FATAL DEVIATION

Fatal Deviation

FATAL DEVIATION (1998)

Tagline: “A classic good versus evil action flick, mixed with kicks, guns, motorcycles and a hot babe!” (Yes. This is the actual tagline.)

Rating: 4.9 / 10 (*Cough, Splutter*)

Fatal Deviation is probably the best kept secret in the realm of truly Bad Film.

It is Ireland’s answer to The Room. Though quite what the question must have been to provoke an answer of this magnitude, we dare not contemplate.

Until now, The Room, Birdemic and probably Haunted Boat have been Crapula’s most potent, most harrowing yardsticks. Their Bad Film stench has permeated everything we have watched subsequently, like a decaying corpse stuffed behind the airing cupboard.

However, boasting naught but enthusiastic, inexplicable ineptitude, and bewilderingly high waisted trousers, Fatal Deviation proudly roundhouses its way into this small, elite group of Bad Film classics.

The film styles itself as ‘Ireland’s only feature length martial arts thriller’.

O’MG.

fatal deviation

Your name here.

Writer, producer, martial arts choreographer and star James Bennett plays a character called ‘Jimmy Bennett’- an indication of the levels of creativity and imagination that lie within this risible masterpiece. Of course, it means James doesn’t have to waste vital creative energy remembering his character’s name.

Which is handy.

Because James Bennett is certainly a better martial artist than he is an actor. Sadly, he’s also a better neurosurgeon and particle physicist than he is an actor. He is less Bruce Lee and more Bruce Hornsby.

But without the range.

Every sphincter-troubling line is delivered with a painfully furrowed brow, his monotone mumbled brogue- like a patient in rehab after a serious head injury.

The story is as blandly familiar and straightforward as a dollop of mashed Irish potato. Jimmy is returning home after years away, to avenge the murder of his martial arts expert father- executed in his own front room with a sword while he was meditating.

So not that much of an expert then, apparently.

fatal deviation

Waist not, want definitely not

But Jimmy is back, with vengeance in his heart and freakish height to his trouser. The criminal gang behind the murder of Jimmy’s father won’t know what hit them. Mainly because they will be as confused as we are by the plot.

What in the name of Satan’s ballbag is going on?

The gang is notable for two reasons:

1) The old man who plays the Godfather of the organisation is without question, the worst ‘actor’ Crapula have yet endured.

fatal deviation

Help! The Aged!

He is a bewildering, tragic, hysterical delight. It’s as though the producers kidnapped the poor fellow from a residential home and wouldn’t let him sit down and watch Bargain Hunt until he’d read the words on the card behind the camera.

Every line feels like it was edited just before he broke off to say, “Where am I?” or “I’m scared” and “I want to go home”. His voice trembles with the knowledge that only when the scene is completed will he have his heart medication returned to him.

2) One of the villains is played by Mikey from Boyzone.

fatal deviation

Mikey from Boyzone: Where he belongs

You would have thought Mikey from Boyzone had inflicted enough pain on the public already but no, he is seemingly relentless. Why does he hate us so much? A measure of the depths plummeted by Fatal Deviation is that Mikey from Boyzone somehow manages to be the best thing in the film. And nobody even said that about his wedding video.

Because this is a martial arts film, there is of course a martial arts tournament that our hero has to enter and win…for some reason. And because this is a martial arts film, our hero needs a martial arts mentor to help him win it.

In Jimmy’s case, step forward a local, mystical, bearded monk who possesses the wild-eyed, agitated look of a man desperate for the bottle of whisky someone’s dangling at him just out of shot. He’s a cross between Gandalf, Yoda and the tramp on the bus who is about to expose himself to that young mother unless he can be distracted by a can of Tennent’s Extra.

fatal deviation

100% Proof Monk

The martial arts training begins ominously when the monk commands Jimmy to “Meet me in the woods”. He then insists Jimmy change his clothes and conduct his training in denim cut-off hot pants…and nothing else.

Hmmm. And people wonder why so many continue to be suspicious of the Irish clergy.

Not enough films have mystical Kung Fu monks playing bagpipes during fight training and horse riding sequences. Fatal Deviation may be an Irish version of The Room but not even The Room had a gardening montage.

One half of Crapula has just renounced his Irish heritage.

We must also offer a special tip o’ the Crapula hat to the soundtrack. It sounds like it was ripped off a cancelled 1990s kids TV show that featured adults dressed up in farmyard animal costumes. Indeed, it sounds like it might have been actually composed by farmyard animals- joyful, atonal ones. It is madly upbeat music that manages to be both hilarious, and troublingly, bafflingly incongruous, particularly when Jimmy is practicing knees to the groin or punches to the face.

Fatal Deviation

See me after class

It’s during one of these training montages, scored with this wonderfully bizarre Teletubbies-esque theme tune, that our hero discovers his girlfriend has been kidnapped by the gang and that he must not win the tournament. He receives a message that reads “Loose Or Else” Is this a reference to the snugness of his trousers? The editing? The film’s internal logic?

This is the martial arts film Father Dougal would make.

The tournament itself boasts some of the most poorly executed fight scenes since Grange Hill. And there are a lot of them. Who’d have thought the Irish liked fighting so much? Though anybody would find it hard not to jump in and start punching some of the competitors- just for the hairstyles they dare to flaunt in public.

fatal deviation

Not-that-hot tub

The only thing missing from this movie is a naked chubby bloke wearing a cowboy hat while sitting in a dirty bath outside a battered caravan… oh hang on, there he is.

Fatal Deviation fatally deviates from a proper film in the following ways:

 

Every conceivable way.

 

It’s the worst thing to happen to Ireland since Oliver Cromwell

After the inevitable tournament victory, the film ends with Jimmy finally avenging his father’s death. By shooting the old man in the face before then making out with his rescued girl on the grass verge right next to the octogenarian’s still twitching corpse.

Sexy.

He also snaps Mikey from Boyzone’s neck like a lazily produced pop CD. Something all true music fans have probably fantasised about doing at one time or another.

The filmmakers have bravely but foolishly included a pre-end credits blooper reel. Of course, it’s impossible to tell the difference between these amateurish out-takes and the spectacularly inept 75 minutes of hilarious, glistening, cinematic arse-sweat we have just endured.

The whole film is a giant blooper reel- technically awful, narratively impenetrable, and abysmally ‘acted’.

Just like all truly great Bad Films, ambition far exceeded ability. No aspect of the film isn’t brilliantly, unashamedly execrable. It’s a stunning, glorious, wonderful treat.

Revenge is a dish best served incompetent.

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