About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Home
March 2004

Never Die Alone
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Directed by: Ernest Dickerson
Produced by: Earl Simmons & Alessandro Camon
Screenplay: James Gibson, based on the Holloway House Book by Donald Goines
Director of Photography: Matthew Libatique, ASC
Music Composer: George Duke
Cast: DMX, David Arquette, Michael Ealy, Clifton Powell, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Antwon Tanner, Tommy "Tiny" Lister, and Jennifer Sky

In order for anyone to appreciate this film, you have to know that the film is an adaptation of a book by Novelist Donald Goines. Goines is someone who many know urban folks for writing gripping stories about life on the streets from his perspective. Most of his main characters were pimps, drug dealers, hit men, and the list goes on. They ruled at their game no matter what the cost was. At the same time, with some of the characters, they wanted redemption for what they because somehow a conscience developed between their sick twisted mind. Goines's novels weren't positive enough to display on the big screen. After all, why would anyone seen a film were there are no redeeming characters. Most films have to have someone to root for. In this case, NEVER DIE ALONE, is a very well adapted story for which DMX excels in a role he could do blinded. If you haven't read any of Goines's books, then this film will disturb you, for it's not a pretty site to see.

King David (DMX) is a drug dealer returning home after 10 years on the lam from the folks he stole money from. In the time he was away, he lived well and made more money than he could have imagined. Now it's time to come away and redeem himself amongst his peers. The person King stole the money from, Moon (Powell), doesn't want to hear an apology and let bygones be bygones. He wants him dead, but wants the money he's owed first and sends his best soldiers, Mike (Ealy) and Blue (Tanner) to collect the payment. Moon knows the Mike has some personal beef to settles with King so he tells him that it's a test to see if Mike can keep his cool while on the job. Before you know it, Mike doesn't, and King is lying on the floor dying from several stabs to the chest. That's where Paul (Arquette) comes into the picture. He's a journalist who happens to witness the gruesome scene and helps King to a hospital where he eventually dies. Paul is told that King left all his belongs to him with the condition that he pays for a decent burial. As Paul drives around in King's car, he finds some tapes that King left, in which King talks about how he came to be in the position that left him a wanted man in his community. The films goes back and forth highlighting what King did while living the life of a drug lord.

As Paul starts hearing the tapes, little does he know that Moon has sent some men looking for him as Moon doesn't want any witness to be his downfall should anything King said before his death come out.

Dickerson has done a remarkable job in illustrating in making King, a merciless soul while giving him some charisma. DMX commands attention with this role. His voice is powerful and his acting is adequate, but it's not so much a stretch considering DMX himself started hustling in the streets before he cleaned up his act and became a well-known rapper. The cinematography is at times grainy as it should be when describing a depressing story. The women in the film (Sky, Gomez-Preston) should be praised for taking roles in which their characters are debased and physically humiliated. Reagan Gomez-Preston is sweet and vulnerable as the young student who tries to tame King with love and affection. Ealy stands out amongst the actors as someone who knows the difference of right and wrong yet stays in the game because he's a product of the environment. At less than 90 minutes, Never Die Alone is a short film, which is appropriate, considering the lifespan of the Goines (37 yrs) when he died, and anyone who's in this business. It's a disturbing, powerful film, given by a bravado performance given by DMX.