Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Deran Sarafian|
|Produced by||Mark DiSalle|
|Written by||David S. Goyer|
|Starring||Jean-Claude Van Damme
as 'The Sandman'
Joshua John Miller
Abdul Salaam El Razzac
|Music by||Gary Chang|
|Edited by||John A. Barton
G. Gregg McLaughlin
|Release date(s)||September 14, 1990|
|Running time||89 minutes|
Death Warrant is a 1990 action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film was written by David S. Goyer while a student at USC, and was Goyer's first screenplay to be sold and produced commercially.
Detective Louis Burke (Jean-Claude Van Damme), confronts the maniac that killed his partner on the force. The villain - called the Sandman (Patrick Kilpatrick) is tracked down to an abandoned house. Although the Sandman nearly kills him, Burke is able to shoot the Sandman several times.
Sixteen months later, Burke joins a task force put together by the governor to investigate a series of unexplained deaths in the Harrison State Prison in California. While Burke poses as an inmate, attorney Amanda Beckett (Cynthia Gibb) acts the role of his wife. Burke and Beckett don't care for each other much in the beginning.
In the penitentiary, Burke is forced to survive in a dismal and dangerous environment. Even though he is surrounded by hostility and suspicion, Burke succeeds in befriending a few of the inmates, including his cellmate Konefke (Conrad Dunn), Hawkins (Robert Guillaume) and Priest (Abdul Salaam El Razzac), who help him with the investigation. It is later revealed that the prisoners are being murdered for their body organs.
Meanwhile, more inmates are mysteriously murdered with one being set on fire in his own cell for giving Burke information about the murders and also Konefke is killed, and stone-faced prison guard DeGraff (Art LaFleur) puts Burke in solitary confinement, where he's interrogated and beaten. Burke is then released upon a visit from Beckett, the two are taken to a trailer for a private discussion but end up in a passionate embrace. Afterwards back in the prison Burke inquires about the sudden interest his fellow prisoners are taking in one particular new prisoner who is entering the grounds. Much to Burke's surprise it turns out to be The Sandman and surprise turns to horror as he believed he had killed him 16 months earlier. The Sandman then kidnaps Burke and tortures him and then it is revealed to the prisoners and the guards that he is really a cop and his fight for survival begins.
Beckett attends a party hosted by Tom Vogler (George Dickerson), the state's attorney general. Just as she's preparing to tell him about the murders at the prison, who she believes Ben Keane (Jack Bannon) is responsible, she then receives a call from Tisdale (Joshua John Miller), Burke's adolescent computer hacker assistant who has been helping Beckett gain information from the prison files, who identifies Vogler as the man behind the murders, which also involve Dr. Gottesman (Armin Shimerman), the surgeon who harvests the organs to be sold to people who are in desperate need of them.
The assistant's suspicions are confirmed when Vogler then explains his motives and also reveals he had The Sandman transferred to the prison to kill Burke. Volger then tries to kill Beckett. She escapes only by the grace of Vogler's wife entering the room, but not before saying to him, "Tell her how you murdered for her", as Vogler's own wife was a recipient of a liver harvested from his business.
Burke begins an escape from the penitentiary, pursued by DeGraff, the Sandman and hundreds of angry inmates, Gottesman is cornered by the inmates, while DeGraff tries to finish off Hawkins, only to be shot from behind by Priest.
Burke and the Sandman have a final, brutal showdown. The Sandman uses brutal force to watch Burke suffer. Burke gets the upper hand and kicks The Sandman into a lit furnace but survives with minor burns. Then Burke kicks the Sandman again and impales his head onto a spike, Sandman taunts him by saying he cannot be killed. Burke grabs his jaw and pushes it further into the spike killing him. Burke leaves and then the inmates allow him to pass and respect him for his brave act. Burke is greeted by Beckett, along with Hawkins who is taken to hospital via ambulance due to a gunshot wound.
- Jean-Claude Van Damme – Louis Burke
- Robert Guillaume – Hawkins
- Cynthia Gibb – Amanda Beckett
- George Dickerson – Tom Vogler
- Art LaFleur – Sergeant DeGraf
- Patrick Kilpatrick – Christian 'The Sandman' Naylor
- Joshua John Miller – Douglas Tisdale
- Hank Stone – Romaker
- Conrad Dunn – Konefke
The movie debuted strongly at the box office at No.3.
- "Credits". BFI Film & Television Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- "Death Warrant". BFI Film & Television Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- Pat H. Broeske. "Postcards Takes No. 1 at Box Office Movies: Mother-daughter comedy sales hit $8.1 million. Paramount's `Ghost' is in second place on $5.8 million in sales.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01.