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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,[4] alongside Andrew Stevens and Elie Samaha. The film co-stars Morris Chestnut, Ja Rule, Tony Plana, Kurupt, and Nia Peeples. 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. Half Past Dead was released on November 15, 2002 by Screen Gems. The film grossed $19 million worldwide against its budget of $25 million.

Half Past Dead
Half Past Dead.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDon Michael Paul
Produced by
Written byDon Michael Paul
Music byTyler Bates
CinematographyMichael Slovis
Edited byVanick Moradian
Distributed byScreen Gems
Release date
  • November 15, 2002 (2002-11-15)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$19.2 million[2][3]



In San Francisco, FBI agent Sasha Petrosevitch (Steven Seagal) goes undercover as a Russian car thief and is 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 Jane 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. At this point, Sasha's true true identity is revealed and he used Nick to get to Sonny Eckvall, whom he seeks revenge on for the death of his wife. When Sasha rescues Lester, the 49ers strap Jane 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 Jane and bring Donny down, before Alcatraz becomes everyone's final resting place.



The film was at one stage known as Lockdown and was shot in Germany.[5]


Half Past Dead was released on November 15, 2002, in the United States, where it grossed $7.8 million on its opening weekend. It grossed $15.5 million in the US and another $3.7 million outside the US, for a total worldwide gross of $19.2 million.[2] It was released on DVD in the US on March 4, 2003.[6]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 3% of 87 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 3/10. The site's consensus reads: "Seagal is now too bulky to make a convincing action hero, and Half Past Dead is too silly and incoherent to deliver any visceral kicks."[7] Metacritic rated it 23/100 based on 23 reviews.[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Half Past Dead is like an alarm that goes off with nobody in the room. It does its job, stops, and nobody cares."[10]

Seagal was nominated for Worst Actor at the 2003 Golden Raspberry Awards.[11]


Half Past Dead 2 was released direct-to-video on May 15, 2007. The film does not feature actors Steven Seagal or Ja Rule. The starring characters were Twitch (Kurupt) and Burke (Bill Goldberg).


  1. ^ 'Half Past Dead' production budget, The Numbers. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Half Past Dead (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  3. ^ "The Box Office History of 'Half Past Dead' (2002)", The Numbers, published 2003. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Elvis. "Half Past Dead (2002) FILM REVIEW; Prison (Bam!) Pyrotechnics". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Spielberg would consider directing harry potter sequel. (2001, Sep 20). National Post Retrieved from
  6. ^ "Half Past Dead". IGN. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Half Past Dead (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "Half Past Dead". Metacritic. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  9. ^ "CinemaScore".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Half Past Dead". Chicago Sun-Times. November 15, 2002. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  11. ^ Campbell, Duncan (February 9, 2003). "Raspberry time for Hollywood's worst". The Guardian. Retrieved December 21, 2015.

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