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Never Die Alone

Promotional poster for Never Die Alone
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Produced by Alessandro Camon
Written by James Gibson (screenplay)
Narrated by DMX
Starring DMX
David Arquette
Music by George Duke
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Editing by Stephen Lovejoy
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) March 26, 2004
Running time 88 min.
Country USA
Language English

Never Die Alone is a 2004 crime thriller/drama film, directed by Ernest R. Dickerson. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, written by Donald Goines.



Hardened criminal and drug dealer King David (played by DMX) is returning to New York, where he can find redemption by settling an old score with drug lord Moon (played by Clifton Powell) and always talking about a woman named Edna. As David walks through New York, he meets up with old acquaintances and momentarily passes by Paul (David Arquette), a failing journalist.

Michael (Michael Ealy) is assigned to collect Moon's money from David, appearing to be very interested in him for some reason. He, Blue (Antwon Tanner) and his sister go to David and collect the money. Michael stabs David when the former asks the latter does he know who he is. David stabs Blue in the eye with an ice pick before they abandon him (King David) in a gutter. Paul, who was passing by at that moment, drives David, a total stranger, to the hospital.

Paul is informed that King has died and has left him all his personal possessions. The items include jewelry, his car (which is a rare Stutz Blackhawk), and a collection of audio tapes. The tapes turn out to be the audio journal of his life that was recorded on the drive from Los Angeles to New York. Meanwhile, Moon tells Michael to bring everyone to a parking garage, where Blue and Michael's sister are killed. Michael kills the henchmen and goes to take revenge on Moon.

By listening to the journal, the story of David's life is told: after a particularly bad drug experience in the east, David returned to the west in search of a second chance. He finds assistance with the Vietnamese and even a new girlfriend, Janet (Jennifer Sky). A television star, she turns to David's heroin and becomes sick and detached in the process. David abandons her as she presumably turns to selling his drugs to pay the bills and for her drug habit.

In the present, Mike and Moon hunt down each other. Additionally, word of a white man that accompanied David to the hospital gets out, and Moon starts to hunt him down as well. Paul, meanwhile, listens some more: after Janet, David moved on to Juanita (Reagan Gomez-Preston), a college girl with a lot of talent. Their relationship goes well as David starts to make a lot of money, but then Juanita tries his drugs. She doesn't get addicted, but she does turn out to be very selfish by refusing to move in with David, insisting that $250,000 isn't enough on which to retire. Angry, David secretly switches her cocaine with heroin, getting her addicted.

Paul realizes that the money David talked about might be in David's trunk. It is, but at the same time, Moon's henchman are sprawling all over New York in search of him. Michael finally hunts down Moon and kills him when he is in the tub with two blonde women.

Back with Paul, he listens to the last tape: David leaves Juanita, but she soon comes back, addicted to heroin and begging for help. He agrees to help her out in exchange for painful anal anal sex. The act brings down her dreams and causes her severe emotional distress, thus making her addictions even stronger. After a while, she demands that he pay for her entrance to rehabilation or else she'll call the police.

Enraged, David decides to do the same thing he did to Edna: mix her heroin with car battery acid, resulting in a fatal seizure for her. Through a flashback, it is revealed that David is the father of Michael, who is also Edna's child, and that David brutally hit him before poisoning Edna. The tape ends with David speculating on how his return to New York will bring about his redemption with Moon and tie the loose end with Edna's child.

At this point, Paul is found by Moon's henchmen, but Michael arrives and kills them. Paul tells Michael that King is his father and Michael was visibly upset by this information. As the police arrive, Paul flees on foot and Michael takes David's car. Shortly afterward, Paul writes a story based on that night, titled "Never Die Alone." David is cremated soon after. His narration focuses on the end of his life and how fate had such a powerful effect on not only his life but also on the lives of Paul, Michael, Edna, Juanita, Moon, and everyone else. Meanwhile, Michael has escaped without capture and drives off into a white tunnel.


Critical response

The film was unsuccessful upon critical reaction. Scoring a 26% "Rotten" rating at website Rotten Tomatoes, most critics panned it as a trashy, pretentious look at a life of drug abuse and violence. However, a number of critics found more value in the film, most notably the acting performances. Movie critic Roger Ebert awarded the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, praising it as "an ambitious, introspective movie."[1]

Box office performance

Any hope that the film would fare better financially were dashed, as the film opened to just $3.0 million at 1,160 theaters (The per-theater average was an unimpressive $2,663). It later went on to gross just $5.6 million by the end of its run. The film is widely considered to be a failure, though others refer to it as a cult film.



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