28 June 2008 | tawdry_hepburn
Half Past Dead 2.
Think about that for a moment. Does that mean, "Half Past Dead, As Well" or "Two Individuals who are Both Half Past Dead in equal measure" or, "3 Times as Dead as the Average Corpse"? I don't know, but logic was never the strong suit of this wouldbe prison riot franchise.
When the first Half Past Dead came out Steven Seagal wasn't the joke he is today. He was simply box office poison. The movie grossed 15 million dollars and quietly ended the theatrical career of Seagal. Since then, Seagal has gone on to star in about a dozen direct-to-video actioners. Oddly however, he is not in this sequel.
Instead, we get rapper Kurupt returning as the whiny wise guy, "Twitch" and new-comer Bill Goldberg as a framed felon with a heart of gold. Continuing the series' standard of actor/directors Art Camacho takes over from Don Michael Paul as director of the shenanigans.
Instead of just resetting the series and using the name and general premise (annoying B-level rapper sidekick and innocent white ass kicker) as a selling point, Half Past Dead 2 legitimizes its' existence by continuing the plot of the first film which centered around $200 million in missing gold. Twitch knows where said gold is, as does another prisoner who is to be paroled before Twitch. Twitch does the only logical thing, picks a prison fight and gets sent to a prison closer to the gold's location
Twitch plans to break out of prison. But before anything happens, a riot breaks out while Goldberg's daughter and Twitches fiancé are visiting. Mayhem ensues.
It's almost needless to say, but Half Past Dead 2 is not a very good movie. There are massive logic jumps. The main plot is predicated on the assumption that a man can yell a name in a crowed room, pull out a gun and shoot someone, and then frame another man for the crime. The rest of the movie feels oddly reminiscent of Lets Go to Prison.
Also, Kurupt's Twitch, the film's main protagonist, is more annoying than he clever. His motivations are not always clear, and Goldberg's performance could not be flatter if the film were animated
Still, the film is oddly watchable. Thanks to Camacho's energetic direction that makes the most of the film's obviously microscopic budget, and some solid (for the genre) performances from the bit players.
And then there is the guy who has his face tattooed right below his face on his neck. Yeah, it's that kind of movie. Whereas recent big budget fair like Grindhouse tried to imitate this kind of film, Half Past Dead 2 is a real entry into the genre of schlocky B-grade ultra-violent grindhouse fair. While it doesn't hold a candle to the inspired brutality of say, Sonny Chiba's The Streetfighter, or the out and out lunacy of Roger Corman's Death Race 2000, Half Past Dead 2 does hold its' own. It's not great, but it's definitely better than the original and nothing painful to watch.