Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Jason Cavalier’s Order of One: Kung Fu Killing Spree.
Alright, let me see if I’ve got this straight. Order of One: Kung Fu Killing Spree centers around a couple of hapless heroes that stumble across a sword forged from the spear that pierced Christ. Unfortunately for them a local crime lord wants it and will stop at nothing to get it from them. Their only hope is to bring this sword to “the Order” for safekeeping, but the crime lord continues to send his pawns after them. It becomes more convoluted from there, but that’s the basic gist of the plot.
To start things off, this movie looks like absolute garbage. This isn’t due to a lack of effort, just a lack of budget and maybe talent. They really tried to make this look like an actual movie by getting kind of inventive with the camerawork and editing, but it doesn’t really do much when everything looks like it was filmed on an iPhone. On top of that the dutch angles get pretty old after you start seeing them every other shot. Almost the entire movie is cocked to the side to the point where I think I started tilting my head to compensate. Then there’s the issue of the aspect ratio. Have you ever watched a widescreen DVD on a fullscreen television? Remember the black bars at the top and bottom? This movie has those, but they’re on the top, bottom, left, and right sides. The movie just sits inside of this awkward black frame. This would be fine since I can zoom in using my remote, but there are a handful of scenes that have subtitles and of course they all sit in the black void under the screen, meaning I have to watch it in this awkward hybrid aspect ratio.
Like I mentioned before, they tried, and unfortunately this is actually the big downfall of this movie. They clearly knew that they didn’t have the budget for a big action spectacular, so they attempted to make something “bad on purpose” and this always backfires because it ruins the joke. Some of their decisions here are just confusing. The whole film is a nod to 70s thrillers and action films, but they break that aesthetic on numerous occasions. They toss in these clip art pop ups from time to time that looks like they came right out of the Adam West Batman TV series. There’s an entire section where a HUD appears that’s meant to look like a first person shooter video game. Things like that just totally ruin the retro effect, but I guess the CGI muzzle flashes and blood splatter had done that already. There’s also this awkward transition where they freeze frame, shift to black and white, and slowly zoom in. They use this transition over twenty times and it just becomes obnoxious.
At least I could get some enjoyment of the kung fu in this so-called “kung fu killing spree,” right? Nope! The martial arts range from terrible to less terrible, though they do get slightly better as they go on. There’s an extended fight scene in a garage that has some decent stuff in it and for all intents and purposes should be really entertaining, but feels utterly lifeless. There are some decent flips and kicks on display, plenty of characters crashing through walls, and some nice blood splatter, but the main fight scene goes on for so long and is filmed so poorly that it’s just a mess to watch. I appreciate a lot of the effort they put into putting so much action in this movie, but it just gets boring because I didn’t care about anything that was happening.
The characters here are just bad. Some of them have a bit of personality, but they essentially exist as a long series of terrible catchphrases. The attempted one-liners are plentiful and awful and not a single one of these actors has the charisma to pull them off, but the writing is doing them no favors. This is just painful.
After last week’s success with Robo Vampire, I thought another martial arts movie might do the trick, but Order of One: Kung Fu Killing Spree is just an awful mess. I kind of feel bad being so harsh on this one because of the clear amount of dedication and effort put in, but it doesn’t work. If a friend of mine had shown me this and said that he filmed it in a couple of weekends with no budget I may have said it was pretty good, but since this was released to the public and I can find it at the store I can only judge this as a commercially released film. Nothing about this feels professional. Jason Cavelier is more of a stunt man than a director and it shows. The martial arts themselves, especially where he’s concerned, are all serviceable, but the movie just isn’t put together all that well and the budget destroys any chance it may have had. Skip this one.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.