Half Past Dead

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Half Past Dead
Half Past Dead.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Don Michael Paul
Produced by Elie Samaha
Steven Seagal
Andrew Stevens
Written by Don Michael Paul
Starring Steven Seagal
Ja Rule
Morris Chestnut
Nia Peeples
Tony Plana
Michael "Bear" Talliferro
Music by Tyler Bates
Cinematography Michael Slovis
Edited by Vanick Moradian
Distributed by Screen Gems
Release dates
  • November 15, 2002 (2002-11-15)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25,000,000[1]
Box office $19,233,280[2]

Half Past Dead is a 2002 American action film written and directed by Don Michael Paul in his directorial debut, and produced by Steven Seagal, who also starred in the lead role.[3] The film co-stars Morris Chestnut, Ja Rule and Nia Peeples. The film was released in the United States on November 15, 2002. This was Seagal's last theatrical film until 2010's Machete, and his very first film not to be rated R.

The film tells the story of a criminal who infiltrates a prison to interrogate a prisoner about the location of a fortune in gold while an undercover FBI agent has to stop him. Distribution and copyrights are held by Columbia Pictures.


In San Francisco, Sasha Petrosevitch (Steven Seagal) is a Russian car thief who's brought in by criminal Nick Frazier (Ja Rule) to work for crime boss Sonny Eckvall (Richard Bremmer), who apparently shot and killed Sasha's wife. After some time, FBI Special Agent Ellen "E. Z." Williams (Claudia Christian) and her team show up to nail Nick, but things go bad, and Sasha gets shot.

After eight months of recovery following his brief bout of being clinically dead from the shooting, Sasha is incarcerated along with Nick in the newly reopened Alcatraz prison. Run by the charismatic warden, Juan Ruiz "El Fuego" Escarzaga (Tony Plana), the place is known for its new state of the art death chamber where the condemned can choose from five different ways to die: lethal injection, gas chamber, hanging, firing squad, or electric chair.

Lester McKenna (Bruce Weitz), is the first death row prisoner brought to the new Alcatraz and also the first prisoner scheduled to be executed. An older man, he stole $200,000,000 worth of gold bricks in a heist that resulted in five deaths, and hid the loot at an unknown location. Federal Bureau of Prisons head Frank Hubbard (Stephen J. Cannell) and Supreme Court Justice June McPherson (Linda Thorson) have arrived to witness the execution, which is a result of June sentencing Lester.

But she's not the only one interested in Lester. A small but well equipped team of terrorists who call themselves the "49ers" have parachuted onto the Alcatraz island, and gained control of it. Led by 49er One, a.k.a. Hubbard's assistant Donny Johnson (Morris Chestnut), and 49er Six (Nia Peeples), the team finds Lester, and they want him to give up the location of his hidden stash of gold. When Lester will not tell them, Donny shoots a nearby priest (Eva-Maria Schönecker), and threatens to kill others if the information is not delivered.

Donny's plan is disrupted, however, when Sascha decides to step in and fight back. It turns out that Sasha is actually an undercover FBI agent who has been trying to use Nick to get to Sonny Eckvall. When Sasha rescues Lester, the 49ers strap June to the electric chair and threaten to kill her, all while Ellen and her team prepare a rescue plan from the mainland.

With the help of Nick and some of the other inmates such as Twitch (Kurupt) and Little Joe (Michael "Bear" Taliferro), Sasha sets out to rescue June and bring Donny down, before Alcatraz becomes everyone's final resting place.



The film has received negative reviews from most film critics. It ranked 19th in Rotten Tomatoes's 100 worst films of the 2000s and had a 3% fresh rating, with critic Roger Ebert stating: "Half Past Dead is like an alarm that goes off with nobody in the room. It does its job, stops, and nobody cares."

Awards and Nominations[edit]


Half Past Dead 2 was released direct-to-video in May 2007, though it did not star Steven Seagal or Ja Rule. The starring characters were Twitch (Kurupt) and Burke (Bill Goldberg).

Home media[edit]

DVD was released in Region 1 in the United States on March 4, 2003, and also Region 2 in the United Kingdom on 15 September 2003, it was distributed by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.


External links[edit]