Never Die Alone (2004)

Action, Crime, Drama
DMX, Michael Ealy, Drew Sidora, Antwon Tanner
A drug kingpin's return home touches off a turf war.
DMX's menacing charisma is put to good use in this stylish but hackneyed modern-day noir.
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 26 Mar 2004 Released:
  • 13 Jul 2004 DVD Release:
  • $5.5M Box office:


A Dark Trip to the Underworld of the Drugs7/10
When the unemployed white journalist Paul (David Arquette), who lives in a ghetto, accidentally witness the execution of the Afro-American King David (DMX), he takes the wounded man to the hospital trying to save his life. David dies, but officially leaves his car and his possessions to Paul. Paul finds some cassette tapes in the car, and while listening to them, he becomes aware that David was a hideous drug dealer.

When I decided to buy this DVD, I had no information about this movie. What a great surprise for me: it is a dark trip to the underworld of the drugs, indeed a contemporary film-noir, with sordid elements. The very dark cinematography fits perfectly to the story creating an atmosphere very adequate to the theme. The screenplay is very well written, but there are many important deleted scenes available on the DVD that explain many situations and connections of the story. DMX, David Arquette and Michael Ealy have excellent performances, but I found the character of Moon too much cliches of the powerful Afro-American drug lord. The scene of Mike leaving the tunnel in the end of the movie is another cliches that works perfectly, indicating the possible redemption of this character. "Never Die Alone" is a surprisingly good, violent and very real movie, which does not spare the characters addicted on drugs, showing the consequence of their vicious and their destiny. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Nunca Morra Sozinho" ("Never Die Alone")
A very dark, and very underrated charater study of a monstrous person10/10

Never Die Alone opens up with a scene that full blown gives away a pivotal event in the film, where we see the main character, King David, lying in a casket, eyes closed, hands on his chest. It's no big secret that he's dead, to me, this movie isn't about the events, but simply about the story and the characters, and that's really all that matters. What I like first about this movie is that it has the power to make the audience not care if the ending is revealed, or if any other event is told before it happens. I don't think this movie is about the ending, but it's simply about King David and his monstrous nature/personality.

Again, the movie opens up with King David in a casket, obviously dead. He gives a narration, and talks about reincarnation and how some say that when you die in one life, you'll pay back for your mistakes in the next one. Immediately, one can wonder why this man would mention this.

King David comes back to his hometown to make amends with a drug dealer that he stole from. This drug dealer is Moon. David offers to give back the 15 thousand he stole in drugs, plus another fifteen thousand for interest. Moon sends two of his boys, Blue and Mike, to make the pickup. During the scene in which Moon tells the two to meet up with David, Mike's reaction sparks up some question, because he gets noticeably angry. We the audience question the history that David and Mike, and ask what the deal is between them. The pickup goes wrong, and King David ends up getting stabbed in the process, right across from a bar. In the bar across the street is aspiring reporter, Paul, a man who hangs out in ghetto areas to gather up information on his novel. David comes to the aid of David, and drives him to the hospital. During this beginning scene, we actually start to feel sympathy for King David, as he pleads to Paul to `Not let him die alone.' This line is somewhat sad, but at this point we have no idea what kind of person David is. David of course dies, and hands over practically everything he has to Paul, probably because he was caring enough to bring him to the hospital and not let him die in the gutters. Among the things Paul gets from David are jewelry, money, and a nice car. Paul eventually finds a collection of audio cassettes, each one an audio diary chronicling the last ten years of David's monstrous life. Then the real story begins.

Through these audio tapes, we realize that David probably never wanted redemption and had no apology for the monstrous acts he's done. We at first feel sorry for his character, and not want him to die, but as the movie chronicles the last ten years, all of that care and sympathy that we had the character disappears as we see King David for who he really is: A monstrous man who has no compassion for anyone. King David charms women, gets to know them, then hooks them on cocaine, THEN switches them to heroin without them knowing, so that they have an unwanted dependence on him. King David is an unapologetic man, who seems to purely like the suffering of others. He single-handedly destroys these women's lives without remorse. He is able to look back on these events and tell them as if he were proud about them. This is his character. Unlike most drug movies, the character isn't sugarcoated, the character isn't sold as a cold blooded killer who still feels remorse for some people. The King David character is the complete opposite. He is written truthfully, without trying to hold back the grim events in his life.

DMX has made a few films in the past, the two most recent (I'm pretty sure) are Exit Wounds, and Cradle 2 The Grave, both mindless action films for the genre fans. Those two movies were there to simply make money, and to entertain people with fights and explosions. I liked those two movies, but I don't those movies were able to expand DMX's acting talents because of what kinds of movies they are. Never Die Alone brings out the performance in DMX that most people probably didn't even know existed. Unlike in Cradle 2 The Grave and Exit Wounds, DMX is able to give his character depth, and is able to define him in ways that most actors cant do. He is able define his character in the most monstrous way possible, and even though this character is monstrous and evil in the movie, DMX cloaks this evil vindictive side, and is able to appear normal, and I think this is the dynamic force of the character, he knows he's evil, he knows he's a horrible person, but he acts as if it's all just an everyday activity to ruin people's lives, and DMX pulls this characteristic off amazingly well. He wrecks people's lives, and he does it with so much ease and so little care, and DMX really brings this character trait to the surface.

David Arquette plays an aspiring reporter, who, like I mentioned earlier, finds King David's audio diaries and discovers the truth about the man he just met. Arquette's character isn't onscreen very much, and he only interacts a few times with other people, with the exception of King David. His character isn't really developed, but he's one of those film characters where he can be developed and presented with only a few sentences. What we can learn about this character is that he simply is willing to go where most people wouldn't dare to go, and he never intends harm to anyone else. The character is simply there to be the good hearted person who doesn't enforce any kind of hate or violence. He's the modern character of the movie, the everyday person. His character is drawn into the complex character of King David. Before he listens to the cassettes, he obviously doesn't know who King David is, but he probably thinks that David isn't that bad of a person, just like the audience. But as he listens to the tapes and hears the monstrous things he's done, we cant really tell what he thinks about the guy afterwards. We don't know whether he still feels some kind of remorse for him, or if he feels that he deserved to die. There might still be some remorse left in Arquette's character, but the movie doesn't really emphasize whether that care and remorse was diminished after he listened to the tapes. Each time this character was onscreen, I sat there wanting the movie to go back to King David's `adventure', mainly because Arquette's character wasn't interesting, and the movie tended to slow down every time they showed him. However, regardless of that problem, it doesn't hurt the movie that much, but I think it could have been fixed in some way.

The nature of this movie is dark and grim, so of course, the movie's setting has to be dark and grim, and it is. The lighting effects obviously reflect the movie's nature, and maybe even it's main character. The locations are perfectly fitting for the dark and depressing tone that the movie tries to set, and the lighting most of the time is perfect, because it maintains a depressing look that has lots of style. Whether or not the movie's look was done just for the sake of looking good, of if it was done to reflect the characters and situations, either way, it was very stylistic.

With DMX's name printed above the title, and with DMX on the front cover with two handguns at hand, most people will think this movie is another mindless action film in the tradition of Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 The Grave. I thought that it was an action film at first, but I had no idea that it was a serious movie dealing with serious characters and serious situations. Never Die Alone is a smart, taught, dark, and stylistic low budget drama that'll either disgust audiences or serve them a dark drama that takes you into the monstrous world of a vicious drug pusher, either way, the audience will despise it for the first reason, and maybe love it for the latter reason. I liked it for the latter.

Score: 9 ½ out of 10.

Very underrated dark drama that deserves some more recognition. Easily one of the best films of 2004.
Enjoyable enough that I want to read the book7/10
For starters story is very smart. That's the stand out thing in the movie. Interesting how one person can affect so many. But it seemed very short.

Acting wise it was average I guess. I'm a fan of DMX and think he isn't a bad actor. But most characters he's played are pretty similar. Good job by the supporting cast as well. David Arquette was the a stand out.

Overall an enjoyable movie. I was looking forward to seeing this movie very much for some reason, and it didn't let me down, but it wasn't perfect either. Once you've watched it you'll probably think something was missing because of the shortness, but there isn't (I think!). I look forward to reading the book.
a bit better than one might expect7/10
Since truth is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction, often the movie with the most unlikely scenario is the one that turns out to be the most believable. This is the case with "Never Die Alone," an urban crime drama with a plot just loopy enough to keep us interested and just goofy enough to make us believe it.

David Arquette plays a white reporter who hangs around in a predominantly black section of the city soaking up the "atmosphere" for articles and books he hopes to write. One night, he attempts to save the life of a black drug kingpin (played by DMX) by driving the man to the hospital after he's been left for dead in a revenge killing. Immediately before his death, the man, who goes by the name "King David," bequeaths his car and other earthly possessions to this inner city Good Samaritan. Included in the haul is an assortment of tapes David recorded detailing his experiences as a successful drug pusher in LA. Thus, as Paul listens to these recordings, a full picture of the kind of man David was soon emerges.

The best thing about "Never Die Alone" is that it doesn't flinch from displaying the ugly, harsh realities of its blood-splattered world. It shows how even the innocent and the good eventually fall victim to the evils of drug addiction and crime. The film is not afraid to kill off characters in a random way, often surprising us with just who ends up dying and who ends up surviving. And it does not attempt to sugarcoat "King David," for despite all his comments about redemption and making up for the evil he's done, David is one hell of an amoral bastard who does some pretty horrible things to some truly undeserving people - and the film does not shy away from depicting that reality.

Although, on the surface, the film seems like just another in a long line of sordid crime dramas involving crack heads, dope fiends and armed-to-the-teeth ghetto gangstas, "Never Die Alone," perhaps because it is willing to hold nothing back in what it chooses to show us, has a certain ring of truth about it. Whatever the reason, "Never Die Alone" is a cut above the average.
Interesting concept ......5/10
.....but it just misses the mark here. I have been a fan of Donald Goines novels since I was a teen. I have often wondered why so-called gangsta rappers of our generation have glorified fictional icons like Scarface (Al Pacino) when there are better real life examples of hardcore gangstas like Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim who wrote about their turbulent lifestyles in graphic, candid detail in several real-life novels. When I heard about NDA I was excited that maybe someone had finally picked up the ball. Too bad this film falls just short of the mark. It tries very hard to lock onto a theme but comes across as disjointed and rambling. DMX aka Earl Simmons produced, as well as, starred in this flick. DMX's gruff demeanor is well suited for the Donald Goines anti-heros, but he needs to work on the acting skillz a bit. A very good supporting cast of known and not-so-well known actors. All in all I would say that this film is just a small step above the flick Belly -- just a little more violent and very crude. 2 out of 5 stars.