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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Order (2001)

"Risk is my business."
- Rudy Cafmeyer (Jean-Claude Van Damme)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 17, 2002

Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Other Stars: Charlton Heston, Sofia Milos, Brian Thompson, Ben Cross, Vernon Dobtcheff
Director: Sheldon Lettich

MPAA Rating: R for Violence
Run Time: 01h:29m:18s
Release Date: March 12, 2002
UPC: 043396084261
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C-BB- D

DVD Review

Director Sheldon Lettich has helmed a couple of moderately successful Jean-Claude Van Damme films (Double Impact and Lionheart), and here in the straight-to-video (or in this case, DVD) The Order he works to deliver a rehash of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, in a script partially penned by Van Damme himself. The script paints the high-kicking action star in a more light-hearted tone, ala Harrison Ford's Indy, and it is a nice change from the typically over-macho posturing that so many action stars fall victim to. There is still plenty of fighting and gunplay, but Van Damme is less stiff and a little more personable.

As we learn in the pre-credit sequence, an ancient religious sect known as The Order was born outside Jerusalem during the time of The Crusades, and merged Christians, Jews and Muslims under one doctrine. The sect has remained active for centuries, searching for a legendary scroll containing the missing chapter of The Order's original doctrine; jump forward to modern days, and Rudy Cafmeyer (Van Damme), an artifacts thief for hire, learns that his crusty archeologist father Oscar (Vernon Dobtcheff) has the missing scroll in his possession. When Oscar and the document end up missing, Rudy heads to Israel to locate his father, and of course that results in a B-movie overload of kicks, flips, gun battles and chases. For good measure, Lettich tosses in a sexy Israeli police officer (Sofia Milos) and a hulking villain hellbent on starting World War III (Brian Thompson).

The tone of the film has more attempts at humor than I expected, and in general the whole thing plays like it wants to be one of those old-fashioned action serials. The Order is populated with broadly painted villains and tightly choreographed fight sequences, but there is never any genuine suspense, only far too much required suspension of disbelief.

Charlton Heston pops in briefly as Professor Finley, an old friend of Rudy's father. His role is so small, it's a wonder he even bothered (must have been a decent paycheck). Heston's big moment is the old movie chestnut of the "wisecracking but frantic passenger during a car chase" scene.

The Order is not a bad looking film, and Lettich fills the screen with some beautiful location footage from Israel. Unfortunately he also includes a couple of silly car chases that throw in all of the B-movie action clich&eaccute;s, including a multitude of crashes through assorted street vendor carts, luggage and a mountain of water jugs.

Most Van Damme fans want plenty of fight sequences, and it seems like there are a decent amount here. Lots of kicking, spinning, leaping, jumping, and pummeling occurs throughout, with Van Damme doing his best to adopt the tired, exasperated attitude of Harrison Ford's Indy. None of the action is necessarily exciting, nor is it even particularly creative.

Perhaps Van Damme is looking to move into a new phase of his career, where he is less threatening and can be more related to as an action lead. Will hardcore fans bite? That remains to be seen, but The Order even leaves a sequel-ready conclusion premise open for another installment, should this film achieve moderate success.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Columbia TriStar has presented The Order in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full-frame version on the flip side. Colors are bright, almost golden, with natural flesh tones throughout. Some of the fight sequences in the catacombs have some detail loss due to less than solid black levels, but the daylight scenes pick up the slack. Source material is very clean, and appears to be an almost blemish free transfer, with minimal compression issues.


Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The solitary 5.1 English Dolby Digital mix has moments where it shines, but for the most part sounds like a well-mixed 2.0 surround track. Imaging is minimal, and the surround channels only occasionally come to life with a random music cue or minor ambient sound. The sound stage is not as enveloping as I would have liked, though it does offer some decent bass rumble. On the plus side, dialogue is clean and clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring The One, Universal Soldier: The Return
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: For extras, Columbia TriStar has given us three trailers, 28 chapters and subtitles in English and French.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

With Jean-Claude Van Damme's name above the title, you know you're in for macho B-movie action. That's what you get here, in a far better visual package than Lettich's Dolph Lundgren hokum-fest The Last Warrior.

Fans of Van Damme might be a bit shocked at his fluffier demeanor here, but there is still more than enough kicks to the face to satisfy, I imagine.


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