As Good As Dead – Film Review

Directed by R. Ellis Frazier, As Good As Dead is an action film that is produced, written by and stars Michael Jai White as the films lead character.

Ex-cop Bryant (Michael Jai White) is trying to leave his past behind by living a quiet life in Mexico. He begins to teach local teenager Oscar (Luca Oriel) self-defence so can protect himself. But when Oscar‘s brother Hector (Guillermo Iván) is released from jail, he takes Oscar to a local underground fight competition. Oscar challenges and beats the champion fighter after using the fighting techniques that Bryant taught him which causes the video of his fight to go viral. Because of this, some trouble from Bryant‘s past will come back to haunt not only him but Oscar and Hector as well. So, it us up to Bryant to try and help save the day with a little help from his friends.

I have to admit, when I was about five to ten minutes into As Good As Dead, I was thinking that it could be difficult to get through. But as the film progressed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film became more enjoyable to watch. I believe that this is due to the stakes in the film getting higher as the story develops. While I did find the film enjoyable, I have to say that the film was still mostly predictable and appears to use elements from other action films to tell its story.

There is even a hilarious scene between Bryant and Oscar where Oscar is comparing Bryant‘s story to multiple action films which makes me feel that they are self-aware that As Good As Dead might not be the most original idea. Multiple action films from different periods are referenced, some are well known, and some might be a little obscure which I think shows that Michael Jai White as a writer has a wide knowledge and appreciation of the action film genre.

Michael Jai White has a lot of experience being in action films which shows as he delivers the strongest acting performance in this film. He delivers a mostly serious no nonsense performance as Bryant; however he does deliver the odd one-liner here and there and is obviously good in fight and action scenes. I can’t say that many of the acting performances are as strong but because this is a straight to VOD/DVD film, it is to be expected that the acting might not be the strongest but there is still a certain charming quality knowing that these actors might not be as experienced compared to other actors from a blockbuster film.

Also, to my surprise, the sets in the film looked quite good. A lot of As Good As Dead is set in a rural part of Mexico so a lot of it is in a quiet looking desert with Bryant living in a small house. Without giving too much away the set design in the final act of the film looked like a lot of effort was put into it which looked just as good or close to how the film might have looked if it was a high budget Hollywood blockbuster.

As Good as Dead may not be the most original film that you will see but what it lacks in originality it makes up for it by keeping you invested with high stakes action. If you are a fan of the Rambo and The Terminator franchises or action films in general, I recommend giving As Good As Dead a shot.

As Good as Dead is available to watch on VOD and DVD in Australia now.

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