Reviewed June 16th, 2002 by David Nusair
Poor Jean-Claude Van Damme. Once an international action star, heís now relegated to cheesy straight-to-video fare like The Order. Youíve got to admire the way he keeps cranking out flicks, no matter what the market (or the material) may be. In The Order, Van Damme even goes so far as to co-write the script Ė though I suspect his contribution was limited to the many lame one-liners peppered throughout the film.
Van Damme stars as some kind of illegitimate businessman who specializes in stealing and selling rare artifacts. One day, he gets a call from his archeologist father, and learns that an ancient religious scroll has been found. But when his father flies to Israel with the intention of returning the scroll, he disappears. Obviously, Van Damme picks up the case and heads to the holy city to discover what happened to his father. But he soon learns that this scroll has a much deeper meaning for a crazed cult, who use the contents of the ancient text as validation for a planned act of terror. Now, along with the help of a plucky cop (and ex-member of said cult), Van Damme must save his father and prevent the detonation of a bomb thatís been planted somewhere in Israel.
The Order is pretty much on par with the majority of Van Dammeís latest flicks, including Replicant and Desert Heat (meaning, while itís not exactly good, itís not terrible either). Thereís a certain workmanlike attitude prevailing in his movies nowadays; he knows what his audience expects and he delivers. If he would just fashion a semi-interesting story around his various high-kicks and trademark splits, he just might have something.
But Van Damme is always a pleasure to watch (well, except in Knock-Off, but nothing was pleasurable about that), and he certainly seems to be enjoying himself here. Charlton Heston even shows up at one point, delivers about three-minutes worth of expository dialogue, and is promptly killed. So, if youíve watched and enjoyed all of Van Dammeís previous flick, youíll probably dig this. But if you hated even his best films (still Timecop and Sudden Death), youíd do best to avoid this like moldy tangerines.
Audio: The Order is presented with a DD 5.1 soundtrack and itís surprisingly effective. Though the majority of the fights remain in the front speakers, there are several instances of the surround channels being put to use. Most notably, sequences in which something blows up tend to be the most effective.
Video: This anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is just as good. Itís crisp and clear, and in no way indicates how low the budget must have actually been. There are some instances of grain, but I would assume that has a lot to do with the film stock used and not this transfer.
Extras: Trailers for The One, Universal Soldier 2, and The Order.
Conclusion: Not recommended for non-Van Damme addicts.
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