Release Date: September 14, 1990
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Patrick
Kilpatrick, George Dickerson,
Art LaFleur, & Robert
Genre: Humanistic prison/action
Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: Deran Sarafian
Producer: Mark DiSalle
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Instead, Burke has been selected by a special gubernatorial task force led by Attorney General Volger as the most likely candidate to infiltrate Harrison Penitentiary to investigate a series of unexplained prison deaths. Immediately inside the prison, Burke begins to unravel the mystery and passes the information along to Miss Beckett, a police liaison posing as his wife.
Burke encounters sadistic prison guard DeGraf and seasoned inmate Hawkins, both of whom warn Burke he'll live longer if he minds his own business. Burke befriends Hawkins and with his help makes the horrifying discovery that DeGraf and the prison's doctor head a death squad who kill inmates for their healthy vital organs, which are smuggled to South America and sold to waiting transplant patients.
Beckett, meanwhile, enlists the aid of a pre-pubescent computer hacker (who utters obscenities and lusts after her) to access the prison files of the murder victims. Then, she learns that Volger, the Attorney General, started the whole organs-for-cash scam for his wife who needed a liver.
Back at prison, Burke again confronts the Sandman, whom Volger has transferred there to kill Burke. Before a cheering prison crowd, Burke takes quite a beating as he tries to finish off this demonized, superhuman, seemingly indestructible foe, who is able to withstand being thrown into a blast furnace, several rounds of ammunition, and an impaling, before succumbing to a neck-breaking.
The acts of violence, in fact, are upwards of 100, as Burke uses everything from brooms to barbels to beat his assailants senseless. Who would find this entertaining? The corruption and brutality rivals that of the most heinous street crimes. One inmate runs a harem. Another is doused with gasoline and set on fire.
Is there anything good to say about DEATH WARRANT? Well, the somber music does help to build suspense, while misty blues and hazy orange hues lend an eerie quality to scenes in which the camera glides in and out of cells and down long corridors. The story moves swiftly, characters have depth, and the martial-arts fighting is impressive.
However, the elements of substance, not style, are what condemn the film. Elements like: violent murder, racial hatred, crude innuendo, lewd joking, implied fornication and prostitution, brief male nudity, and filthy talk. Please do not subject yourself to this kind of torture.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please address your comments to:
David Forbes President
MGM/UA Distribution Co.
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