A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Welcome to Sudden Death is a 2020 action movie in which Michael Jai White plays a basketball arena security guard who must stop a group of terrorists from blowing it up. It's a stand-alone sequel to the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Sudden Death. There's constant violence throughout the movie -- characters shot and killed, a character who puts a gun to her head and pulls the trigger, martial arts violence, some blood. A character dies after falling backwards and breaking his neck on a barbell. Bombs are set to detonate throughout a crowded basketball arena, and characters are taken hostage. In a flashback scene, the lead character is a prisoner of war getting tortured via electrocution. Regular profanity, including "f--k" and its variations used a few times. Other language includes "s--t," "dips--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "bitch," "bitch-ass," "piss," "badass," and "hell." Champagne drinking. Racial diversity in the cast. Expect a predictable action movie with unbelievably bad dialogue.
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What's the story?
In WELCOME TO SUDDEN DEATH, Jesse (Michael Jai White) is a former Special Forces officer who's now trying to settle down with his wife and two kids, starting a new job as a security guard in a basketball arena. It's the finals today at the Odyssey Arena, and Jesse brings his two kids, Mara and Ryan, to see the big game. It's a packed house, with many VIPs, including the governor, the mayor, the billionaire owner of the team, and her hip-hop star boyfriend. As the game starts, a group of terrorists, led by a man known simply as "Alpha," break into the owner's suite where the VIPs are watching the game and take them hostage. Meanwhile, Alpha's team, dressed like security guards, kill the actual security guards, and set up bombs throughout the arena. Alpha and his team want the billionaire's money, and as they wait for the wire transfer to complete, the game continues. Jesse soon suspects the worst, and after confronting then defeating some of these fake security guards, he learns of Alpha's plot to steal the owner's money and leave before the arena blows up. He also learns that Mara has also been taken hostage. With help from the gregarious janitor Gus, Jesse must find each bomb and detonate it, and then he must find Alpha and stop him before it's too late.
Is it any good?
If your answer is "Yes!" to the never-asked question, "Should there be a stand-alone sequel to Sudden Death, 25 years later?", then Welcome to Sudden Death is the movie for you. It's almost the same movie, only basketball instead of hockey, and Michael Jai White instead of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Only now, the cliches and bad dialogue that were at least good for mindless entertainment in the 1990s are so played out, one can't be blamed for experiencing deja vu while watching this. The dialogue is excruciatingly bad. The characters are one-dimensional, and even that's pushing it. The bad guy is named "Alpha," and his team of other bad guys and ladies answer to other code names inspired by the letters of the Greek alphabet. The bad guy's trademark move is to constantly wipe his nose, despite no other evidence of either a cold or cocaine addiction.
There are attempts at humor that fail to sound like something from any of the Bad Boys movies. The conclusion of the basketball game going on in the background is more interesting than the direct action of the movie. Admittedly, many of the fight scenes are entertaining, but it's impossible to tune out everything else that simply isn't working in this movie. Also, not to nitpick, but unlike in hockey, there's no sudden death overtime in pro basketball, which eliminates the play on words of the title, but that's the least of the problems here.
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