Throw a dart at just about any Jean-Claude Van Damme film and there’s a good chance it’ll hit a movie with at least one or two redeeming qualities. Be it a fight scene, one-liner, even a funny hairdo on the man’s head. There’s usually something, however fleeting, that sticks with you after watching most films by the Muscles From Brussels.
Derailed is not one of those movies.
It was inevitable that Van Damme would run aground once exiled to the Phantom Zone of direct-to-video releases. And, truthfully, there are no doubt far worse low-budget actioners out there. I wouldn’t even say that it’s Van Damme’s worst movie to date. That likely belongs squarely on the shoulders of Nowhere To Run. Then again, at least Nowhere To Run had a couple decent moments of comedy and a fun motorcycle chase. Everything Derailed features, on the other hand, is about as low-energy as it comes. (Which is odd to say considering it looks like it was edited by a half-trained chimpanzee on a cocaine bender, but more on that later.)
Van Damme plays Jacques Kristoff, a guy who does … things. His line of work is never fully explained, though we are told that it keeps him from spending time with his wife and kids (one of which is played by Van Damme’s real-life son, Kristopher Van Varenberg). It’s Jacques’ birthday and he was supposed to be on vacation with the fam. However, it’s of the utmost importance now that he track down and escort to safety Galina Konstantin, a cat burglar who stole a super virus from the Slovakian government. Well, maybe she’s a cat burglar. Like Jacque’s line of work, it’s never fully explained. Or if it is, the explanation is too mundane and pointless to remember. Either way, there is zero justification for why she’s stealing this super virus or why Jacques specifically needs to help her. I mean, there is a reason why she’s stealing it but it’s saved for a twist that’s about as subtle as the train they’re escaping on.
Whatever. The point is they’re on a train, it gets hijacked by terrorists and (surprise!) Jacques’ family just so happens to be on the train too. What follows is an interminable 60 minutes or so (thank god this movie has a sub-90 minute runtime) where Jacques must action movie his way through a bunch of personality-bereft henchmen in an effort to save the day. More specificity might be in order when describing the fight scenes, but frankly there’s not much to say. People get punched and kicked, guns get fired, etc. But it’s all executed with an anonymous hand. No splits. No split kicks. Not even a hint of any of Van Damme’s signature moves. No worthy opponents for him to dispatch. Any energy to be found in these action scenes is purely the result of the hyperactive editing. There are strobe lights less erratic than the editing here.
The proceedings might have been salvaged somewhat with a story or characters worth caring about, but not even putting Jacques’ family in danger (as reliable a trope as one could expect in a Van Damme film) can make one care.
The only bright spot to this entire trainwreck (heh) is the delightfully goofy rap song that plays over the credits. That’s it.
Will things improve in the wasteland of DTV? Ringo Lam provides some hope. His third and final collaboration with Van Damme is up next with In Hell.
Van Dammage Report Statistics for Derailed:
Number of splits: 0
Number of split kicks: 0
Reason for being European: None given
Best Line: N/A
Previously on the Van Dammage Report:
The Order | Replicant | Desert Heat | Legionnaire | Knock Off | Double Team | Maximum Risk | The Quest | Sudden Death | Street Fighter | Timecop | Hard Target | Nowhere to Run | Universal Soldier | Double Impact | Death Warrant | Lionheart | Kickboxer | Cyborg | Bloodsport