Saturday, 23 June 2018

June-Claude Van Damme: Derailed (2002)

And so it has come to this at last, the film that I deem the very worst yet in the filmography of Jean-Claude Camille Fran├žois Van Varenberg. There are still a couple of his films that I have never seen, at this moment, but I cannot imagine anything worse than this. Just how bad is it? Well it feels as if it was originally created as a vehicle for Steven Seagal. Not prime Seagal, no, but the Seagal of today. It's THAT bad.

Yet it still manages to avoid the very lowest rating possible, mainly because I have a soft spot for both Van Damme and Laura Harting, who at least has a sizable role here.

The plot sees JCVD meeting up with Harring and escorting her on a train journey. Going along with them is a batch of a nasty viral weapon, a very dangerous strain of smallpox, that has to be kept safe. Harting stole it, some baddies want it, action thriller hijinks ensue.

It's easy to pin down what doesn't work here because there is pretty much nothing that works. From the script to direction, this is a film almost farcical in how slapdash and cheap the whole thing feels. The motivation for the characters never feels anywhere close to plausible, things are overly complicated at times when a simpler approach would have worked better, and I should mention that the the writers, Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch, also decide to get Van Damme's family (wife and children, with his onscreen son played by one of his actual children, Kristopher Van Varenberg) on board the dangerous train. That is the sort of thing that might prove amusing in some of the other scripts that Anderson and Gierasch have written, including some fun creature features, but it feels far too contrived here.

Director Bob Misiorowski has, unsurprisingly, not directed any other movie after this one. Considering the lack of skill on display here, I can only be thankful that he's yet to find another idea he wants to turn into an ugly mess. Had it not been for the presence of the two leads here, this would be a film without any redeemable qualities. Visuals, score, special effects, all are poor. In fact, some of the special effects and stunt sequences in the second half of the film are SO bad that you would be forgiven for thinking that you were watching some spoof co-created by the Zucker brothers. I defy anyone to watch the moment that features Van Damme riding a bike across the top of the train and tell me that they believed it was really happening. I made more realistic set-pieces when I was a child playing with my Action Man figures.

Nobody else in the cast is too recognisable so I won't bother listing them here. Tomas Arana plays the villain of the piece, and does so on a par with many of the other supporting players, sadly. Susan Gibney is a little better, playing Van Damme's wife, but, bearing in mind that it's better to say nothing at all if you cannot say anything nice, I won't comment on anyone else.

If this wasn't a Van Damme movie then I would never have checked it out. If Laura Harring hadn't been his co-star then I probably wouldn't have made it beyond the first 10 minutes. Not recommended. Not recommended at all. You could say that the title was picked as much for the state of Van Damme's career as it was for the relevance to the plot.


Brave souls can buy it here.
Brave American souls can buy it here.

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