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 Half Past Dead (2002)

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2/10/05.  The Humboldt County Travelogue NPLU's long lost documentary now available on DVD!

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Features

Sasquatch Ain't Dead Yet, an interview with investigator Jimmy Chilcutt.
 
The Films of Jensen Rufe, an interview with filmmaker Jensen Rufe.
 
 
Written and Directed by Don Michael Paul

Cast: Steven Seagal, Ja Rule, Nia Peeples (Didn't she have a career once?), Kurupt, Morris Chestnut, Claudia Christian, and Tony Plana.

Review by Trevor Guthrie

Let me start by revealing my personal history with Steven Seagal. As a teenager, my best friend and I would go to see every new Steven Seagal release armed with Foster’s oilcans. As time went by, it seemed that his movies got worse. I used to have a respect for Mr. Seagal, which was rooted in his martial arts style. However, this brings me to the sad state of affairs that is Half Past Dead.
These days, it seems Steven has gotten a little out of shape.
  He spends most of his time waddling up and down dark hallways with a gun. This is a buddy flick, which unfortunately means that we have to believe that Ja Rule is somewhat intimidating for a twelve-year-old with a wispy mustache. The “plot” starts with the typical bad guy, Sasha (Steven Seagal), getting tested to make sure he is a real  bad guy routine, which leads to Steven’s character getting shot by Williams, the FBI’s one and only wild west style gun slinger.

 

 

Now I don’t know when it became okay to let agents go walking around with dual six shooters strapped to their hips, but, apparently, I never got that memo. Next, we see Sasha entering what can only be called the most unbelievably fake, new Alcatraz ever. After a minor scuffle, they make it to the main floor of the prison, which apparently doubles as a gay disco and allows the use of knives by prisoners.  
After introducing the standard group of cliché characters, we get to meet the happy go lucky bad ass warden. El Fuego, runs the prison like a gay bathhouse and has the unique trait of saying everything in Spanish then repeating it in English. Among the interesting things this prison has to offer are the cartoon buzzer noises that goes off whenever someone opens a door, the glass brick dance floor, and the automated dance floor lighting.  
Back to the “plot”. Nick (Ja Rule) and Sasha catch up and relive old times together. Afterwards, we are introduced to the meat of the story. An inmate who is on death row, Lester, stole and hid a train load of gold. For some reason, Attorney General is there to witness his execution. Among Lesterís last wishes are a new suit, a meditative sushi dinner, and a chit chat with Sasha before he goes to meet his maker on the magic hi-tech electric chair lift. Yes, it makes that same buzzer noise when it rises from the ground.  
While this is going on, a group of nifty, ninja terrorist types break into the prison, including a saucy female sporting Divine style make-up. The guards die by the hundreds while the invaders walk around as though they are part of a tour group. The leader of the group turns out to be one of the guys we see at the prison opening, but I was so disinterested in the film by that point I just figured it was someone who looked like him. .  
Now, the group of terrorists has taken control of the prison, and placed the Attorney General in the magic electric chair. The FBI shows up with their command trailer filled with those cool screens that project text on your face.  How exactly are you supposed to read that? I don't want to spoil this fine piece of trash, so I won’t tell you the big surprise ending. Suffice to say that the terrorist’s plans fall apart and Sasha causes them no end of trouble.  
 
In closing, this is a really sad movie because it shows the decline of an action star. Throughout the entire movie, he actually fights maybe three times, and, the rest of the time, he waddles around in the dark with a gun. Most action stars end up this way, but I guess it’s when you have no acting skills outside of your martial arts that it really hits home.  
           

 

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