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Death Warrant

Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Deran Sarafian
Produced by Mark DiSalle
Written by David S. Goyer
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Robert Guillaume
Cynthia Gibb
George Dickerson
Art LaFleur
Patrick Kilpatrick
as 'The Sandman'
featuring
Joshua John Miller
Hank Stone
Conrad Dunn
Jack Bannon
Abdul Salaam El Razzac
Armin Shimerman
Music by Gary Chang
Cinematography Russell Carpenter
Editing by John A. Barton
Cheryl Kroll
G. Gregg McLaughlin
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) September 14, 1990 United States
Running time 93 min.
Country USA
Canada
Language English

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.

Plot summary

Detective Louis Burke (Jean-Claude Van Damme) confronts a maniac called the Sandman (Patrick Kilpatrick) in an abandoned house. Although the Sandman nearly kills Burke, the partner of a cop that the Sandman killed, Burke manages to stop him with a bullet (or two).

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 Hawkins (Robert Guillaume) and Priest (Abdul Salaam El Razzac), who help him with the investigation. Meanwhile, more inmates are mysteriously murdered (with one being set on fire in his own cell). Burke's cellmate Konefke (Conrad Dunn) is killed, and stone-faced racist prison guard DeGraff (Art LaFleur) puts Burke in solitary confinement, where he's interrogated and beaten. As if the insult and injury that Burke endures were not enough, the Sandman ends up at Harrison.

It is later revealed that the prisoners are being murdered for their body organs. Back on the outside, Beckett attends a party given by Vogler (George Dickerson), the state's attorney general. Just as she's preparing to tell him about the slayings at the prison, Beckett receives a call from her computer whiz kid assistant, who identifies Vogler's henchman Keane (Jack Bannon) 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 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 the 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 who have been set free and armed with the knowledge that Burke is a cop. Gottesman is cornered by the inmates (who state it's time for surgery), while DeGraff tries to finish off Hawkins, only to be ambushed from behind by Priest (with a shotgun blast to the torso).

Burke and the Sandman have a final, brutal showdown in which (having been flung into a lit furnace) Burke kicks the Sandman, head first, onto a spike, then breaks his jaw and kills him. Burke then goes after Vogler and Keane.

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