Action Heroes – Van Damme: The Order


Van Damme was well on his way with the DTV releases. After Inferno came this one; but it is worth a peek if for only a few reasons. Firstly, it is one of the many films he co-scripted, but also had directed by Sheldon Lettich (also responsible for many Van Damme scripts, like Bloodsport, as well as directing the Belgium lunk in films like AWOL and Double Impact).

Another reason is that main villain duties are taken on by Brian Thomson who gets a bad guy badge of honour in our book as he has also taken on Stallone (Cobra) and also appeared in previous Van Damme outing AWOL. He also looked like a poor man’s Arnie back then, but whatever.

The last reason which is my favourite, and yet most bizarre, is this. This is the only place where you will ever find Jean-Claude Van Damme and Charlton Heston sharing the screen. Yes that JCVD, and yes That Chuck Heston!

How the hell did Charlton Heston at the end of his career (this was his second to last appearance on film!) end up in a film with JCVD. It was odd enough when Van Damme directed a film, with Roger Moore no less (The Quest), or when Seagal directed his first feature (On Deadly Ground) and had Michael Caine in it. But Charlton Heston!  Be-Hur!  Moses! (Funny as Van Damme looks like Moses at the start of this film in a centuries ago sequence!).

Now don’t expect Van Damme to start spurting Shakespeare, or Heston to deliver High Kicks or getting his arse out. No instead it’s a bit of an almost pointless cameo where he shows up as a friend of the family, grumbles and shouts at a few people, ends up in a bit of action with Van Damme and is then plugged quicker than he arrived. And like that – he is gone!

Then Ben Cross shows up to play the cop who gets in the way who is secretly in with the bad guys as JCVD then proceeds to globe-trot from the villains in a weird Quasi Indiania Jones type of adventure. The tone of the film is at time very comic – especially at the end when his father reveals plans after this escapade to go chasing after the cities of gold. We are then treated to a shot of almost every hit in the film with comedy Jewish music in the background (Yes Van Damme wears one of those Jewish disguises earlier in the film with the fake beard and hard etc). It’s a weird end as you think you are watching the end of a Jackie Chan movie. And there is the odd outtake used here. Very light hearted.

I suppose you can also argue that this film is Van Damme doing another Dual role as he plays the afore mention knight in the opening sequence as well as the main character. So another point to Van Damme there.

But seriously – this film is a bit messy, the main villain is terrible (sorry Brian) and the mess in between lurks between bad editing (damn those stunt men getting in the way of actors doing it themselves!) and competently executed.  A great BAD thing is in the opening sequence when we see knights massacring a bunch of people. We get shots of men and women attacked by men on horseback, fired being started, people being slashes, and then randomly, someone breaks a large pot with their sword!!!  A pot?  Ooo the violence!

So this one is best sucked up with some beer and good company – maybe watching a coupke of his other direct to DVD stuff like Wake of Death which is more of a serious natured film (and better shot for that matter).

Steven Hurst

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