Review by Dan Taylor
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
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.