Black SplatFire Down Below (1997)

"If your daddy knew exactly how stupid you were, he'd trade you in for a pet monkey."

Fire Down Below - Steven Seagal as EPA agent Jack Taggert

Description: Steven Seagal as Agent Jack Taggert insults Orin Hanner, Jr. (Brad Hunt), the son of a corrupt businessman in the motion picture Fire Down Below (1997).

Jack Taggert is an EPA agent who has been sent to investigate suspected toxic waste dumping taking place in rural Kentucky. Taggart's friend, a fellow EPA agent Frank Elkins (John Diehl) has already been killed and so Taggart is determined to get to the bottom of the murder as well as the toxic dumping.

The EPA had recieved a letter from the town of Jackson, Kentucky claimng that toxic waste was being illegally dumped down abandoned coal mine shafts. Soil samples tested positive for pollution and so the EPA sends Frank Elkins and boss Phil Pratt to investigate. But both of them were later found dead when their truck plunged into a river. The Kentucky State Police rules their death as an accident, but the EPA is suspicious and sends Taggart to check things out.

Fire Down Below - Taggert's EPA credentials

Before Frank left on assignment, he told Jack, "I'm going to Kentucky to check on a case. When I'm back, we're gonna go hunting. Do some fishing. We'll get away from all this stuff." Jack replied, " I appreciate the friendship. Means a lot to me."

"I was told somebody's dumped some dangerous toxic waste down here. I wanted to see if I could come down and stop it." - Agent Jack Taggart

As Jack sets up operations,, he takes the cover of a member of the Appalachia Relief Mission, and boards in the basement of a church pastored by Reverend Bob Goodall who is Taggart's contact.

The Reverend introduces Jack as a carpenter and he begins to help folks out just for the love of god. At first, the people in the community are leary of Jack because he is a stranger, but after he repairs the roof on one home, and offers to build a porch for another he is slowly accepted. The man with the bad porch is Cotton Harry (Harry Dean Stanton), who ultimately reveals it was he who sent the letter to the EPA.

Fire Down Below - Sarah Kellogg and Jack Taggart

Jack develops a special relationship with a woman named Sarah Kellogg (Marg Helenberger), a beekeeper who sells her honey in town. Jack offers to repair her front porch steps and soon they become friends. One day, Jack purchases her whole consignment of honey to help her financially and when fire destroys Sarah's bee hives, Jack replaces them.

Sarah is shunned in town because the townsfolk believe she killed her father when she was younger. But, if you've met her brutal, incestuous brother Ear Kellogg (Stephen Lang) you learn quickly who is the monster and who is the angel in the family. Earl works for the Hanner Coal Company and helps dump toxic waste in the mines. Earl burned down the local church. The minister who had been helping Taggart died in the fire. Later, Earl dies in a mine explosion which he had rigged to kill Taggart, who escapes.

Fire Down Below - EPA agent Taggert defends himself

During a visit to a local lumber yard for more materials, Jack is surrounded by a group of thugs at the loading dock. Taggart tells them they don't intimidate him and he ain't leaving town. “And if you don’t like it," says Taggart. "Tough Shit!”

The thugs attack, but Taggart quickly lays waste to them using some stylish martial arts moves and a sturdy piece of 2x4 lumber. One of the men, Pimple (Scott L. Schwartz) tells Taggart, "I'm gonna have to educate you in how to properly beat the shit outta somebody." But Jack Taggart wins the battle and continues to snoop around to get the answers he needs to shut the illegal dumping down.

Fire Down Below - Jack rams gun in deputy's mouth

When Sheriff Lloyd (Ed Bruce) plays rough, Jack snatches the sheriff's gun from his holster, jams it in to the mouth of a deputy and warns the sheriff to cease and desist in his obstruction or he will have a hundred EPA agents invade the region.

The sheriff backs off, but Orin Hanner, Jr. who is behind the toxic waste dumping continues to interfere with Taggart's investigation. When he meets Taggart, Junior informs the EPA agent, "You've been hanging out with the ignorant folks, we're the educated ones." But educated or not, Taggart is out to solve his case no matter how smart Hanner Jr. claims to be.

Now Orin Hanner. Sr. on the other hand, knows his son is inept. When Hanner Jr. asks permission to take Taggart out (kill), his daddy answers, "Son, you couldn't take out a cheeseburger from a drive-through."

Hanner Sr. tries to bribe Taggart ("I have a lot of money. I'll give you some to go away.") but Taggart's duty is to his murdered friends and his country. Since Taggart refuses the bride, Hanner Sr., concludes, "So, I guess that makes killing you free." With a wry smile, Jack replies "Well, it would be free if you could."

When Hanner Sr. informs Taggart, "You are violating my constitutional rights. Taggart replies, "I will show you a new meaning to the word "violation".

Fire Down Below - Orin Hanner, Sr. and Jack Taggart

In the end, tough-as-nails Jack Taggert survives all the attempts on his life (rattlesnacks, run off the road, buried in a mine) and gets wimpy Orin Jr. to turn state's evidence, implicating his father on racketeering, conspiracy, and murder charges.

Happily, Taggart goes to arrest Orin Sr. but to avoid Federal Prison, Orin Sr. pulls a gun, hoping to be killed, but Jack shoots him in the shoulder and has him hauled away. With his duty done, Jack returns to Jackson where he is reunited with Sarah.

Earlier, Orin Hanner Sr. said, "Doesn't this guy know the rules? I'm the rules." But as Taggart reminded him, "Let's face it, I don't believe in authority."

Fire Down Below - Movie Poster

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