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Half Past Dead
2002 - PG-13 - 98 Mins.
Director: Don Michael Paul
Producer: Christopher Eberts, Randall Emmett, Eli Samaha
Written By: Don Michael Paul
Starring: Steven Seagal, Ja Rule, Morris Chestnut, Nia Peebles, Tony Plana
Review by: Joe Rickey
Steven Seagal isn’t known for starring in films with deep context or anything resembling a film that could be considered Oscar caliber. Nope, instead Mr. Seagal is known across the world for being a well-built white guy with limited acting range that knows karate and uses it to defend the world from the latest nemesis in film after film. Of late, he has been known to team up with the latest popular rap artist to solidify the box office draw of the films he stars in. 2000’s Exit Wounds was the last such film as Seagal teamed up with DMX in that violent nonstop action extravaganza that was blessed with a spontaneous feel and a funny performance by Tom Arnold. Now, two years later, he once again teams up with a rap artist in Half Past Dead, written and directed by Don Michael Paul, a veteran television series director. By the way, Seagal stars alongside the rappers Karupt and Ja Rule with actor Morris Chestnut (The Brothers) also appearing.

The plot of the film involves a hidden stash of gold in a high-tech prison and the men who desperately want to find it. From this very thin plot, director Don Michael Paul decides not to worry too much about the various specifics of the plot and therefore countless plot holes are present that never are resolved during the course of the film. Instead, he attempts to film well-choreographed action scenes and hopefully appease fans of longtime action star Steven Seagal. Conversely, Paul also gives it a valiant effort to incorporate the slang and attitudes that fans of rap music expect from a film starring a popular rap-recording artist. In meshing these different styles the film becomes wholly unsuccessful because the fight scenes are filled with quick cuts ad-nausea and the slang might fit with the prison setting but becomes annoying after it’s all one hears throughout the entire film. The only people this film is likely to satisfy are those that like to see a bunch of different objects get blown up in the exaggerated explosions so common in action films. Does a car always explode after starting on fire? How about a dumpster? In this film they burst into huge balls of flame and pieces of them go flying off into every conceivable direction. The film’s plot is also too familiar to be that exciting simply because chances are, you have seen the same story many times before. Really, did the public ask for yet another testosterone filled prison action film?

What the film does avoid is being offensively over the top like Exit Wounds was and therefore escapes the MPAA ratings board with a somewhat surprising PG-13 rating. The film doesn’t appear to be watered down to this rating, instead it seems that the film was shot with the rating in mind from the very beginning. The copious amount of swearing that was in Exit Wounds is also conspicuously absent in Half Past Dead.

Overall, while Half Past Dead isn’t as violent and otherwise offensive as 2000’s Exit Wounds, it still suffers from being derivative and mindless action entertainment at best, aiming for the lowest common denominator to attract an audience.
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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