music turns into loud Oriental music. The Turkish flag is shown in every part of the movie from the beginning on lighters until the very end on buildings and other objects. Other scenes show a Turkish waiter dressed with a fez at a local restaurant, Oriental rugs and design hanging in the background, as well as greetings between Turks of “Selam-Aleykum” to remind the audience of the Islamic character of the villains.

Faysal and his cohorts also touch up on old stereotypes of Oriental grandeur. The corrupt bureaucrats live it up in an embassy that resembles a palace while living life as lavishly as possible. Much like old Orientalism, the Oriental characters achieve this grandeur through their brutal ways. They embark on illegal and immoral actions to sustain their way of life.


Notable Moments


-Seagal walks through the forest and saves a wounded bird. The scene commences with his letter to Irina. He also teaches Irina how to decipher and implement zodiac codes.

This may be the pen pal Irena (Ida Nowakowska)

Pen pal Irena (Ida Nowakowska), with Azimi

-Turks show up at the orphanage. Strange Oriental music and a Turkish lighter accompany them.

-Turks eye potential sex-slaves.

-Seagal at a post office, speaks French, displays his worldliness.

-Turks arrive again at the orphanage with strange Oriental music. They get the children from the compliant orphanage director and start taking photographs of the children.

-After reaching a compound, some of the orphans try to escape.

-Faysal burns a red rose before killing the orphanage director (murder not shown) after they find out Lansing visited the orphanage.

Waiter in Turkish restaurant wearing a fez..

-Turks hunt Lansing down in his hotel. He beats them up and drops one off the ledge. This is the first death shown on screen. This is the first death of the expendable brutal Turkish villains.

-Faysal meets boss Mr. Elgin. They discuss possibilities of the new business.

-Lansing cracks a computer code at an Interpol like agency.

-Faysal duels at the embassy with his buddy Ibo. He wounds Ibo and shows no regard for his friend’s pain.

-Investigators find the body of the young girl who tried to escape the Turks.

-Lansing talks to a Polish kid who knows Irina. The child gives him the Turkish lighter. Lansing makes an analogy between the Turkish military and gangsters. He finally understands whom he’s dealing with.

-Faysal meets Turkish diplomats at the embassy and says “Selam Aleykum.” The diplomats ok his activities.

-Lansing talks with the Polish investigator while mentioning the Turkish diplomatic connections of the criminals.

-Faysal meets an American intelligence officer at the embassy. The intelligence officer makes a comment identifying himself as Western and Turks as Eastern.

-Faysal drugs Irina during chess before the embassy ball.

-Lansing and the Polish child scope out the Turkish embassy.

-The embassy ball comes up. It is adorned with Turkish flags so the audience can identify the villains.

-Irina makes a code out of the food that is being catered to guests of the embassy.

Steven Seagal and gun

Now that it's harder to use limbs to karate-
chop, Seagal puts the fire back in firearm.

-Faysal treats Azimi brutally after Azimi asks why he has to baby-sit Irina during the ball.

-Turkish flags wave in the background as Lansing escapes villains at the embassy.

-Lansing meets and sets up a deal with a Turkish prostitute at a Polish brothel.

-Ibo is eating at a Turkish restaurant. He displays moral weakness and immediately approaches the prostitute who Lansing uses to find information.

-Faysal meets with Ibo and the Black intelligence agent. He jokes around about murdering a prostitute and spits at his friends.

The Turkish hooker sets Ibo up

-Turks and Lansing’s American adversary visit the brothel looking for Lansing. A shootout ensues. A Turkish villain watches a grenade explode in front of him as the more intelligent African-American agent escapes to die later on in a shootout with Lansing. The Turks also act dishonorably by attacking the female agent who’s in a vulnerable position.

-Faysal harasses Irina at the embassy.

-Faysal and Lansing fight to the death. Faysal displays dishonorable traits during the fighting sequence. Lansing gloriously defeats Faysal: killing the last of the evil Turks.

-The film ends. Irina narrates and mentions Lansing’s obsession with saving wounded animals.



 Holdwater here. I haven't seen this film, but did a little reading. It should be fun to discover how Seagal's character determined that his pen pal was kidnapped, and how he managed to find her in a totally foreign country. (Yes, I know he has espionage skills. And yet...)

Mesut Yilmaz

Mesut Yilmaz is Azimi

There is one Turkish actor in the cast, Murat Yilmaz, playing the role of Azimi, a henchman of Faisal's. It seems he was raised in Germany and is also a black belt; appearing in an American production and a Seagal film must have been irresistible.

 Most reviewers were almost cruel in knocking OUT OF REACH. Of course, aging action heroes are always ripe for the picking. Some have commented on the oddity of a voiceover where Seagal's voice was clearly dubbed by someone else.

Interestingly, in not one review did the word "Turk" appear. Perhaps the filmmakers avoided the word, and viewers only took the villains to be your generic Muslim Monkey Men. The trailer, however, prominently features Turkish flags in front of what must be the embassy (adding to what our article says: "The Turkish flag is shown in every part of the movie from the beginning on lighters until the very end on buildings and other objects"); there is no question as to the identity of the bad guys.


A-ha! This Turkish flag could be a clue.

ADDENDUM, 12-06: Saw the film. A point in favor is that at least a couple of the Turkish characters were allowed to speak unaccented (or slightly accented) English, bringing them a step closer to "normalcy." (The embassy rep, or official "agent of the Turkish government," by contrast, had the normal heavy accent, accompanying his shadowy and sinister self.) However, no secret is made of the villains being Turkish. For example, our hero says it flat out in the photo at right, as he holds up the Turkish lighter. CLICK ON PIC (or here) to listen.

It's really shameful that even in the recent times we live in, movie producers still feel they have such carte blanche with following the age-old "Turks are bad" rule.






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