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When a sinister European international gangster stereotype says “I am a soldier trained in the art of killing” we know we’re stamping our passports for a visit to Craplandia.
Half Past Dead is a jail break film based on a phenomenon which is frequent enough that Wikipedia has a page devoted to it: helicopter prison escapes.
The “new” Alcatraz (re-opened as part of a California gubernatorial tough-on-crime agenda) is run by “Il Fuego,” a warden with a Napoleonic complex who claims he’s harder than all the inmates (that is, in the toughness not the below-the-waist meaning of the term). Alcatraz houses a death-row inmate Lester, who’s embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars. The problem is, he’s the only one who knows where the money is and he ain’t talking. Enter 49er 1 (played by Morris Chestnut), a Bosnia vet who hatches a plan to spring Lester from the infamous island prison, get the money and “work on his tan” (sounds better coming out of the mouth of African American Morris Chestnut than say, Silvio Berlusconi).
There’s only one thing standing in his way: a 6’4 past-his-salad days martial artist with a do-rag!
Steven Seagal plays Sasha, a Russian American undercover FBI agent who earned the trust of Nick (Ja Rule), who was under the employ of an evil Swedish (we’re guessing) European criminal mastermind. They exchange banter about how to pronounce “ai-ight” and Nick says that famously ethnically ambiguous Seagal is “whiter than I thought!”
Anyway, when 49er 1 and his team of mercenaries descend from a helicopter, they have two things to contend with: a bitter Seagal (who seems partial to prison food given his girth) and a crashed escape helicopter.
Just how will they get off the island? Seagal’s all slap-happy with his increasingly glacial martial arts and opponents do pirouettes when they’re touched. Nick is thrown out of a moving vehicle and bounces up unscathed and despite this being a state-of-the-art prison, doors aren’t bullet-proof.
Loud, dumb and fun.
Enjoy our podcast discussion!
*** (out of 5)