Terrible Thursday: Death Warrant

Bring me a dream Burke, bring me a dream.

Director: Deran Sarafian

Starring: Jean Claude Van Damme, Cynthia Gibb


Synopsis: Van Damme plays Burke, a Canadian policeman who takes the assignment to infiltrate a prison where prisoners have been dropping like flies. When Burke gets in the prison he finds that things are not what they seem, with evil guards, doctors covering up strange happenings and an illegal underground transsexual prostitution ring. And worst of all is the Sandman, Burke’s arch nemesis from his time on the beat.

Why it fails as a movie: You really should not expect too much logic from a Van Damme action movie, but Death Warrant is almost insulting with how much it expects the audience to accept. For example (and spoilers, so if you really don’t want this movie ruined stop reading) Burke finds out later on that the police chief is behind the deaths in the prison and is harvesting the organs of prisoners. But this is the same police chief who sent Burke into the prison in the first place to investigate the disappearances. If you don’t want anybody to find out about your organ harvesting, don’t send in your own cops to investigate it! And that is just one of many logical gaps in this movie. Beyond that, Death Proof does end up kind of boring for a Van Damme action movie. A good portion of the film is spent with Burke investigating the strange occurrences of the prison, but those scenes are not compelling at all. This is further compounded by Van Damme’s lack of on screen charisma and his obvious lack struggle with the English language. Maybe the director was hoping that by making Burke a Canadian people would just pass off his inability to speak coherent English as a Canadian accent?

Should you watch it?: Death Warrant is not prime bad movie material, but if you are into the genre of late 80s- early 90s action movies, this is perfect canon. It has a classic action star and pretty good fight choreography in service of an effervescent plot. There are also little gems scattered throughout the movie that makes it fun to watch. The above mentioned transsexual prostituting ring is fun only for its over the top ridiculousness. The final fight behind Burke and Sandman is pretty fun. But, there is a lot of really slow down time between the good scenes, so it is not really consistently entertaining. What is most frustrating is that the director never makes the prison setting very interesting, settling for just a couple of throwaway prison rape jokes which is basically scraping the bottom of the barely. Like I said, if you are into this genre, go for it, but otherwise you could do better.

Rating as a real movie: 5/10

Rating as a bad movie: 6/10



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