Fatal Deviation

Fatal Deviation is a low-budget cult film produced and set in Trim, County Meath, Ireland. Produced in 1998, it enjoys the distinction of being Ireland's first full-length martial arts film. The film stars real-life martial arts enthusiast James Bennett. The film was conceived by James Bennett. Many have considered this film to be one of the worst films ever made. The movie went straight to video without a theatrical release.

Fatal Deviation
Fatal deviation.jpg
VHS cover
Directed bySimon Linscheid
Shay Casserley
James Bennett
Written bySimon Linscheid
Story byJames Bennett
Produced byJames Bennett
Justin Harmon
  • James Bennett
  • Mikey Graham
  • Colin Hamilton
  • Justin Harmon
  • Michael Regan
CinematographyShay Casserley
Edited bySimon Linscheid
Distributed byRising Sun Productions
Release date
1998 (1998)
Running time
76 minutes


Fatal Deviation tells the story of Jimmy Bennett, a disenfranchised young man trying to rebuild his life. On returning home after a ten year stay in St. Claude's Reform School, he aims to discover who he is, what it is he should do and what happened to his father. Shortly after his return to his hometown, Jimmy gets on the wrong side of a local gang, beating up two of its members who had been harassing local shop worker Nicola, in an attempt to force her to date gang member Mikey (played by Mikey Graham of Boyzone fame). The fight is witnessed by a monk in a local secret kung-fu group, with mysterious links to Jimmy's father. This order organises the Bealtaine tournament, an underground 'no-rules' fighting tournament, in which Jimmy is invited to partake.

The gang leader, known only as Loughlan, who happens to be the father of the aforementioned Mikey, decides they should add Jimmy to their group ("Why not? Wouldn't it be ironic to have the son of the man I killed working for us?"). When Jimmy refuses to join them, they turn on him. Loughlan arranges for henchman 'Seagull' to return from his successful mission in Hong Kong on a direct flight to Trim Aerodrome in order to take part in the festival. Meanwhile Mikey has Nicola kidnapped and leaves Jimmy a note warning him to "Loose [sic] or else".

Jimmy's fortunes begin to change when he is brought under the tutelage of a group of mysterious local monks who had trained his father, a martial arts champion, many years before. Under the guidance of the mysterious head monk, Jimmy undertakes an intensive training programme in preparation for the tournament. Jimmy goes on to reach the final, where he faces Seagull. After remembering that he had witnessed the local drug lord kill his father with a sword in the front of him, back when he was a child, he defeats Seagull with a well-timed use of the mysterious "Fatal Deviation" move as taught to him by the head monk.

Having triumphed over Seagull, Jimmy then takes on the gang and rescues his girlfriend. In doing so, he kills Mikey. On hearing of his son's death the gang leader seeks bloody vengeance ("You killed my son, now I'm going to kill you, just as I killed your father"), but Jimmy ultimately dispatches him too. Jimmy reunites with his girlfriend and looks forward to a happy and peaceful future in Trim.


  • Jimmy Bennett as Jimmy Bennett
  • Mikey Graham as Mikey
  • Michael Regan as Loughlan
  • Nicola O'Sullivan as Nicola
  • Colin Hamilton as Seagull
  • Justin Harmon as Man in Bath
  • Barry Smith as Henchman #1
  • Peter Crinion as Henchman #2
  • Paudie Greene as Henchman #3
  • Johnny Murray as Main Monk
  • Mattie Finnigan as Tournament Monk


James Bennett had been tipped off that Hong Kong film producers were interested in working with him, but wanted to see some of his work before offering him a project. Fatal Deviation was essentially his audition tape.[1] Filming began in September 1997 with no budget in place and Bennett simply asked his friends to become involved with making the film.[2] He later stated that while he had no film making experience, he made the film as a love letter to martial arts and action movies and admitted that it fell into the "so bad it's good" category.[3] Bennett was a fan of both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, both of whom he would eventually work with. As a result, the film is heavily influenced by films featuring the two stars, particularly Hard Target and Bloodsport.[4]

The car crash towards the end of the film was not intended, but was included for dramatic effect. The crash is shown in a post credits sequence, along with other bloopers taken during the filming.[5] Production started using a Sony Hi8 camera (which got destroyed during filming) and all scenes were reshot when Shay Casserley took over as Director and Camera operator shooting the film on SVHS.[6]


In 2010, Luke McKinney of Cracked.com labeled the film "the worst film ever made."[7] The Irish Post named it the worst Irish film of all time,[8] and the Irish Independent wrote that it is "now regarded as one of the worst films ever made".[9] Entertainment.ie placed it on its list of "10 So Bad They're Good Movies You Need To See Before You Die".[10] The film has had something of a revival in popularity, largely thanks to video and written essays poking fun at the film's story and technical details.[11][12][13][14]


  1. ^ Fatal Deviation Jimmy Bennet on Nationwide 1998 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Interview with James P. Bennett". theactionelite.com. Retrieved 2021-07-30.
  3. ^ 365Flix Talk | James Bennet | Fatal Deviation – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "Jean Claude Van Damme | Worsemovies".
  5. ^ "Meet Fatal Deviation, Ireland's only martial arts film". Den of Geek. 2015-11-04. Retrieved 2021-07-30.
  6. ^ Bennett, J., Fatal Deviation - d, retrieved 2021-07-30
  7. ^ "Ireland's Only Kung Fu Movie (Is The Worst Film Ever Made)". Cracked.com. July 3, 2010.
  8. ^ Lonergan, Aidan (August 16, 2018). "A definitive ranking of the 7 worst Irish films of all-time". The Irish Post. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  9. ^ "Westlife: what next?". Irish Independent. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  10. ^ Lloyd, Bryan. "10 So Bad They're Good Movies You Need To See Before You Die". entertainment.ie. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  11. ^ Fatal Deviation (1998) - OSW Film Review! – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Fatal Deviation - Shitcase Cinema review – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Fatal Deviation (1998) (Obscurus Lupa Presents) (FROM THE ARCHIVES) – via YouTube.
  14. ^ Fatal Deviation / The Infinite Review #31, retrieved 2021-07-01

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