Inferno (aka Desert Heat) (1999): John (Rocky, Karate Kid) Avildsen’s Last Film, Actioner Starring Jean-Claude van Damme, Danny Trejo, Pat Morita

John Avildsen’s Inferno (aka Desert Heat), an actioner starring Jean-Claude van Damme, Danny Trejo and Pat Morita, became his last movie before his death in 2017.

Eddie Lomax (Van Damme) is a veteran soldier sick of life, wandering the desert looking for a reason to die. An incident with a few thugs from the nearby town, who steal Eddie’s motorbike and beat him almost to death, sets him on a path of revenge.

The film opens as Eddie Lomax (Jean-Claude van Damme) drives an Indian motorcycle in an open desert plain (referred to as the Dry Lake). The motorcycle breaks down and Eddie dismounts, carrying nothing but his jacket, his .45 pistol, and bottle of tequila. As he lies in the desert drinking, he sees his friend Johnny Sixtoes (Danny Trejo), a Mexican Indian.

Eddie reveals that the surprise he wrote about in the letter was, in fact, the Indian motorcycle. He says he is there to kill himself as he goes into a drunken rage, revealing deep regret from their days in the Army, claiming that the souls of those he killed haunt him.

A truck pulls up to Eddie, Johnny disappears, and it becomes clear that Eddie was hallucinating.

In the end, Eddie then sets the two rival gangs against each other in bloody path to recover his prized motorcycle for Johnny, have his revenge on the Hogans, and find a reason to carry on living.

Eddie defeats Matt and is once again on the road with Johnny, riding with Rhonda.

The film’s original cut was known as Coyote Moon. Van Damme did not like this cut and had the film recut. Avildsen unsuccessfully attempted to have his name removed from the film.

Larry Powell and Tom Garrett wrote in The Films of John G. Avildsen that “reviews were scarce and the few that did get published were cruel.”

Jean-Claude Van Damme as Eddie Lomax
Danny Trejo as Johnny Sixtoes
Pat Morita as Jubal Early
Gabrielle Fitzpatrick as Rhonda Reynolds
Larry Drake as Ramsey Hogan
Vincent Schiavelli as Mr. Singh
David “Shark” Fralick as Matt Hogan
Silas Weir Mitchell as Jesse Hogan
Jonathan Avildsen as Petey Hogan
Lee Tergesen as Luke
Jaime Pressly as Dottie Matthews
Bill Erwin as Eli Hamilton
Ford Rainey as Pop Reynolds
Kevin West as Vern
Robert Symonds as Henry Howard
Priscilla Pointer as Mrs. Howard
Evelyn Guerrero as Bertie Early
Lisa McCullough as Irma
Nikki Bokal as Carol Delvecchio
Kelly Ewing as Rose Delvecchio
Ray Chang as Mr. Chang
Steve Adell as Joe Bob
Ed Trotta as Jack
Paul Koslo as Ives
Brett Harrelson as Buck
Jeff Kober as Beserko
Gregory Scott Cummins as Leon
Neil Delama as Lester