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The ever-limber Jean-Claude Van Damme stars in the entertainingly over-the-top action flick Derailed. The plot has to do with a deadly virus on a runaway train, but that's hardly the point--what makes the movie fly along is the ridiculous yet entirely enjoyable escalation of plot devices: not only is Van Damme on the train to protect a beautiful high-tech thief (Laura Elena Harring, Mulholland Drive), not only is the train hijacked by terrorists, not only is the virus actually released into the train's ventilation system, not only is the engine on fire, but Van Damme's family came on board to surprise him on his birthday and are now being used as pawns by the terrorists. Derailed is also loaded with spectacle: car chases, shootouts, explosions, a train collision, hand-to-hand combat, and Van Damme riding a motorcycle on top of the train--you really couldn't ask for more. Sheer trashy fun. --Bret Fetzer
- Behind-the-scenes featurette
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The story finds a government female operative stealing a small package containing highly contagious viles of small pox.She gets into trouble and Van Damme is called to extract her successfully from the country she is in.He gets there and he just barely manages to get her out....by train.However there are other baddies also looking for the vials,and at the train's first stop they all climb aboard.To make the situation more awkward Van Damme's wife and two children surprise him,as she walks in on he and his "client".It is his birthday after all.The wife is now miffed, and with her nose firmly out of joint she and her children retire to another part of the train.
The baddies soon get their act in order and finally take over the train,looking for Van Damme's charge.With a lot of folks killed or being threatened she finally gives up.While being interrogated one of the vials are accidentally broken and soon a good portion of the train comes down with smallpox.
Van Damme never rests and is constantly on the move trying to either regain control of the train and/or fight/kill the bad guys.Slowly but surely the odds come around in Van Damme's favour and eventually he is able to regain control of the remaining vials and manages to save the lives of the trains remaining passengers before it falls into a wide chasm(a bridge was blown by NATO in order to stop it from reaching a large city).In quarantine Van Damme questions his boss,whom he believes set him up to also cash in on the deadly vials.He is arrested by NATO officials.Van Damme and his family walk happily into the sunset...so to speak.
The plot and film are both fast moving.It is a solid one,I believe.Van Damme has some nice little emotional/acting moments throughout,usually with his family.The fact that the film is set on a train also heightens the tension.The biggest thing to set this film back though is its lack of good production values.Specifically, the poor use of CGI and miniatures really bring it down.It is all too apparent when you are watching it.Van Dammes motorcycling moments and weapons firing,and the trains hitting of another one and its eventual precarious perch on the edge of a blown bridge,for instance.The green screen moments were,at times, amateurish beyond belief.I suppose the Bulgarian"budget" was blown on JCVD,with little left over for the more crucial S/FX.Too bad.
Technically speaking this DVD contains BOTH w/s and f/s versions of the film.The film is grainy in the f/s but alright in the w/s.There is an approximately 15 minute featurette on the films making.
If you are looking for a decent Van Damme film,this would be a good one to watch.It could have been better though if the budget had been bigger, along with the production values.But alas this short coming brings the film down quite a bit,as much as every thesp did a good job in their respective roles.Btw,this was Kris,Van Damme's son's,second film,and he apprises himself quite well.3 1/2 stars.
1. Has Van Damme in it. Usually, that's enough to carry a movie, but this proves to be the exception the rule.
2. Features Van Damme punching a guy in the crotch. His recent films have been showing less of that, so it's good to see his signature move back in action.
3. Film takes place in Europe...I guess that's kind of neat.
4. They avoid deluging you with over the top CGI effects, but...
1. ...quite possibly the worst miniature effects I have ever seen. It seriously looked like they were using an off-the-shelf train track set for their effects.
2. They never explain who Van Damme is. Is he like a secret agent or hitman or something? Who is he working for? His character is just shown as some kind of specialist in doing dangerous things for some other guy (who is never really explained either).
3. Tired plot (it's basically "Die Hard" meets "Dark Territory" meets "Contagion" [yeah, why not, I'll throw "Contagion" in there]). Sure, "Sudden Death" was a bit of a "Die Hard" knockoff, but it at least it had memorable things like Van Damme murdering a villain in a penguin custom. Nothing all that interesting happens here.
4. The opening fight/escape scene is the most bizarre I have ever witnessed on film. Basically, it's Van Damme and some woman fighting like they were in the cirque du soleil--that's the only way to describe it. Actually, I stand corrected from my previous point, this was a memorable scene in the movie...just not in a good way.
In summary, even the most hard core fan should avoid this. I would only recommend seeing this out of morbid curiosity.