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Reviewed October 15th, 2002 by David Nusair


Being a Jean-Claude Van Damme fan is a dangerous proposition. He keeps churning out flicks, even though itís been a good long while since one of them managed to premiere in a movie theater rather than on home video. And for the most part, heís managed to offer up some decent movies made on increasingly low budgets (last yearís Replicant, for example). But with Derailed, Van Damme comes perilously close to the bottom of the barrel (heís already been there, with Knock Off, and itís doubtful heíll ever do worse than that).

Derailed casts Van Damme as Jacques Kristoff (no, really), a commando of sorts who works on a freelance basis. His latest mission requires him to recover a stolen package containing a hefty dose of small pox, a deadly disease thatís virtually been wiped out. After hooking up with Galina (Laura Elena Harring), a woman that knows the terrorists responsible for the robbery, Jacques locates the package aboard a train. What ensues shouldíve been a fun Die Hard ripoff, along the lines of Passenger 57, but instead winds up an overblown mess of cliches and bad direction.

I canít fault Van Damme, though. In Derailed, he gives virtually the exact same performance he always does Ė though Jacques is slightly happier than the majority of his past characters (Van Damme often plays bitter and depressed men whoíve lost something). The brunt of the blame instead falls to the director, Bob Misiorowski. Itís clear that Misiorowski is a film fan, because he throws in virtually every single visual trick ever committed to celluloid. Slow-motion, instant replays, grainy footage Ė itís all here, and completely distracting. Misiorowski, working with an incredibly low-budget (which Derailed clearly has Ė check out the ultra-fake train crash late in the picture that seems as though itíd be more at home in a Godzilla movie), just doesnít have the skill required to employ these various tricks (De Palma heís not). And his rampant overuse becomes far more distracting than anything else, turning Derailed into an overblown annoyance.

If it hadnít been for the disastrous direction, other subpar aspects of the film would have been easier to overlook. But as it is, the idiotic storyline, poor acting amongst everyone that isnít Van Damme, and stunts that are just ridiculous (Van Dammeís motorcycle ride atop the rapidly-moving train has to be seen to be believed), derail Derailed almost as soon as it starts.

Audio: Derailed comes equipped with a DD 5.1 soundtrack, and itís more impressive than the feature. Sounds emanate from all angles, with the sparse dialogue always clear Ė which it has to be, since Artisan has seen fit to yet again not include English subtitles. Whatís up with that?

Video: This anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is pretty decent, though there is some grain Ė which is most likely due to the extremely low budget. And the special effects sequences stand out like a sore thumb, because they have a completely different look than the rest of the film. Still, the transfer itself is clean and crisp.

Extras: Thereís a 10-minute featurette on the making of the movie, which details the special effects mostly. Itís kind of interesting, and mercifully short. Thereís also a trailer.

Conclusion: Derailed is an extremely poor action flick. Skip it 4


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