Sheldon Lettich might not be a household name but he has been involved in a couple of classic action movies, most notably having written Rambo III and he also directed 4 movies starring The Muscles From Brussels: Jean-Claude van Damme. The Order is their third pairing, and made on the other side of Jean-Claude’s career-spectrum: the DTV-era. Lettich was also responsible for Van Damme’s early outings Double Impact and Wrong Bet and would later direct him in The Hard Corps. Both movies were made before Van Damme went on to do big studio movies. Clearly Van Damme likes to work with the director’s he’s already acquainted with considering he did multiple movies with Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark, Peter Hyams and his son John.
In The Order Van Damme plays Rudy Cafmeyer, an international thief whose father is an archeologist. One day his father suddenly ventures off to Israel only to disappear. Rudy goes after him but finds himself being thwarted by the police and a religious cult lead by Cyrus Jacob (Brian Thompson).
One of the most trivial elements of The Order is a role played by Charlton Heston. Heston plays a friend of Rudy’s father and awaits him at the airport in Israel. 5 minutes and a chase scene later he’s gunned down and out of the movie. Legendary actor Heston’s final live-action movie was a 5 minute glorified cameo in a DTV Van Damme movie. How the hell did that happen?
The Order is a movie with a very light tone. Van Damme plays it as if he’s in on the joke and goes through a lot of action scenes with a smile (and sometimes paint or a beard) on his face, especially the scenes concerning the stealing of priceless artifacts. On the other hand the villains here are a religious cult who’re going to detonate a bomb underneath a facility where thousands of Muslims are coming to pray due to Ramadan. Not quite a politically correct plot for a movie with such a breezy tone it has Van Damme dressed up as a knight/prophet in the prologue and him running through the streets dressed as an Orthodox Jew. You have to see it to believe it:
The Order never finds the right balance between comedy and serious action, making the movie a bit of a hit and miss. There are some puzzling choices made here and the plot is stupid to say the least. The cult needs Rudy’s father to lead them to an underground location with the aid of a 1000 year old map, and the location is underneath the place where the Muslims come to pray. Why would a 1000 year old map lead you to a location which was obviously built much later? And how difficult is it to find the entrance to an underground location of which the above ground location is known.
Another peculiar thing is the fact the female police lieutenant Dalia (Sofia Milos) has the tendency to walk with her shirt at least two buttons too many open. I know it’s hot and she’s to be the female sex symbol of the movie, but it just didn’t make sense for her character. Especially since every other officer has every button closed.
The Order is a movie that goes from fun to boring and back again. One of the reasons for this is because it’s a movie filled with chase scenes, especially the first hour. Every other scene people are chasing each other; on cars, motorcycles and by foot. From airport runways to the rooftops of an Isreali town, people are constantly on the run. It’s one of the elements that gets boring en repetitive very quickly and points out how little there is to this movie concerning an actual plot.