Down Below

Fire Down Below (1997 film)

Fire Down Below is a 1997 cult action film directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá. It stars Steven Seagal as an EPA agent who investigates a Kentucky mine and helps locals stand up for their rights. The film co-stars Marg Helgenberger, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Dean Stanton and Stephen Lang. It includes cameos by country music performers Randy Travis, Mark Collie, Ed Bruce, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt, and Country-Rocker and member of The Band Levon Helm.

Seagal's production involvement (The Patriot, On Deadly Ground) is detectable in the Aikido-inspired fight sequences, general overcompetance of Seagal's character versus antagonists, and repeated references to male on male sexual assault.


In the peaceful Appalachian hills of eastern Kentucky, toxins are being dumped into abandoned mines, causing environmental havoc, but the locals, mindful of their jobs and the power of the mine owners, can do nothing. Environmental Protection Agency CID agent Jack Taggart is sent to investigate, after a fellow agent is found dead, probably not by accident. The EPA has received an anonymous letter from the town of Jackson, Kentucky, and Taggart goes there undercover to continue his colleague's investigations.

It is discovered that Hanner Coal Company, owned by Orin Hanner Sr., is being paid to dump toxic waste into an abandoned coal mine shaft, so Jack is assigned to go to the small town of Jackson, where his cover is that of assistant and volunteer carpenter to a local church. He stays in a room in the church's basement, and begins his cover work by repairing the roof at a house where one of the children is sick because of the pollution. As a newcomer to the small local community, Taggart is threatened by Hanner's son Orin, Jr. (played by Brad Hunt) - the incompetent local tool of the company -, and the corrupt local Sheriff (played by Ed Bruce).

Taggart exposes the corruption and pollution and survives an attempt to kill him in an underground explosion, but still the locals are afraid to do anything to help. But when the mine owner has the church set on fire, Taggart's limit is reached, and the oppressors are taken down.

The film proved to be yet another financial failure and only grossed 6 million on its opening weekend . Although this is described as being more successful than On Deadly Ground, another one of Seagal's environmental efforts, it acually did not perform as well at the box office. The filmed grossed $16,228,448 in the USA)


The closing credits has the song 'Paradise' (lyrics here) by John Prine which implies the long-term impacts of coal mining on rural areas including health hazards.

The movie was filmed on location in and around Kentucky. Parts of the "truck chase scene" were shot at Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Some of the opening scenes were filmed at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.

The movie is set in the town of Jackson, which is in Breathitt County. However, when Seagal's character finds the newspaper article describing the acquittal of Helgenberger's character for the murder of her father, the article sets the location as Jenkins, which is in Letcher County, more than 75 miles away.

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