a critiQal film review The Order (2001)

Plot: An artifact thief (Van Damme) is worried when his father (Heston) is suddenly kidnapped. His father was last seen in Israel, so he sets off to find him. His only clue to his father's whereabouts is an ancient religious scroll. Now he must find his father while keeping the scroll safe from a religious sect, who want the scroll, at any cost.

516 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 34s)
  • ...just awful - even for a Van Damme film.

I was in our local Blockbuster® the other day, and saw The Order. I had never even heard of it, a bad sign right there usually, and decided to rent it.

It stars Jean Claude Van Damme, who’s made some decent movies (Timecop (1994) is one of the better ones) and some not so good movies (Universal Soldier: The Return comes to mind). This is another of the not so good ones.

The plot was a bit stretched in The Order. Van Damme’s father is kidnapped by a religious sect, who needs the scroll he has, because it can help them in some way (they said why, but I had kind of tuned out by that point).

The movie doesn’t really fit together well around that plot, either. It’s mostly just scenes of Van Damme kicking butt, and that’s about it. At one point, he escapes from the police just to go around kicking more butt. They could have cut out almost that whole scene, and the plot would not have been affected in the least. At a current running time of 89 minutes, the movie would have been just a little too short to be called a feature without that scene, so that must be why it’s there.

The characters in The Order were poorly done. Van Damme’s character was there just to show off some of his fancy fighting moves, for the most part. The main cop in the film is female (of course – got to have a love interest), and runs around most of the movie speaking better English than Van Damme, even though she’s an Israeli cop. She also is apparently missing a button or two on her uniform.

Charlton Heston is here too – I feel sorry for him, if his career has dropped this low – at least he’s not in it very long. Maybe that was in his contract. Even the religious villain, who I swear I’ve seen before, basically just gives an evil glare and brandishes an amazingly sharp (yet dull-looking) sword throughout the movie.

The special effects were in The Order just to back up how badly Van Damme is kicking people’s butts. From a jeep flipping over and exploding in mid-air (c’mon!) to an obviously green-screened explosion, I was greatly disappointed. I haven’t seen special effects this bad in quite a while.

All in all, The Order is not one of Van Damme’s better movies. When people comment on Van Damme negatively, I’m sure this is one of the movies they point to. The problem is, it’s not all his fault. Even if you had put an amazing actor in his role, the movie still would not stand up. As for the features on the DVD? All you get is a couple of trailers. Not worth it.

If you’re a Van Damme fan, my recommendation is to stay away from The Order. For those of you who don’t like Van Damme, make sure you watch this film to brush up on all the stuff you can point to next time you’re having a Van Damme dis-fest.

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