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Half Past Dead

I rented Half Past Dead today and watched it this evening. With some trepidation. I had wanted to see it when it came out in the theaters, but couldn't find anyone who would go with me (I much, much prefer seeing a movie with someone), and then it was gone, vanished in the dust of critical disapproval. So I was worried that I wouldn't like it--that I would find a Steven Seagal film that I didn't like. No need to worry. The critics, as usual, were wrong.

I can see where the film might have lost the critics. There is a warmth in the midst of the action, a bond between men, understandings that passed with a look between characters without being spelled out in words, that might have confused the critics. It isn't, in short, an easy movie, and one must have some modicum of sensitivity and understanding to get it. Although this may sound like an odd thing to say about an action film, one isn't spoon fed in this movie, nor is it totally just an action movie. In short, it is hard to classify, and most critics hate things that don't fit easily into one bucket or another.

So how can one classify it?

  • Action? Undoubtedly. But that isn't all there is to it and the fights are, surprisingly, fewer, or at least seem fewer, than the usual fare, and rely more on suggestion than out-and-out blood and gore.
  • Hiphop? Yes, to an extent. The soundtrack is heavy on the hiphop, perhaps hoping to draw in those who love Ja Rule and Kurupt, but is perhaps the weakest part of the film. Nothing wrong with the soundtrack or hiphop; it just got in the way sometimes. Though the film editor did his or her creative best to match the cutting to the music.
  • Thriller? Some. You think one of the characters is going to be a Hannibal Lectorish-type character (from Silence of the Lambs), and he isn't. Smart and principled in his own way, observant of things that are said and unsaid, and acting on those observations without having to say why he is acting as he is.
  • A buddy film? Sort of, but not the simplistic sort of things that try to make us think that two men can be friends without there having to be some work and some give-and-take on both sides. It was refreshing to see the relationship between Steven Seagal's character and Ja Rule's character be tested, be stressed, and yet make it.
  • Mystical? Yes, it is that too. The title refers to the fact that one of the characters is clinically dead for a while, and then comes back to life with a greater understanding of What It's All About. This plays a key role in later events in the film in an almost coincidental way, though as Jung said, there isn't any such thing as coincidence, and instead what seems to be coincidental is all part of a beautifully choreographed dance that we all participate in, half-unknowing.

Aside from Steven Seagal, who is much underrated as an actor (and who shows some particularly fine acting in this film), one of the things I really like about this movie is that its makers actually respect their audience enough to trust that the audience will figure some things out on their own, without having cue cards and crayoned signs. In fact, though most might miss the resemblance, I see a strong thread of the understated Japanese ethos running through this film, where much is said in looks and actions, and not as much in words.

That is probably what bugged the critics the most--they couldn't figure it out, and so they dismissed it, making the usual sneering, unoriginal comments about Steven Seagal's acting abilities. Yes, it is an action film and yes, it is pretty experimental in many ways, but I admire the fact that the filmmakers were willing to take a few chances.

Of course, I could be totally wrong and the filmmakers could be laughing up their sleeves at my take on this movie, but that's the beauty of any artistic work: One can take what one likes out of it, regardless of what was meant. Which reminds me of something that happened when I went to see The Game (starring Michael Douglas), where my date turned to me and said, at the end of the movie...well, I'll save that anecdote for another post.


Sin duda uno de los mejores filmes de Steven Seagal, el soundtrack se me hace interesante.

buena pelicula, se ve que se esmeran por hacer mejor cine en america

Si, si, el soundtrack (la banda de sonido) es muy bueno, pero no la mejor para esta película. Y sin dudo una de los mejores filmes de Steven Seagal. Gracias por visitar mi Web site. Perdone por favor el español de mi principiante.

I personally felt that this film was excellent...
I think Steven is very charismatic, and seems he is a fine actor who only gets better with time...This is some of Steven Seagal's most charming work...
I saw this film quite a few times on the big screen, and really enjoyed the music as well as his fighting...I feel it shows him as a very realistic character, probably much like the real man himself, to me his performance was very touching...He's everyone's buddy, and he's even the one the death row inmate turns to for some understanding...
He also risks his life for the others, now that's really something..I sure wouldn't mind spending some time with big Steve...He seems like a really great guy...And what's all this about him being big, he's a man, men should be big, that's what
I think...I think he's really very handsome and attractive...I think everyone should go see this film, I thought it was a whole lot of good fun...

i need to find the sound track to this flim its driving me crazy! somebody please help!


The best

I loved Ja Rule and Kurupt. They were the stars. Best action movie I've seen all year.


Get it and hold onto it. Someday people will go bulistic for it.

First time reading this blog, just wanted to say hi.

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