Release Year: 2001
Country: Aruba / United States
Director: Sheldon Letich
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sofia Milos, Brian Thompson, Ben Cross, Charlton Heston
Writer: Les Weldon, Jean-Claude Van Damme
Editor: Alain Jabubowicz
Director of Photography: David Gurfunkel
Music: Pino Donaggio
Producers: Danny Lerner, John Thompson, Avi Lerner
AKA: Jihad Warrior
Just a quick one today. I recently watched Jean Claude Van Damme’s The Order, which is not a spy film, but it has a sequence in it that mirrors a sequence from Casino Royale (2006), so I’ll share a few quick observations about it here today.
In Casino Royale, most will remember the scene at Miami airport, where Bond stops a bomb attempt. You may also recall, where the vehicle he is travelling on crashes through a chain of baggage trolleys, then later, while being pursued, after crossing a runway, a police car gets blown away from the backwash of a jet engine. That sequence is played out, on a smaller scale of course, in The Order. The catchphrase for the Bond series is ‘Nobody Does it Better’, which is true. Thankfully the catchphrase is not ‘We do it first’, because The Order was made a good five years before Casino Royale.
The Order was made in 2001, and to be brutally honest it is trash. But it’s watchable trash, with a few redeeming features, like the amazing location footage in Jerusalem, and of course, some of the fight scenes. Where the film goes wrong, is the crude attempts to inject some comedy into the proceedings. There Jean ClaudeVan Damme comes off as a poor-man’s Jackie Chan. This is further enforced by the Jackie-esque blooper reel at the end of the movie. Both Van Damme and Chan have their respective styles, and I don’t believe that Van Damme has to borrow Jackie’s. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new, but this so clearly crosses into Chan territory that it is embarrassing.
Ben Cross plays one of the villains (However, Brian Thompson is the main villain). Cross is an actor I truly appreciate. He has been in some absolute rubbish, but he is usually the best thing in the film. The man is a professional. His attitude appears to be that just because he is appearing in trash, doesn’t mean he has to give a trashy performance. Well usually, anyway. Here Cross’ accent is all over the shop. One minute he is doing a passable Yiddish accent, then shifts to what sounds like a bad Christopher Walken impression.
On the promotional artwork in Australia, Charlton Heston gets second billing, and it is implied that he has a major role in the film. Don’t believe it! It’s barely more than a cameo, and it’s not even a good cameo. Heston plays Walter Finlay, a friend of Rudy’s (Van Damme’s character) father. Finlay meets Rudy at the airport, and disappears from the story quickly after that. A paid holiday for Heston?
So why watch The Order? Well if you’re a Van Damme fan, with the exception of JCVD (which is remarkable), this is probably the best thing he has done is ten years. It’s still crap, but good crap, if you know what I mean. And for spy fans, there’s the aforementioned airport scene – it’s so close to the set piece in Casino, I cannot believe it is coincidence or collective consciousness. The cynical side of my nature believes that somebody on the Bond story committee saw this film and liked the idea so much that they those to expand it and make it better – which they succeeded in admirably – however I would like to see a bit more originality.