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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Retro Review: Death Warrant (1990)

Death Warrant
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Robert Guillaume, Cynthia Gibb, Patrick Kilpatrick
Genre: Action Crime Mystery Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $16 million 

Plot: An undercover cop investigates murder and mayhem in a prison where kickboxing comes in handy

'A Warrant Ought To Be Issued For The Lack Of Good Action Scenes'

A version of Lock Up starring Sylvester Stallone but with the Muscles From Brussels in place of Sly, Death Warrant underwhelms as an action film and is also compounded by a lethargic and uninviting story that does nothing to engage or stoke up excitement. 

Jean-Claude Van Damme is Louis Burke: a Canadian cop who is sent undercover to a prison to probe a series of murders that take place, which is run by corrupt wardens & getting to the bottom of who is responsible. 

Death Warrant is submerged in what appears to be a drab script that is devoid of genuine action and fight scenes that can rival many other popular 1980s and 1990s action movies. As a Van Damme effort, this is far weaker and blander than Hard Target (still my favourite film of his), Time Cop, Kickboxer and Double Impact 

Cynthia Gibb from the Fame TV show looks out of place and is miscast as the attorney general liaison who acts as Burke's partner and her and Van Damme have the love chemistry of a wet fish. 

The gay stereotypes are poor, there are some bland characters on show, such as the computer geek and the dialogue comes off as not being good and there are no memorable lines. Surprisingly penned by David S. Goyer, he later went on to write Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Blade trilogy of movies & Batman Begins & The Dark Knight, which all became box office smashes. 

The film does get better halfway after the 50 min mark, but even with that, you don't get to see Van Damme unleash his moves and high-flying kicks. He does a few spin-kicks, but that is as much as you will see from him, which is unfortunate. The fight scenes look artificial and rather stilted and given as Van Damme doesn't go all out, it easily shows - although there is a case where the film chooses to cut and edit down his moves, much to its and Van Damme's disadvantage.  

Final Verdict:

This is not the explosive action fest I have come to expect out of a Van Damme movie, and there are certainly not enough action scenes to make it worthwhile. 

Lock Up and the Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger effort, Escape Plan, which has almost a similar plot, is way better than this film. At least with the latter, you get two heads for the price of one and plus, it's unintentionally fun. 

Whereas Death Warrant isn't - in fact, it underwhelms, and it should have been so much better. 


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