|Star:||Jean Claude Van Damme, Sofia Milos, Brian Thompson, Charlton Heston|
|Cert / Year:||15 - R / 2001|
A crusading knight Charles Le Vaillant (Van Damme with a beard) sick of the death all around him finds religion and creates his own order. However the final chapter of his holy scriptures is lost before he can inform his followers. Fast forward to the modern day and this leads to a problem within the order as it has factionalized into those who think the scriptures mean a holy war, and those who think they mean peace. Enter Rudy Cafmeyer (Van Damme with bizarrely dyed hair) a thief whose archeologist father has found and translated the missing chapter. He must now travel to Israel to rescue his father and stop a holy war.
Ok so all Jean Claude Van Damme movies since the mid nineties have sucked totally. Look no further than The Quest to see what I mean, and don't even mention the abysmal Knock Off to me. So it is with a massive amount of trepidation that I approach yet another Van Damme action fest, let alone one with such a hokey pseudo religious story line.
Hold on a minute though this film isn't a total disaster, no classic for sure, but not too bad. The story is ok, yep it is a bit hokey and certainly not that original but it does have a lot of action in it. Van Damme barely walks a step before a fight breaks out or a car chase happens, and this really does distract from the plots weaknesses.
The fights themselves are a bit of a problem. While impressive in scale and aim, due to Jean Claude Van Damme's limited fighting style they lack to required punch (kick boxing gedit). It is so obvious that in recent films he has been trying to copy Jackie Chan, and this film does show some similarities to The Accidental Spy. But no matter how well you stage the fights and try to include the stunts you need the ability to carry them off, Van Damme hasn't the training or expertise. What you end up with are some mildly entertaining if not that impressive fights that pail into insignificance compared to Jackie Chan or Jet Li.
On the positive side of things Sheldon Lettich shows some nice touches in direction. There are some unusual little visual effects that really help the story along, and direction of the car chase is very good. Of course things do go a little pear shaped during the fighting scenes as he is forced to concentrate on the less than special moves of Van Damme. He does show promise I would like to see what he could do with a real action star. Another positive comes in the form of Sofia Milos who adds a bit of acting ability to the proceedings. Be warned though, despite what the advertising of this film indicates Charlton Heston does not have major role. He is limited to a short but entertaining cameo.
The Order is about is about the best modern Jean Claude Van Damme movie I have seen, of course in a wider context this doesn't amount to much. It is action packed, shows nice directorial touches, and has a couple of likeable performances. Although these are all plus points they can't over come the general lack of ability possessed by Jean Claude Van Damme. In the end those who know no better may enjoy this film, the rest of us will stick with the likes of Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
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