Death Warrant (1990)

R | 89 mins | Drama | 14 September 1990

Full page view
HISTORY

Final credits include the following information: “Cellular telephones by Fujitsu America, Inc.; Men’s clothing by The Greif Companies for Perry Ellis; Leathergoods by The Ghurka Collection; Computer printers by Genicom; Fax machines by Toshiba America Information Services, Inc.; Leather accessories by Filofax®; Kitchen appliances by Krups; Product placement by Jim Jaffe Entertainment, Inc.”
       According to documents on film in AMPAS library files, the primary location for Death Warrant was the abandoned Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA, which had been scheduled for demolition. The production used its “fully equipped industrial-sized laundry,” kitchen, staff dining room, and gated delivery entrance, and built sets in the hotel ballrooms. Other locations included the Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles, the Occidental Studios in Hollywood, CA, and a power plant in Orange County, where the film’s final boiler room fight was staged. Music composer Gary Chang created the film’s “moody” soundtrack by mixing the sound of a full orchestra with a percussionist tapping on metal objects, including part of a jet engine.
       Principal photography for the film, then titled Dusted, began 26 Jul 1989, the 12 Sep 1989 Var reported. The 27 Aug 1989 Chicago Tribune reported the budget was $6 million. The 28 Mar 1990 Var noted that producers changed the title to Death Warrant and scheduled a 27 Apr 1990 release. However, the 16 May 1990 DV reported the film was delayed pending a decision over whether Cannon Films or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists (MGM/UA) should distribute. The film opened all over Los Angeles on 14 Sep 1990, paired with star Jean-Claude Van Damme’s previous film, Kickboxer ... More Less

Final credits include the following information: “Cellular telephones by Fujitsu America, Inc.; Men’s clothing by The Greif Companies for Perry Ellis; Leathergoods by The Ghurka Collection; Computer printers by Genicom; Fax machines by Toshiba America Information Services, Inc.; Leather accessories by Filofax®; Kitchen appliances by Krups; Product placement by Jim Jaffe Entertainment, Inc.”
       According to documents on film in AMPAS library files, the primary location for Death Warrant was the abandoned Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA, which had been scheduled for demolition. The production used its “fully equipped industrial-sized laundry,” kitchen, staff dining room, and gated delivery entrance, and built sets in the hotel ballrooms. Other locations included the Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles, the Occidental Studios in Hollywood, CA, and a power plant in Orange County, where the film’s final boiler room fight was staged. Music composer Gary Chang created the film’s “moody” soundtrack by mixing the sound of a full orchestra with a percussionist tapping on metal objects, including part of a jet engine.
       Principal photography for the film, then titled Dusted, began 26 Jul 1989, the 12 Sep 1989 Var reported. The 27 Aug 1989 Chicago Tribune reported the budget was $6 million. The 28 Mar 1990 Var noted that producers changed the title to Death Warrant and scheduled a 27 Apr 1990 release. However, the 16 May 1990 DV reported the film was delayed pending a decision over whether Cannon Films or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists (MGM/UA) should distribute. The film opened all over Los Angeles on 14 Sep 1990, paired with star Jean-Claude Van Damme’s previous film, Kickboxer (1989, see entry), according to film schedules in the 13 Sep 1990 Los Angeles Sentinel.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Chicago Tribune
27 Aug 1989
p. 16.
Daily Variety
16 May 1990
p. 19.
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1990
p. 6, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1990
p. 10, 20.
Los Angeles Sentinel
13 Sep 1990
Section B, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1990
Section T, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1990
Section F, p. 2.
New York Times
15 Sep 1990
p. 16.
Variety
28 Mar 1990
p. 28.
Variety
1 Oct 1990
p. 83.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mark DiSalle Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st ass cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam
Asst Steadicam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Dolly grip
Best boy grip
Cam and lenses supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept buyer
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead man
On-set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop
Scenic painter
Asst scenic painter
Lead carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR/Foley mixer
ADR/Foley rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Pyrotechnic eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist/Hair
Makeup eff
Asst makeup
Asst hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Asst prod coord
Loc mgr
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Accounting secy
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Extra casting
Caterer
Craft service
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prison consultant
Prod services and equip provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Pyrotechnic stunts
Pyrotechnic stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Bring Me A Dream," written by Martha Davis and Gary Chang, performed by Craig Thomas, produced by Gary Chang and Curt Taylor.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Dusted
Release Date:
14 September 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 September 1990
Production Date:
began 26 July 1989
Copyright Claimant:
MGM-Pathe Communications Company
Copyright Date:
7 January 1991
Copyright Number:
PA505169
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
89
Length(in feet):
8,028
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30208
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Canadian Royal Mounted Police officer Louis Burke, on loan to the Los Angeles Police Department in California, is wounded when he guns down serial killer Christian “the Sandman” Naylor, who killed his partner. Sixteen months later, Burke returns to Los Angeles to meet with District Attorney Tom Vogler; Sam Walden of the State Board of Corrections; Ben Keane, who heads the governor’s task force on prisons; and attorney Amanda Beckett. Vogler informs Burke that the assistant warden and nine prisoners at Harrison Prison have been murdered. Vogler wants Burke to go inside the prison undercover as a convicted armed robber. Amanda, Burke’s “wife,” will be his only contact. Later, when Burke and other new “fish” arrive at the prison, head guard Sgt. DeGraf brutally uses his baton to display the power he has over them. Prison physician Dr. Gottesman, checking for diseases, remarks to Louis Burke that he has rare AB-negative blood. A one-eyed African-American inmate trustee named Hawkins assigns Burke his cell and prisoner number. Burke’s cellmate, Konefke, tries to intimidate him with a knife, but Burke subdues him. Later, protecting Hawkins in the chow hall, Burke kicks a Chicano gang member named Perez in the face, and as guards separate them, Perez promises revenge. Sergeant DeGraf warns Burke he will not last long. When Burke tries to join Hawkins at a table, the black prisoner tells him to sit with his “own kind.” Back in their cell, Konefke warns Burke to distrust everybody. Asked about the recent prisoner deaths, Konefke says his eyesight is too poor to see anything. On her first visit, Amanda tells Burke the prisoners all died from punctures in the back of the ... +


Canadian Royal Mounted Police officer Louis Burke, on loan to the Los Angeles Police Department in California, is wounded when he guns down serial killer Christian “the Sandman” Naylor, who killed his partner. Sixteen months later, Burke returns to Los Angeles to meet with District Attorney Tom Vogler; Sam Walden of the State Board of Corrections; Ben Keane, who heads the governor’s task force on prisons; and attorney Amanda Beckett. Vogler informs Burke that the assistant warden and nine prisoners at Harrison Prison have been murdered. Vogler wants Burke to go inside the prison undercover as a convicted armed robber. Amanda, Burke’s “wife,” will be his only contact. Later, when Burke and other new “fish” arrive at the prison, head guard Sgt. DeGraf brutally uses his baton to display the power he has over them. Prison physician Dr. Gottesman, checking for diseases, remarks to Louis Burke that he has rare AB-negative blood. A one-eyed African-American inmate trustee named Hawkins assigns Burke his cell and prisoner number. Burke’s cellmate, Konefke, tries to intimidate him with a knife, but Burke subdues him. Later, protecting Hawkins in the chow hall, Burke kicks a Chicano gang member named Perez in the face, and as guards separate them, Perez promises revenge. Sergeant DeGraf warns Burke he will not last long. When Burke tries to join Hawkins at a table, the black prisoner tells him to sit with his “own kind.” Back in their cell, Konefke warns Burke to distrust everybody. Asked about the recent prisoner deaths, Konefke says his eyesight is too poor to see anything. On her first visit, Amanda tells Burke the prisoners all died from punctures in the back of the skull, and the latest victim was Alvin Barrett. Burke asks her to smuggle in a few $100 and $50 bills, because he needs bribe money. Later, Amanda visits Tom Vogler and his wife, Helen, who are like parents to her. They celebrate Helen’s recent release from the hospital and her new lease on life. While Burke mops the prison laundry room, Perez and an Asian martial arts expert named Bruce attack him, but he kickboxes them into semi-consciousness. Amanda smuggles him $50 and $100 bills inside the binding of a book. When Burke asks Hawkins what he knows about Barrett’s murder, the trustee sends him to see Priest in the lower section of the prison where the black drug kingpin lives in luxury with Jersey and another “woman” who take female hormone pills. After Burke gives him money, Priest suggests he talk to Alvin Barrett’s cellmate, Mayerson, who is in solitary confinement, but who also works the night shift in the prison infirmary. That night, as Burke mops the infirmary, Sgt. DeGraf and guards wheel in a new stabbing victim. Burke also sees an attendant pushing a cart full of red packages marked “Hazardous.” He “accidentally” knocks one to the floor, and learns from the attendant that it contains “medical waste.” Mayerson refuses to talk about Barrett because it could get him killed. Returning to Priest’s lair, Burke uses the kingpin’s contraband telephone to call Amanda to tell her guards are involved in the killings. Later, with the help of Hawkins,, Burke gets past a guard, slips into the records room, and finds that Barrett’s blood type is written in his file, along with the letters “SL.” Burke telephones Amanda again and puts her in touch with a high school computer nerd named Douglas Tisdale. Searching for “SL,” Douglas hacks into the prison computer and finds a file called “Sleep,” locked by the password "Morpheus," the Greek god of slumber. Douglas tells Amanda he needs another day to find more information. Later, Jersey warns Burke he will have visitors that night. Meanwhile, Douglas makes copies of a prison computer file, just as someone tries to destroy it from an outside telephone number. Amanda telephones Burke that the file contains the names and blood types of all the prison murder victims, and Burke, himself, is next on the list. That night, two guards slip into the cell, strangle Konefke with a wire, and stab Burke’s blanket with an ice pick. Burke rolls out from the hiding place beneath his bunk and knocks out the man trying to kill him, but other guards rush into the cell and charge him with Konefke’s death. Burke is dragged into solitary confinement, where DeGraf clubs and kicks him. That night, Jersey is stabbed to death and Mayerson is incinerated in his cell with gasoline. The next day, when Amanda visits Burke, DeGraf and his lieutenant, Keller, strip-search her, then take her to a “conjugal” trailer to spend time with her “husband,” who has been cleaned up and released from solitary. Amanda dresses Burke’s facial wounds as she tells him that Dr. Gottesman received his medical degree in South America and has several malpractice suits filed against him. They make love. That night, with Priest’s help, Burke and Hawkins break into an infirmary refrigerator and find human hearts and livers. The next morning, Burke sees everyone in the cellblock loudly greeting a new prisoner and is shocked to see the man is Christian Naylor, the Sandman. Later, guards ambush Burke in the shower and chain him to overhead pipes. Naylor threatens him with a knife, and gloats that every prisoner in Harrison will know Burke is a cop and try to kill him. After Naylor leaves, the guards return Burke to the general population. As he is led to his cell, prisoners threaten him. Meanwhile, Amanda goes to Tom Vogler’s home to tell him they need to rescue Burke immediately. At that moment, Douglas telephones to tell her he found the outside telephone number of whoever tried to erase the computer files. When he gives her the number, she realizes it belongs to Vogler. When she confronts him, Vogler explains that he could not get his wife, Helen, a heart transplant in time because she was too far down the list. However, Dr. Gottesman found a heart and arranged for the secret operation that saved her life. Now they are making money harvesting organs from prisoners. He admits that he arranged for Naylor, the Sandman, to be transferred to Harrison Prison, in order to get rid of Burke. At that moment, Helen enters the room, and Amanda reveals that her husband murdered for her. At the prison, Burke wires the bars of his cell to a battery and amplifier, so that when Keller, the night guard, grabs them, the electric shock knocks him unconscious. Taking Keller’s keys, Burke escapes. Naylor hurries to the main switch that controls all cell doors and lets the prisoners out to chase the cop through the prison. DeGraf hits Burke with a club and, with another guard, drags the undercover Mountie to Dr. Gottesman’s infirmary, but Hawkins blows open the door with a shotgun. He and Priest rescue Burke and run. Behind them, prisoners capture Dr. Gottesman and tell him he is “just in time for surgery.” His screams echo through the prison. Hawkins is wounded, and Priest shoots DeGraf. As they hurry to a boiler room, Naylor kills Priest and goes after Burke with a wrench. As they fight, prisoners gather on tiers above them to watch. Burke kicks Naylor into a burning furnace, but he stumbles out in flames and extinguishes them by rolling on the floor. Burke kicks Naylor into a bolt in the wall, which penetrates the back of his skull. The prisoners allow Burke to walk out, carrying the wounded Hawkins to a waiting ambulance. Amanda embraces him, as police arrive at the prison. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.