Never Die Alone

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Rating: R

Starring:
DMX as King David
Michael Ealy as Michael
David Arquette as Paul
Drew Sidora as Ella
Antwon Tanner as Blue
Luenell Campbell as Jasper
Clifton Powell as Moon
Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr. as Rockie
Big Daddy Wayne as Red
Damion Poitier as Alvin
Jalil Jay Lynch as Earl
Aisha Tyler as Nancy
Jennifer Sky as Janet
Reagan Gomez-Preston as Juanita
Jay Lynch as Earl
Henry Gibson as Funeral Home Director

Special Features:
Commentary by DMX, director Ernest Dickerson, and screenwriter James Gibson

Theatrical trailer(s)

11 deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Ernest Dickerson

Making-of featurette

Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

Other Info:
Widescreen Anamorphic (2.53:1)
Full Screen (1.33:1)
Spanish Language
Spanish and French Subtitles
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
Running Time – 88 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on the 1974 novel by Donald Goines.

After 10 years of hiding out in L.A., drug dealer and gangster King David returns to the East Coast looking to pay off old debts and set his life back on track. However, he’s not able to find redemption. Instead King David is killed by Mike and his friend who are hired thugs of a local pimp and drug dealer. As King David dies, Paul, a reporter enamored with black culture and inner city life, rushes him to the hospital.

After King David dies, Paul takes possession of his belongings. He discovers a set of tapes in his car where King David tells his life story. Through the tapes Paul learns of the rise and fall of this corrupt individual.

Meanwhile, Mike is on the run from not only the police but his former boss. After his friends and family are killed, Mike begins waging his own war of revenge against the gang that he used to call family. But what will happen when Mike and Paul cross paths again?

Never Die Alone is rated R for strong violence, drug use, sexuality and language.

The Movie:
I have to say I was dreading watching Never Die Alone. I’m not really into urban dramas and that’s what this had been labeled as. However, after watching it, I found it to be better then I expected. The story had a little more thought than other urban dramas and the characters were a little more complex. Still, the film had its fair share of problems.

The biggest problem with the film is that the main hero, King David, has no redeeming qualities, yet he’s portrayed as someone that’s charismatic, noble, and intriguing. In fact, Paul even says he has some sort of nobility about him. As David strikes cool poses, woos the ladies, and generally acts macho, you quickly lose sight of all the bad things that he’s done. He’s a drug dealer, he’s a murderer, he abuses children, and he manipulates women. Yet the way he’s shown in the movie, young impressionable audiences are apt to want to imitate him. I think one of the ideas behind this character is to make the point that the devil isn’t always going to be unappealing, but more likely to be attractive. However, that message is never driven home the way it should be. Kids are going to want to be him rather than despise him.

As for the acting, DMX isn’t bad as King David. There are a lot of rappers out there who are worse actors. But DMX has the tough guy routine down pretty good. I do have to say, though, that I find it hard to believe that a hardened street criminal would be inclined to narrate his life’s story on audio tape. Moving on, David Arquette is OK as Paul, but anybody really could have played his character. Michael Ealy is intriguing as Michael, the young man with a troubled past who’s out seeking revenge. If you like vengeance tales, his story will be most interesting. Reagan Gomez-Preston is also noteworthy as Juanita. Her character goes through quite a dramatic change after meeting King David.

The other thing I liked about the film is that fact that it wasn’t jam packed with rap music. Rather than putting it into every spare second of the film, it was used sparingly in favor of the character dialogue. This made it much more tolerable as an urban drama. Unfortunately, most of that dialogue is made up of the word “f**k”. It’s a shame that this is the case, but I suppose the creators thought it was necessary in order to feel authentic.

The movie is also pretty good looking. Director Ernest Dickerson captures some cool shots and features some impressive imagery. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with in the future.

If you’re into urban dramas or you like DMX, then you’ll probably enjoy this film. Otherwise there are better films that are similar out there that you’ll want to check out first.

The Extras:
Besides including both the fullscreen and widescreen versions of the film, a few other extras are included:

Commentary by DMX, director Ernest Dickerson, and screenwriter James Gibson – The commentary started out with an angry, profanity filled rap by DMX which was an instant turn off for me. But after that start, DMX simply rambles, stutters, and makes inane comments through the rest of the film. Gibson and Dickerson are quieter, but they prompt DMX on to more shallow comments. All in all, I didn’t care for the commentary.

11 deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Ernest Dickerson – A good portion of the deleted scenes center around Paul trying to get a job as a reporter, dealing with his girlfriend, or getting beat up. Considering he wasn’t the central focus of the story, dropping the bulk of his scenes made sense. Other deleted scenes aren’t particularly memorable or relevant to the plot.

Making-of featurette – This is your typical making of feature with interviews with the cast and crew. It’s interesting to note that DMX fully admits that his character is a bad guy. Everybody else does, too, for that matter.

The Bottom Line:
This film is more for DMX fans and fans of urban dramas than anyone else. The lack of any “good guys” may be a turn off to some, but others may be into this dark film. View at your own risk.

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