Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Stylish drug pusher King David has returned to Los Angeles to find redemption. In opening narration, he says, “In order to be truly redeemed, a man has to own up to his responsibilities.” He has dictated his life story onto a series of tapes, which wind up in the hands of a writer wannabe, Paul, who is determined to get King David’s confessional out to the public.

It’s a grim story. King David has ruined the lives of countless people by getting them addicted to his product (the film focuses on two women). He has murdered. He has lived an empty, hedonistic life. And upon his return to LA, he finds, not redemption, but ruin—in the form of a switchblade in the gut.

Director Ernest Dickerson makes no attempt to hide the fact that the lead character winds up dead; the movie opens with him laid out in an expensive coffin, whereupon he narrates the story from the grave. He says, ruefully, that if he’d known it would end this way, he’d have done things differently. No kidding. The movie tells the story of the last two days of his life and how he winds up in that gutter, bleeding to death.

Positive Elements

This is a complex tale, weaving together several plotlines involving greed and revenge that all aptly illustrate this bit of biblical wisdom: the wages of sin is death. I have no doubt that this film's makers had good intentions. But theatergoers have to wade through so much vile swill to get to that moral lesson that by the time they make it there, it doesn't mean much anymore. For example, a woman chastises a man, “This is not a rap video or a Quentin Tarantino movie; this is real life!” Her words are then swiftly undermined by the movie’s presentation of a glorified gangsta lifestyle and stylized violence.

Spiritual Content

There are a lot of biblical allusions in this movie. One character, a white man, rushes a dying black man to the hospital after other black men have denied him help. The man then tells the hospital workers that he’ll make sure any bills are paid, an act reminiscent of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. There are a few visual allusions to heaven and hell, too.

I suspect that naming the lead character King David is meant as a hint at the biblical man who sinned and repented, but it should be noted that unlike the Old Testament "man after God's own heart," the movie’s King David seems more afraid of payback and bad karma. It certainly wasn't the cinematic David who confessed to God, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:3-4).

As narrator, King David says, “We reap what we sow” and “The Lord takes care of fools and babies.” A character gets in his car and in one move places a Bible on the passenger seat and a gun in the glove box. One man wears a large gold crucifix, while another wears a Star of David around his neck.

Sexual Content

Three gratingly gratuitous sex scenes include rear male nudity, explicit motion and implications of oral stimulation. A crime kingpin has women hanging on him all the time, and in one scene he sits in a hot tub with two scantily clad women. One character horns in on women sunbathing in bikinis. A scene takes place in a brothel, where a prostitute dressed as a nurse leads a nearly naked man in playing “doctor.” Obscene references are made to genitalia. The f-word is used in a sexual context.

King David finds a woman appealing because she’s “uncorrupted”; on their first date, the woman’s mother accompanies them as a chaperone. Once he has the woman’s attention, though, he promptly sets about debasing her.

Violent Content

Frequent and intense. A minor drug dealer kicks a man on the floor until blood comes from his mouth, nose and ears. A man is stabbed with a switchblade; he in turn stabs his attacker with an ice pick. A gunfight in a parking garage shows blood splattering across windshields and spraying from victims. A woman's body is blown several feet through the air by a shotgun blast. (That scene is repeated several times in flashback.) The camera lingers on her bloody abdomen. A junkie is slapped and kicked, and when her son comes to her defense, the attacker smashes a bottle across his head. A bodyguard is kicked violently in the head. A man is shot while sitting in a hot tub. A drug dealer murders people by scraping the white, acidic corrosion off a car battery and giving it to them as if it was heroin. (A character dies after unknowingly injecting herself with it; her body shakes violently, and she foams at the mouth.) A man slaps his sister across the face. A drug dealer opens a secret door behind which he has an arsenal seemingly big enough to outfit an infantry platoon.

Crude or Profane Language

The f-word is used close to 100 times; the s-word half that many times. Black men toss around the n-word. Vietnamese drug dealers are called “dirty gooks.” Women are frequently referred to as "b--ches." God’s name is abused many times (mostly "g--d---").

Drug and Alcohol Content

Well, it’s a movie about drug dealers. It includes at least five scenes of people snorting cocaine. Two scenes of a person preparing and then injecting heroin. And several scenes of people ordering mixed drinks or beer at bars. At a dinner, two characters drink champagne, but another refuses it, saying she doesn’t drink. Cigarettes and cigars make frequent appearances.

A woman finds cocaine in her boyfriend’s house. She looks shocked and disappointed at first, but then she asks if she can try some. There are two scenes of junkies suffering drug withdrawal symptoms.

Other Negative Elements

Viewers see a man sitting on a toilet and a woman vomiting into a toilet. A character likens being in love to weakness. A bartender and parking lot attendant are bribed to break the rules. In a hugely implausible segment, a dying man tells an emergency room worker to give his Good Samaritan all his gold jewelry, money and the title to his car. (He apparently happened to have it in his pocket.) The hospital worker demands a kickback from that Good Samaritan, though, to keep from telling the cops.


Every onscreen adult male is corrupt to one degree or another. I think some of this corruption, hostility and hypersensitivity to every perceived insult or slight is a result of being raised in an environment with few male role models and in which fathers raising their children are the exception. The characters (and much of the gangsta culture) are the result of boys not being shown how to be men and, upon reaching adulthood, trying to prove their manhood the only way they know how: by bedding every woman they can, by defending their honor with violence, by open hostility to any perceived rival and, most of all, by looking out only for No. 1.

But it's the religious overtones that makes for more interesting conversation, even though there is some theological confusion in the attempt. After depriving King David of a decent burial by pocketing the money for his expensive internment, keeping the fancy coffin and placing his body in a cardboard box, the funeral director sends him into the crematorium. As flames consume the box, King David’s last words are, “I wonder what waits for me on the other side.” That is juxtaposed with another character who, having exacted his revenge upon David, drives through a tunnel toward the bright white light beyond it—an apparent allusion to heading for heaven. So I'm left to wonder, which one is redeemed? Does King David's death serve as atonement for his wicked life? Is his rival's retribution an act of righteous punishment? Or are they both simply doomed by their own doing?

African-American film director Spike Lee has said he is fed up with the entire gangsta and hip-hop culture, decrying its negative portrayal of blacks and the negative role models it shows. But Never Die Alone may not be exactly what he's hoping for. Even though Ernest Dickerson apparently wanted his movie to be an object lesson—a wages of sin story—it ends up becoming more of a study of the effects of several social pathologies. King David says, “Life caught up with me before I got a chance to turn the corner.” From what we see of the last two days of his life, however, I’m not sure what corner he’s talking about. Moreover, the “responsibilities” he should own up to are unclear. And despite declaring his wish to change, he still seems to enjoy his gangsta image and lifestyle.

The filmmakers get an A for intent but an F for execution.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range





DMX as King David; David Arquette as Paul; Michael Ealy as Michael; Clifton Powell as Moon; Reagan Gomez-Preston as Juanita


Ernest Dickerson ( )


Fox Searchlight



Record Label



In Theaters

On Video

Year Published



Tom Neven

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!