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Oh dear! What can I say about Half Past Dead? I was really disappointed in
it. I was thinking....A Steven Seagal movie! Cool! We'll get to see him kick
people and flip people and break bones. We might even get to see him have a
stick fight with somebody! Excellent!
However, I was in for a rude awakening. This film can be summed up as follows:
Take an episode of the A-Team, remove the lovable and roguish characters such as Murdoch, Hannibal, Mr T and Face. Then get a writer/director to pen a plot even Ed Wood would be ashamed of and who's too big a fan of The Matrix and John Woo movies for his own good. Throw in a bunch of people with really bad acting ability and who don't have real names. Finally, add in a main star who's getting saggy around the midriff and doesn't appear to be able to do his own stunts anymore.
The result? Half Past Dead. An action movie so ridiculous that it at least made me smile right the way through. The plot holes are stupendously, glaringly large - for example, prisoners who, when the jail is invaded, fight the invaders rather than attempting to escape. Or how about the prison itself, which has an armoury that contains heavy machineguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers? You also have a helicopter (bearing a striking resemblance to a Huey) with some kind of video game machinegun mounted in the nose.
Then there's Seagal himself. I like the guy. He CAN fight. He's even witty in a way that Jean-Claude Van Damme will never be. But all through the movie I kept hoping for that one great, defining fight scene. Never happened. Instead we got people firing guns a lot and not hitting a whole Hell of a lot. I mean, when someone runs down a narrow corridor and you fire a sub-machinegun at them, there isn't a whole lot of places the bullets can go other than down the corridor and into the target. Yet somehow they miss? Even the A-Team would cringe at this foolishness. And then when it gets to any kind of one-on-one physical stuff, we get treated to a shabby Matrix rip-off, without the benefit of bullet-time. People getting kicked twenty feet through the air and sundry other ludicrous acrobatic nonsense.
C'mon Steven, you're better than this. Your career can't be over. Say it ain't so!
This is instantly forgettable (except I'm forcing myself to remember for the purposes of this review) and if you watch it, try to find it amusing in an A-Team kind of way. But I doubt it'll be high on anyone's "re-watchable" list. Out for Justice this ain't. More like Out to Lunch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have an honest question for all of my friends and other people who
had nothing but negative things to say about this flick. Actually, I
have several questions, but they all come down to one in the end: what
were you expecting this to be?
Seriously, think that one over. The movie is called Half Past Dead, for Christ's sake. Can anybody honestly say with a straight face that they expected this movie to be anything aside from utter crap?
It honestly doesn't even matter what the storyline or setup of this film happens to be. It makes no difference who the actors are, what they say, or what they do other than shooting at each other and yelling loudly. The dialogue could have been completely in Mandarin for all I care. People and things getting blown up are what I expect to see in a movie titled Half Past Dead, and damn if this movie doesn't deliver just that.
I don't remember much of this flick. I think it had something to do with Seagal and Ja Rule getting arrested for shoplifting at the Hobby Lobby and getting sent to Alcatraz Island. Then the guy from Boyz in the Hood (Morris Chestnut, definitely the high point of the movie) shows up with some goons and locks down the prison, Under Siege style. There's also a woman running around and beating up everybody who was probably meant to be hot, but ends up looking very masculine. That's a shame, because she looks gorgeous elsewhere.
Anyway, call together some friends and grab a few cases of your favorite beer, because this is a hilarious and action-packed flick that's perfect for a Friday night. Highly recommended.
Yeah, a long time ago it turned into a tourist attraction. Now it's a
prison again. Kind of. Well, it's more like an airport mixed together
with a junior high school but there are lots of guys running around
wearing orange jumpsuits, so I guess in that way it's like a prison.
Not really though. When Sasha, Steven Seagal's character, is being
admitted into prison, he's standing shackled in line and wanders over
to a different line so he can talk to his friend, like he's in line for
the security check at the airport. Then before too long he and his
friend are throwing punches, smacking around a couple of security
Let me tell you something. You assault a corrections officer in a federal prison, they'll shoot you on the spot. Ja Rule would have been shot about 30 times before he threw his second punch. Oh, and there are guys wearing beanies and bandanas and whatnot. In prison. Federal prison.
You can't dress like that at most high schools in America.
Speaking of Ja Rule, I have to say that the person who probably enjoyed his performance more than anyone else on earth, including Ja Rule himself, had to have been 50 Cent. Just before I watched this movie I saw one of those shows on TV about the greatest celebrity feuds ever, and like number 7 or 8 was this rivalry between 50 Cent, who had lived the thug life for real, and Ja Rule. Who had not. Every time I saw Ja Rule on screen the only thing I could picture was 50 Cent laughing his ass off. Ja Rule looks like a rowdy 9-year-old every time he appears on screen.
Anyway, getting back to the plot. It's funny. Sasha is an FBI agent working undercover and he agrees to let himself be sentenced to prison so he can get behind the criminal organization. He's sentenced to five years, and that old line between determination and stupidity instantly vanishes. Nothing else in the movie matters after that, it becomes a meaningless string of action sequences, most of which aren't even well choreographed.
Oh, how about this, a helicopter crashes through the roof of "New Alcatraz" at one point, accidentally freeing all of the inmates. And what do they do? They all run out of their cells and play basketball in the middle of the cell block. Without so much as a basket. They had a ball, but it doesn't matter. The scene is so stupid they might as well have been playing hopscotch.
So some guy is being sentenced to be the first person ever to be executed in Alcatraz's state of the art execution chamber, evidently not for stealing $200 million dollars in gold, but for not telling where it was hidden once he was caught.
Hey, good thinking, people. If you can't get information out of someone, kill them. That's a great way to learn the truth! So some gang breaks into the prison planning to stop the execution and get the location of the $200 million for themselves.
Oh and the $200 million is in gold bricks. I doubt they thought ahead to how difficult it would be to turn that into exchangeable currency.
There's also the issue of the warden at the prison. He's some tough-talking vato who thinks he's a hardcore chollo from the barrio, which reminds me of a joke. I saw this comedian once talking about people in California who talk all tough calling each other ese and homes and all kinds of other such nonsense. These people go to Mexico, the comedian says, and they're like, "Oh my god! People LIVE there? That's like, a total shack!"
The best is when the United States Supreme Court Justice arrives and this guy tells her that her men can't carry their guns inside his prison, "I don't care if she IS a United States Supreme Court Justice!"
This woman could squish him like a grape and he thinks he's in charge. Ha.
And by the way, the Supreme Court Justice that gets taken as a hostage in the movie tells the bad guy that she is 53. That's a year younger than Steven Seagal. I just thought that was funny.
The only good scene in the movie is the one in the prison where Ja Rule is getting slapped around the prison like a sack of cotton balls by this little Asian woman. That was the funniest thing I've seen in a movie in a long, long time.
You know, I work for the company that produced this film (which I why I watched it), and I still don't have a single positive thing to say about it, except, of course, for that one scene with Ja Rule getting spanked by that Asian woman.
So read my review of Malena and you will see how strongly I sometimes disagree with professional film critics like Roger Ebert, but in his review of this movie Ebert wrote something that I agreed with as much as anything else he's ever written:
"I imagine the flywheels at the MPAA congratulating each other on a good day's work as they rated 'Half Past Dead' PG-13, after giving the anti-gun movie 'Bowling for Columbine' an R."
Way to go, guys.
The best thing about the movie is the name, as it both describes the
plot and the acting. At least they cannot say they didn't warn you...
Kind of like the button labeled, "Don't push this".
Segal must have run out of things that move like planes, trains, and ships but the plot remains the same. Under cover guy who fights slowly, but still beats like 40 mercenary types and doesn't even blink when doing so. What amazes me is that Segal is now as big as a barn and the bad guys still cannot hit him in a hallway with a machine gun and 50 clips of ammo. Where do all these bullets actually go to? The only redeeming feature of this movie is watching Nia Peeples pound Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins doesn't quite sound so punk) into the floor. I could spend days watching that woman kick her foot over her shoulder like that... especially wearing an outfit like that! It was just a bonus watching Jeffy get is *ss kicked, and fun hoping one of those kicks actually landed. Sorry, it's just time we get stupid wannabe tough guy can't act rappers out of the movies. PLEEEEEASE! Who came up with idea anyway? I'd lay odds it was the person who decided that Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore would pass as witty athletic Angels.
The only surprising twist in this movie is that they don't do the politically correct thing and have Jeffy come in and save the day. No doubt if Snoop (otherwise known by his momma as Calvin Broadus which again doesn't sound so cool when you refer to him as Cal) had been in the movie, he'd throw some signs down on her and probably saved Segal's life or something.
Two rules to go by are: Movies made by Franchise Pictures, or distributed by
Screen Gems, are movies to avoid. This movie was made by Franchise Pictures
AND distributed by Screen Gems! Not only that, but it has Steven Seagal -
it's hard to believe that ten years or so ago he was doing so well. It's a
shock to see him here, with a puffy face (and torso) and his hair looking
lighter. Not surprisingly, his fight scenes are directed with quick cuts and
simple martial arts movies that even an amateur could pull off. He seems
very disinterested by what's happening, even a little out of it. He
shouldn't be surprised that it's his career that's half past
The director, Don Michael Paul, seems to have no ability to direct an action scene, martial art OR weapon-oriented. He uses annoying techniques like slow-motion or fast-motion to try and be "edgy", I guess. He also has problems telling a story, with some notable gaps that filled would have made some plot points more clear. He was working with a tight budget, which explains some things like numerous close-ups and somewhat impoverished sets. (Plus outdoor locations that clearly aren't in the United States, even though the movie is supposed to be taking place there.) Still, the movie moves along with nary a slow spot, and as problem-filled as it is, it's slicker and less annoying than Seagal movies like TICKER and THE FOREIGNER.
The story is a cool concept, but the choices for the acting's sake
weren't cool at all. Ja Rule was an ignorant cocky character but Seagul
was actual very likable. I felt as though this film doesn't get the
respect it deserves because Steven Seagul was in it. The dialogue was
mediocre, some parts though were really random though. The scene where
"Twitch" blows up the door seemed dumb. As well as the scene where
Steve and Morris fight in the chains. And did anyone else notice that
no one ever hit the bullets they shot? Anyway, the female who played
the Supreme Court Justice member was actually enjoyable to watch.
All in all, Half Past Dead is just mindless fun, pretty good.
For a man that is not feeling well, this was the perfect no brainer
film to help me conquer those sweats and chills. There was unrealistic
fighting, a Swiss cheese plot, and characters that we cared nothing
for, which allowed me to doze off and still know what was happening.
This was a Steven Seagal film, so I wasn't expecting much, but
honestly, after several of his film you come to realize that they are
all very similar and Seagal has not changed his fighting habits at all
over the years. He is still using the same fist moves that made him
popular in Above the Law. Why should he change? He is Steven Seagal.
So, take his old-school 1980s fighting techniques and combine it with a modern day rap artist like Ja-Rule (especially after his popularity with DMX in Exit Wounds), and you have the film Half Past Dead. So, let's begin. The fighting was laughable. I think that if a gust of wind hit Ja-Rule he would fly halfway across the room. Also, why did it become increasingly obvious that Ja-Rule was not doing his own fight sequences? Throughout his fighting with Nia Peeples, it is very clear that it is not Ja-Rule. How could a director allow such a blatant error happen in an action film? This is not the only case of action gone wrong. There are several scenes in which bullets defy their projected path and gravity. Also, let us not forget the flying fists of Seagal which had the sounds of some hard hits, but it was very obvious that he was mock fighting with most of the extras. This unrealistic fighting knocked this film from five stars to four stars.
So, let's move past the fighting. What is a good action film without the story to accompany the fighting? Sadly, director Don Michael Paul felt as if there was no story needed. Why bother the audience with a story when we have Ja-Rule and Steven Seagal fighting together on-screen? The plot was riddled with more holes that my high school underwear. It was as if we were not seeing the entire picture, and instead of showing us the director relied on words to tell us. Some examples of what I mean are how Sasha and Nick first met. I needed to see this. Without this story and seeing their trust be born, it became less emotional when it was broken. I didn't care, I needed to know more about them. The side-story about Seagal's wife was just filler. He has these visions of her that help him live after a gun battle, but that is all we know about her. When I first saw this scene, I thought it was going to be a major influence in the film. Sadly, I believe that was the last mention of the wife. The Prisoner's story with the gold was horrible. I didn't know enough about the guy to make me see the evil in his ways. This ultimately led to an unclimactic ending with this Prisoner. Does anyone really know who Morris Chestnut's character was? How did he get the money to finance this operation, and how did he become the inside man? I needed answers of which Don Michael Paul was not willing to provide. The lack of story and weakness of the main characters knocked this film from four stars to two.
Finally, I would like to comment on the title. What does it mean? Was it a reference to the time when Sasha almost died, or is it a reference to the lack of caring about life from Ja-Rule and the inmates (remember his line, 'Tonight is a good time to die'). I don't know. This led me to the ultimate conclusion about this film. The director just didn't care. He was happy to have Seagal and Ja-Rule signed on, so everything else became second fiddle. In the range of action films, this is pretty poor. Unrealistic fighting with an overabundance of clichéd lines only plummeted this film deeper into the world of action. To be brutally honest, Ja-Rule cannot act, and this became a problem in this film. He needed a smaller film to get his feet wet and see if he was ready for the cinema world. Half Past Dead was not the best role for him. This film is the perfect example of a movie made just to get rap artists some screen time and attempt to bring an overweight action start from the 80s into the new generation. Sadly, in Half Past Dead it didn't work.
Grade: * out of *****
Seeing is believing! It is highly recommended as a must see film. Half Past Dead was chewed up and spat out long before a soul went in to see it. Writer/Director Don Michael Paul did an excellent job directing his own words on the screen. It is a rarity to find exactly what was meant to be seen. Bravo DMP!!! You be your own critic.
Half Past Dead Oh Yes! It's actually called Half Past Dead! By the time i'd finished laughing at the title of this ridiculous Seagal movie it was nearly finished. Dutifully i rewound and started again. I should warn you, should you watch the film after seeing the box, the name "steven seagal" or the hilarious title, it is spectacular. If you don't laugh out loud at the maliciously bad acting on display, the plot's definitely gonna make you laugh. The stunt work is fine as usual, but the action scenes despite their groovy slow-mo, are completely flat and boring. why would you ever care about characters so detestable as these? seagal can't act, but now he's old he can't even fight. But to surround him with a bunch of c-list rappers and card board cut outs is unforgivably bad.
Say what you will about this movie, but it pleasantly surprised me. Sure, it has millions of cliches and isn't very original, but it was a good movie, in my opinion. Ja Rule and Seagal worked well together. There was actually some emotions in a Seagal movie, that shocked me by surprise. Pretty good action sequences and lots of gunfire and explosives, what more can you expect out of an action film. Don't believe all the negative reviews until you've seen it. You will either love it or hate it, but at least give it a view before you knock it. 7 out of 10 stars for me.
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