Thursday, July 13, 2017
JCVD-A-THON: The Order (2001)
Nu Image / Millennium Films only made too much sense. These days, Nu Image has gone semi-legit by producing the “Expendables” and “Olympus Has Fallen” franchises. In the nineties and early naughties, they were best known for low budget action and horror schlock. We're talking the likes of “Crocodile” and “Cyborg Cop.” Sadly, this was exactly the level Van Damme was operating on at the time. He would star in five films for Nu Image. Among these, “The Order” would re-pair Van Damme with his “Lionheart” and “Double Impact” director, Sheldon Lettich. Jean-Claude would also work on the script. The result is a fitfully amusing action/adventure flick with a somewhat schizoid tone.
Many years ago, a disenchanted Templar Knight started a mysterious new religious sect in the Middle East, known as the Order. Despite the last part of their religious text disappearing, the cult survives into the present day. The knight's modern day descendant is Ruby Cafmeyer, a thief who steals ancient artifacts for his archaeologist dad. Their latest discovery is the reminder of the knight's writings, which also includes a map to a treasure-filled temple under Jerusalem. While in the holy city, Ruby comes into conflict with the fanatical current day leader of the cult, who kidnap his dad, and plan on triggering a holy war by setting off a bomb in the hidden temple.
payot curls framing his face. You haven't lived until you've seen Van Damme kicking ass while dressed as a rabbi!
Sadly, “The Order” doesn't maintain this tone of goofy nonsense throughout. Midway through, Ruby sneaks into the Order while wearing their white-and-red robes. (The Order's symbol, a stone cross in a circle, resembles the Klu Klux Klan emblem. Presumably, this was unintentional.) Afterwards, the film's excessively wacky atmosphere takes a more dour direction. The finale was clearly hoping to capture an “Indiana Jones” tone. Our hero, after all, is exploring a hidden temple laden with booby traps and treasure. By the time Van Damme is sword-fighting with the main baddy, most of the fun has been sucked out of “The Order.” The movie attempts to recapture this at the last minute, when Van Damme looses his shirt just for the hell of it. But it's too little, too late by that point.
Jean-Claude Van Damme generally seems to be having fun in “The Order.” He is clearly embracing his comedic side in the film's early scenes. The entire production is full of balletic action scenes, allowing the star to kick and leap to his heart's content. What of the supporting cast? Charlton Heston is in the movie, which seems like it should be a big deal. But don't get too excited. He's only in a few scenes and is then abruptly killed off. Heston does his job but doesn't impress. Sofia Milos appears as the tough Israeli cop who bosses Van Damme around. The two don't share much romantic chemistry, which was clearly the intended goal. Brian Thompson, previously of “Cobra,” appears as the bad guy. Thompson barks stern dialogue while wearing a silly robe. He tries to ham it up but the part isn't even that interesting.
[THE VAN DAMMAGE: 5 outta 5]
[X] An Entire Fight, Sans Shirt
[X] Close-Up Screaming
[X] Jump-Kicks A Guy, Through Something
[X] Performs Either a Split or a Spinning Roundhouse Kick