Welcome To Sudden Death Kicks Its Way Onto Netflix

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Welcome To Sudden Death Kicks Its Way Onto Netflix

Written By Matthew Sadowski

Welcome to Sudden Death intended to amuse me, and in that it succeeded. Did it elevate the possibilities of cinematography? No. Did it reveal the power that subtle dialogue can give to an action movie? No. Did it make me forget the campy action nonsense that star Michael Jai White’s other movie, Black Dynamite, so brilliantly parodied? No. But darn it, I liked it.

HustleTV Welcome To Sudden Death Kicks Its Way Onto Netflix DJ Hustle

The movie stars martial arts extraordinaire Michael Jai White as Jesse, a former special ops soldier now working security at The Odyssey Arena, a high-tech sports center owned by “billionaire genius” Diana Smarts (Sabryn Rock). Jesse brings his two kids to work to see the big basketball season opener, which, of course, becomes the center of a diabolical terrorist plot run by ex-CIA guy Alpha (Michael Eklund). Alpha takes Smarts and some other important people hostage, Jesse’s daughter Mara (Nakai Takawira) gets captured too, and Jesse teams up with his hopelessly dorky coworker Gus (Gary Owen) to take down the bad guys. 

Ultimately, this is a movie whose plot is merely a framing device for Michael Jai White to show off his martial arts skills, and that is not a bad thing to showcase. White is clearly in as good shape as ever (he begins and ends the movie shirtless), and his character spends half of the film’s fights visibly annoyed that henchmen would be so stupid as to challenge him by themselves. “Stop,” he tells one overconfident crook before dispatching him easily. When another lone bad guy snarls “You’re gonna die,” White’s Jesse just pushes his face into a wall a few times. 

HustleTV Welcome To Sudden Death Kicks Its Way Onto Netflix DJ Hustle

The side characters keep the interludes between fights fun, with Eklund clearly enjoying playing a terrorist leader who oozes self-seriousness to the point of parody and Owen’s dim-witted Gus, whose penchant for stating the obvious becoming a meta-commentary of sorts. It may have been unintentional, but Jesse’s son Ryan’s (Lyric Justice) strict interpretation of “do not leave your seat” leads to one of the best visual gags of the film.  I cannot recommend that this movie is for date-night, pizza-night, or even popcorn-night. However, I can give it one of the greatest honors a moviegoer can give to a movie that wanted to be fun: Welcome to Sudden Death was fun.

Welcome to Sudden Death

Directed by: Dallas Jackson

Starring: Michael Jai White, Michael Eklund, Sabryn Rock, Gary Owen, Nakai Takawira 

2020

81 minutes

Streaming on: Netflix

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