[The following essay contains MAJOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]
On Saint Patrick’s Day, I watched Fatal Deviation—which proudly advertises itself as Ireland’s first feature-length martial arts epic—and it’s taken me a whole week to digest the experience. The movie’s plot is a contradiction wrapped in a paradox—childishly simple at first glance, yet needlessly convoluted upon further inspection. The story revolves around only six major characters, but their intricately interwoven motivations and interpersonal conflicts form a labyrinthine web of meaningless coincidences, redundancies, and non-sequiturs.
Words alone cannot adequately convey the infuriating complexity of this narrative puzzle; in order to properly dissect Fatal Deviation’s twisted, tangled, circular structure, I required a visual aid—a map of the filmmakers’ collective madness:
Now, to clarify that jumbled mess of lines and scribbles, allow me to summarize Fatal Deviation in its entirety:
Jimmy Bennett, an Irish martial artist traumatized by his partially repressed childhood memories of his father’s murder, returns to his hometown and starts dating Nicola, a beautiful grocery store clerk.
Mikey, the unhinged son of a tyrannical crime lord named Loughlan, wants to kill Jimmy for “stealing” Nicola away from him.
Loughlan, however, would rather employ Jimmy’s services as an enforcer—he’s the man that killed Jimmy’s father all those years ago, and the idea of bossing his victim’s son around is too deliciously ironic to pass up.
Jimmy turns down Loughlan’s job offer, effortlessly thrashes his thugs, and continues to go steady with Nicola.
One day, while frolicking through the forest with Nicola, Jimmy encounters the wise old monk (Franciscan, not Shaolin) that trained his father in the ways of martial arts.
The monk encourages Jimmy to compete in an annual martial arts tournament that is rigged in Loughlan’s favor; if Jimmy is able to defeat Loughlan’s hired combatant, then Loughlan’s power over the community will be shattered.
Enraged by this challenge to his reign, Loughlan orders Mikey to kidnap Nicola. The criminals issue an ultimatum: if Jimmy doesn’t throw the tournament, Nicola dies.
Naturally, Jimmy wins without much difficulty, then immediately rushes off to rescue Nicola—slaughtering Mikey and all of his henchmen in the process.
Jimmy treats Nicola to a celebratory picnic—where he is ambushed by Loughlan! Fortunately, the gangster is approximately ninety years old, allowing our hero to easily disarm him and gun him down while he’s sprawled helplessly on the ground.
And the survivors live happily ever after.
Hopefully, I don’t need to elaborate on that synopsis in any greater detail. It’s nearly impossible to logically analyze the precise… “qualities” that transform a “passion project” like Fatal Deviation (or Miami Connection, or The Room) into an unintentionally hilarious masterpiece of Trash Cinema.
More often than not, the finished product’s stylistic flaws, blemishes, and shortcomings are so self-evident that it’s better to just let them speak for themselves.