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Worth A Look: 6.25%
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Total Crap: 6.25%

1 review, 10 user ratings

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Better Way to Die, A
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by Cochise

"Don't miss this excellent action thriller."
5 stars

“A Better Way to Die,” written and directed by Scott Wiper, is an action thriller with a difference, and I believe it will become a cult classic. It is a must see for fans of this genre. Now, I’m not saying that this film is Academy Award material, but it is put together in such a clever and realistic way that it will be remembered long after the trite thrillers are gone and forgotten.

In a good film the characters should have a past which affects their behavior. This is the ideal that James Cameron sets when he states, “The process of writing a good script is the process of creating characters that have complete lives that have complete pasts and that everything that they do within the confines of the two hour piece is determined by everything that went before that.” (Cameron, James, “Terminator II Special Edition, Region 1, 2nd featurette: “T2 More Than Meets the Eye,” – approximately 1 minute 45 seconds.) The characters in “A Better Way to Die” meets Cameron’s criteria very well.

Characters within a film should change and develop in some way, be it for better or worse, and the characters in “A Better Way to Die” do this. However, it is in these character arcs that the film could have done better. That is, the characters do change, but they do not change significantly. They don't change three-dimensionally, only two-dimensionally. (However, in spite of this, the characters are much more real and believable than the stereotypical characters you see in a lot of action thrillers.)

The film takes several of the characters on an inner journey and the meaning of the film lies in the consequences of that journey. I don’t want to say any more than this as the director explains in his commentary what the journey is about. But a hint: salvation and redemption play a part in the journey.

The director takes some of the usual stereotypes and turns them around in unexpected ways. For example, one character in particular (a cop) is introduced in the same trite way as a lot of main characters in action thrillers, but this is only to set the audience up for an unexpected surprise from that character in the end.

The story is violent, but what makes this film different is the characters’ reactions to that violence. There are no smart one-liners and similar comments made when someone kills a person.

The director is relatively unknown but he uses some high profile actors. (Andre Brauger, Joe Pantoliano, and Lou Diamond Phillips) Their professionalism, combined with an excellent script are a brilliant combination.

The DVD version of this film is the one to see. The director’s commentary gives a deep insight into his concept of the film. The director plays the part of the hero, so his comments as an actor are very interesting. Also, as he is the writer, he explains what he feels is the meaning and purpose of the story. One fascinating aspect he discusses is his use of landscape and color as a symbolic tool. The director also tells us that the film is a low budget film and describes how he had to use film school techniques as well as guerrilla-filming methods.
The DVD has reasonable sound (there is not a lot of sub-woofer used). However, I did not find this a problem as the film is solidly character-based, and does not need spectacular pyrotechnics. The region 4 DVD has only one real extra, which is the audio commentary. However, the audio commentary is so outstanding, that the lack of any other special features do not matter. The region 1 DVD isn’t really much better.

This film raises itself above the limitations of the genre. You will miss an excellent movie-going experience if you do not see it.

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originally posted: 05/31/01 19:07:38
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User Comments

6/05/06 umar excellent 5 stars
8/19/05 Bayan excelent 5 stars
5/11/03 shawn yu its fuckign awsome 5 stars
12/16/02 kris a very well directed thriller with good dialogue 5 stars
5/24/02 Ricky Werth (again) I forgot to mention that Scott Wiper is the HOTTEST male in Hollywood. He's GEORGOUS! 5 stars
12/28/01 Mike Foster It Rocks....cocksucker. 5 stars
9/05/01 Ricky Werth THE FILM IS SO AWESOME. The story was great. 5 stars
8/07/01 Matthew Harp Aside for the coincidences, it's an above-average film. 4 stars
8/05/01 Joachim Domrath Gréat Action Movie with different character and a sense of humor. Superb actors and camera. 5 stars
6/03/01 chiz I've never seen it-- but I don't like it 1 stars
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  02-Jun-2000 (R)



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