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HALF PAST DEAD

Choreography
The director cites the fight sequence between Ja Rule's Nick Frazier and Peeple's 49er Six as his favorite action scene. Choreographed by Hong Kong fight choreographer Xin Xin Xiong, the sequence stands as a thrill packed scene. Peeples recalls, "It was interesting working with Xin Xin because he comes from that Hong Kong way of doing things, which is kind of like ‘Ah, throw you out there and get up, jump, fall down, get back up, and see what happens kind of a thing. We got to do some wirework, which was very exciting for me. Having come off of a couple of years doing martial arts fights with no wires and no time to shoot, it was kind of fun for me to be put on the wires and be assisted in doing things that were a little bit more extraordinary than what I was used to doing.

Peeples' close collaboration with Xiong was based on professional trust: "It was really interesting watching him work with his crew. You know, you think you're on the wires and you've got all these safeties. As you're hanging there, five stories up over the floor, you look over to see whose got ya,' and it's just a bunch of guys puffin' on cigarettes holding these ropes, and I'm thinking, "Oooooh, okay.” But it was fun for me.”

Beyond the action of the fight scene between Peeples and Ja Rule, the writer/director layered in important character development. "What the (fight scene) does for Ja Rule's character is, it makes you like him even more,” explains Paul. "Here's a guy who gets beaten kind of handily by a girl, and he just shakes it off and smiles about it, and for whatever reason, it just endears you to him.”

"On the flipside of that, " continues Paul, "it makes you hate (Nia Peeples') character even more. She becomes this character that the audience will love to hate, but that makes you wonder when she'll come back and what she'll do next.”

Half Past Dead is filled with action sequences that pack a punch, both literally and figuratively. Chestnut's Donny is featured in a high-flying fight scene swinging from chains, doing battle with Seagal's Sascha character. Chestnut calls the sequence "interesting, to say the least. I had never done anything like that before, so I wasn't really certain how it was going to turn out.” Seagal adds, "We had Yien Yien coming from China to coordinate our action sequences. We worked hard together and trained for six months.”

Another memorable scene includes a high-tech helicopter crashing down into the prison. Both Ja Rule and filmmaker Paul cite this sequence as personal favorites. In the scene, Ja Rule's Nick commandeers the crippled copter. "Yeah, that helicopter scene was cool. It was a prop, but it was all good, kicking it in the helicopter.”

Getting that prop helicopter lodged into the ceiling of the prison set presented quite a challenge to the film's crew. "It was a real Huey. We had to cut it into twenty-two pieces, then re- assemble it inside the rafters,” recalls Paul. "Just getting the helicopter into the rafters of the prison, then rigging it to come crashing down was a structural engineering feat.”

By weaving a simple story of revenge and redemption with jaw-dropping action sequences, the filmmaker and cast agree that the end product is a highly entertaining one.

"I hope the audience is entertained beyond their wildest imagination,” says star Morris Chestnut. His sentiments are echoed by costar Ja Rule. "At the end of the day, you just want the audience to be thoroughly entertained.”

Kurupt adds: "I hope (the audience) just sits back and enjoys it - totally. And also, rapping history has been made in this particular film Half Past Dead. ‘Cause its got Kurupt and Ja Rule - and you know that's deep for hip hop.”

Writer and Director Don Michael Paul sums it all up. "I want the audience to have fun. T

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