Retro Review: Half Past Dead

Written: November 24, 2002

Steven Seagal returns with another rapper named Ja Rule for his follow-up non-sequel to last year’s “Exit Wounds”. The most interesting thing about this film is who is half past dead, Seagal or the movie?

Deep undercover operative Sascha Petrosevitch (Steven Seagal) has infiltrated a ruthless mob-style street gang.

Sascha’s mission to watch and get close to Nick Frazier (Ja Rule) in hopes of taking down his mob-boss, who happens to have killed Sascha’s wife. Sascha follows Nick into prison in hopes of acquiring his trust.

In their prison, a death-row inmate, Lester (Bruce Weitz), holds the key to a shipment of stolen gold bars. Bent on cracking Lester, a sociopath named Donny (Morris Chestnut) leads a group elite soldiers into the prison. Sascha and Nick are caught in the crossfire and Sascha is forced to give up everything he has worked for to bring down Donny and Co.

“Half Past Dead” could have been a good movie if the scriptwriters would have dropped the whole “Sascha” story and stuck with the prison heist storyline. The scenes involving Morris Chestnut, Nia Peeples (Chestnut’s #2 in the film) and Bruce Weitz were a lot more interesting than watching portly Seagal waddle around with a gun.

I really saw a range of talent in Chestnut as I found he played quite a convincing villain. He was great to watch in the threatening scenes with the Judge.

I also really liked the Japanese anime/dominatrix thing that was Nia Peeples character. There was something about that blue eyeliner.

If you forget that Seagal’s career is “half past dead” and focus on other elements of this film then you see a sliver of a good movie. Mind you, I did say sliver!

(1.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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