Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Half Past Dead (2002)
Review by Dan Taylor

Steven Seagal is HALF PAST DEADHe has portrayed a cop who emerges from a seven-year coma in order to get revenge on the bad guys (HARD TO KILL). He's been an eskimo-loving, tree-hugging oil rig worker who would rather blow up the rig than see Michael Caine get the oil rights (ON DEADLY GROUND). We've even been asked to believe him as a doctor (THE PATRIOT), beret-wearing cop (OUT FOR JUSTICE) and comic relief (THE GLIMMER MAN).

But never, ever, has my man Steven Seagal pegged the Ridicul-O-Meter so many times as during the entire running time of the wonderfully over-the-top, zany action fest that is HALF PAST DEAD.

Using the same framework as the dull but popular EXIT WOUNDS, Segal teams up with rapper Ja-Rule in an attempt to appeal to a more urban audience. And whatever you might think about the guy, at least he's staying true to his action star roots and not making race car movies (like Stallone's DRIVEN).

What makes HPD so enjoyable in such whacked out fashion is that it asks the audience to suspend its disbelief more than any recent film I can recall. We first meet Big Steve when the crime boss he works for wants to make sure that car thief Sascha Petrosevitch (Seagal) is on the level and not the undercover fed he thinks might be lurking in his organization.

How many totally outrageous things can you pick out of that sentence? Forget the fact that he's a paunchy Italian playing a Russian (?) guy named Sascha, we're supposed to believe that Seagal is cramming his beefy frame behind the wheel of a slick sports car?! That MIGHT be the flick's greatest special effect!

After getting caught in the crossfire of a bust-gone-bad, Sascha crosses over to the other side where he's told that it's not his time and he has to go back so that Seagal can star in such upcoming epics as THE FOREIGNER and OUT FOR A KILL. Thrown into New Alcatraz, Sascha teams back up with buddy Nick Frazier (Ja Rule). This must be a "new" Alcatraz, as both Seagal and Ja Rule are allowed to fight a guard within minutes of reaching the facility and nobody puts the homosexual moves on any of the new meat.

It doesn't take long before the flick's DIE HARD-esque plotline takes effect and undercover fed Sascha (gasp!) must team with the inmates in order to foil a villainous plan to get a condemned killer (Bruce Weitz of HILL STREET BLUES fame) to spill the beans about $200 million in gold bars.

Kudos to Morris Chestnut (Seagal's sidekick in the underrated UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY) as the impeccably-dressed villain, Nia Peeples for showing a lil' belly while toting that firearm, and writer/director Don Michael Paul for coming up with the flick's final outrageous action sequence that had me chuckling for two days.


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