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Sudden Death (1995 film)

Sudden Death
File:Sudden death.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Hyams
Produced by Howard Baldwin
Moshe Diamant
Written by Gene Quintano
Story by Karen Elise Baldwin
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Powers Boothe
Raymond J. Barry
Whittni Wright
Ross Malinger
Dorian Harewood
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Peter Hyams
Edited by Steven Kemper
Shattered Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • December 22, 1995 (1995-12-22)
Running time
110 min.
Budget $35 million
Box office $64,350,171

Sudden Death is a 1995 American action film directed by Peter Hyams, and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Powers Boothe. The film was released in the United States on December 22, 1995. The film, set in a hockey stadium, was written by Gene Quintano based on a story by Karen Elise Baldwin, the wife of Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin, who was the producer.

Sudden Death features a collaboration between Powers Booth and Raymond J. Barry, reuniting them for the first time since 1992's Rapid Fire. This is the second film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and directed by Peter Hyams, they both worked together in Timecop, the previous year.

The film was a box office disappointment in the United States, grossing less than $20.4 million at the box office on a $35 million budget. It also received mixed to negative reviews at the time of its release. [1] However, the film was a huge success internationally, particularly in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom making $64 million worldwide.[2] In other countries, it made close to $50 million in profit with video sales.[citation needed]


Darren McCord (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a Canadian-born firefighter with the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau who suffered a personal crisis after he was unable to save a young girl from a house fire. Now removed from active duty, Darren is the fire marshal for the Civic Arena.

While attending Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks with his daughter Emily (Whittni Wright) and his son Tyler (Ross Malinger), he discovers a crime operation occurring in the arena. A terrorist group led by former United States government employee Joshua Foss (Powers Boothe) is holding U.S. Vice President Daniel Binder (Raymond J. Barry) and several other VIPs hostage in a luxury suite.

Foss has the arena wired with explosives, and plans to blow it up at the end of the game while having hundreds of millions of dollars wired into several off shore accounts. Darren must not just stop Foss, but somehow send the game into overtime and save his children simultaneously.

Darren is first pulled into the plot when Emily is kidnapped by Carla, the sole female member of the terrorists dressed as the mascot Iceburgh. She witnesses Carla murder numerous people, and is spared when she runs out of ammunition. Carla places Emily in the suite with the other hostages about to be executed. Darren, who had given pursuit, is left to search in vain. Realizing she has been "made", Carla returns to deal with Darren and a long fight breaks out. He proves to be more than a match for Carla. Darren manages to kill Carla by kicking her into a large dishwasher, which pulls on her penguin's head strap and strangles her.

However, Darren finds a security guard, but this man is a hostile in disguise. He gets the upper hand this time, though, and forces information out of the thug before stabbing him in the neck. Darren heads up to the executive offices and finds a mobile phone, with which he calls the police. They put him in touch with Secret Service Agent Matthew Hallmark (Dorian Harewood), who advises that Darren stand by while the agents take charge. He angrily refuses, saying that he will handle this himself.

The Secret Service and the Pittsburgh Police team up to surround and cordone off the arena and a standoff ensues. Meanwhile, Darren manages to find a few of the bombs and disable them, whilst Foss goes about killing several hostages. Eventually, Hallmark manages to sneak inside and meet with Darren. It quickly transpires that Hallmark is just another one of Foss' puppets, influenced by money. Darren kills Hallmark and uses Hallmark's phone to contact Foss, who taunts the man with the news that he is holding his daughter captive.

As time quickly ticks down, Darren manages to disable more bombs, but is severely slowed by confrontations with Foss' men. At one point, the fire marshal must pretend to be the Pittsburgh goalie to escape the thugs and ends up successfully defending a shot. The third period runs down, and with the Penguins down by one goal, Luc Robitaille scores the equalizer in the last second, bringing the game to sudden death and prolonging the game, but only until the next goal is made. Darren decides that there's no time left to find the remaining bombs and climbs up to the roof of the arena. He advances upon the owner's box from above and forces his way in, rescuing Emily and the remaining hostages.

Meanwhile, Foss manages to escape and blend in with the chaos that has ensued by one of Foss' henchmen falling from the roof through the score display earlier and blowing it up. However, Foss sets off one of the bombs, flooding part of the arena, and recaptures Emily when she recognizes him. They head up towards the top of the arena, where a helicopter is waiting to lift Foss away. Darren intervenes and saves his daughter. Foss flees, and a wounded Darren shoots the pilot through the floor. The pilot falls back taking the joystick with him, stalling out the chopper and a screaming Foss is killed as the chopper goes into the arena and explodes on impact with the ice.

Darren is being led to a waiting ambulance, his son and daughter comment to the paramedics about how their father is a hero, while Tyler had before told Emily that their father was too scared to be a fireman again. A contented Darren is put inside the ambulance as the film ends.


Hockey figures


It is set and filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Middletown, New York in 98 days on August 29 and December 7, 1994.


The movie received a mixed reaction.[5][6][7][8] Sudden Death currently holds a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, some considered Sudden Death one of Van Damme's best films to date (alongside Hard Target and Timecop). Critic Roger Ebert stated that "Sudden Death isn't about common sense. It's about the manipulation of action and special-effects sequences to create a thriller effect, and at that it's pretty good."[9]

Box office

Sudden Death opened in the United States on the weekend of December 22, 1995 in 8th place, making only $4,782,445 at 1681 theatres, with a poor $2,845 per screen average, and meek $20,350,171 final tally.[10] Internationally it fared a little better, with a worldwide gross of nearly $64 million.[11] In other countries, it made close to 50 million in profit with video sales.[citation needed]


Sudden Death
Author Stephen Mertz
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Boulevard Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 218 pp
ISBN 1-57297-032-4
OCLC 33266093

The novelization of the film was written by American writer Stephen Mertz[12] The audio book is read by Powers Boothe.


  1. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1995-12-25). "It's a Big Sigh of Relief for 'Exhale'; Box office: Whitney Houston film opens strongly and could take in $11 million or more for the four-day weekend. 'Nixon' and 'Cutthroat Island' perform poorly.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  2. ^ Sudden Death at
  3. ^ Pittsburgh Sudden Death (1995)
  4. ^ Pittsburgh Sudden Death (1995)
  5. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1995-12-22). "MOVIE REVIEW; Van Damme in Top Form in 'Sudden Death'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  6. ^ "Sudden Death". Entertainment Weekly. 1995-12-22. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  7. ^ "Sudden Death". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  8. ^ Elley, Derek (1995-12-10). "Sudden Death". Variety. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1995-12-25). "It's a Big Sigh of Relief for 'Exhale'; Box office: Whitney Houston film opens strongly and could take in $11 million or more for the four-day weekend. 'Nixon' and 'Cutthroat Island' perform poorly.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  11. ^ Sudden Death at
  12. ^ "Stephen Mertz, Contemporary Authors Online, Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2008". 

External links