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Half Past Dead (2002)
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Review Date: November 13, 2002
Director: Don Michael Paul
Writer: Don Michael Paul
Producers: Elie Samaha, Steven Seagal, Andrew Stevens
Actors:
Steven Seagal as Sascha
Ja Rule as Nick
Morris Chestnut as Donny
Plot:
A couple of dudes, one of whom is fat and looks like Steven Seagal and the other who is short and looks like a rapper, get themselves locked inside the "new" Alcatraz jail, only to witness a major operation breaking into the prison in search of a stash of gold. Rap music, explosions and a paper-thin plotline ensue.
Critique:
DIE HARD meets THE ROCK meets a piece of shit. This film is about as recyclable as they come. You get your 3-word title a la every other Seagal crapfest, you get Seagal himself 1-2-3 punching extras every half hour or so, you get sparks and explosions that bore you half the time and you get a story that's about as original as my last date's excuse for not wanting to go out with me anymore ("It's not you, it's me.") Ugh. And if only these were the film's only problems. It's also got hilariously obvious bad guys (the dude wears a long black leather jacket...he must be nasty!), idiotic plot details (why was that judge overseeing the execution herself again?), slow-motion up the wazoo, unimportant screen info every ten minutes (who cares about what time it is!) and about as many "cutesy" inmates as you would expect...in a high-security prison?? Whatever. This film's yet another typical Hollywood "marketing" concoction with Seagal lending his name to yet another rapper's foray into movies (or the other way around), with a heavy rap soundtrack overriding much of the film's laughable dialogue. Ironically, it was some of the over-the-top stuff that made me laugh in that "so bad, it's good" type of way and provided me with at least some enjoyment during the mostly tiring 90 minutes of wham-bam-NO-thank-you-ma'am of cinema.

Some of the action stuff was somewhat interesting, especially when combined with the heavier music (which I tend to appreciate), but to be honest...there isn't one sequence that I can even remember, so if you're looking for John Woo, he ain't in this house! I did amuse myself somewhat by trying to figure out if Seagal's head had actually gotten bigger than Val Kilmer's (figuratively or literally?), but that game took a bad seat whenever Seagal said a few words, and I realized that he was actually trying to act "street". Very funny! You haven't seen hilarity in a movie until you witness a scene between Seagal and Ja Rule in which the latter is trying to teach the former how to properly say "a-yight"...funny stuff. And even though most of the characters, especially the aforementioned Ja Rule, were never really given any background or reasons for us to care, there was this one strange sequence in which we are given plenty of info on a secondary character (the woman judge), which felt completely out of place.

I also love how the screenwriter (who is also the director) took the easy way out of the bad guy's "reason" for doing what they're doing with the ol' "cause I feel like it" excuse (yawn). C'mon dude...we're paying good money to see your movie...how about you try and come up with something creative? Thankfully, the movie does move pretty quickly and does end on a pretty funny twist in the air (although I still have no idea how these folks ultimately got out of jail). Oh, and before I forget, two specific characters really got on my nerves as well: one was the prison's "warden", who for some reason appeared to be as bad a fella as any of the villains ("Dees is my island...!"-I thought the government owned it, buddy), and the embarrassingly obvious poor man's MATRIX rip-off villainness, black leather clad, blue make-up smeared around her eyes and plenty of glossy lipstick with which she can...well, blind the good guys when they're attempting to shoot her? Ridiculous. Thankfully, the film doesn't seem to take itself too seriously either (the credit sequence has a funny back-and-forth between Kurupt and his lady friend), so if guns, prison breaks and Steven Seagal's fat stuntman...oops, I mean...Steven Seagal himself, kickin' some arse "does it" for you, you might want to rent it on video, under the slew of pornos that I recommend you rent at the same time...if only to see which genre of film has the worse acting.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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