As you may remember, Order of One: Kung Fu Killing Spree was the move title that made me risk five bucks on one of the bad movie collections I've been making my way through. I'm happy to say I was right. For the first time since I started this little experiment, I got to see a movie that was actually enjoyable to watch and I would recommend for a bad movie night. As is often the case, the thing that made the movie was that the people making it were in on the joke. They were fully aware of their limited capabilities and considerable disadvantages and found a way to turn them into something that wasn't a steaming pile of zombie shit.
The movie opens with a reporter in a diner interviewing some guy for a story, though before we can discover the nature of the story a couple of cops come in with a prisoner they're transferring to a high security prison. Then some lady assassins dressed like Austin Powers extras show up and start shooting up the place. The convict escapes the diner and one of the assassins follows him, and during this fight we get the first hint these people might know what they're doing when the convict uses an INTERNAL ENERGY SUMMONS! to break his handcuffs. We know he's using an INTERNAL ENERGY SUMMONS! because it appears on the screen in great big letters in front of a red star burst.
The convict gets away, but not before the reporter jumps into the car he's stealing (which happens to belong to the reporter) carrying a sword he got from the interview subject. We know from the opening narration that this sword was forged from the Spear of Destiny, so it's chock full of Jesus blood and magical powers. The reporter explains that they have to get the sword to a group called The Order. After they exposition, we get the second clue that these guys know what they're doing in the form of a scene break: freeze frame, fade to monochrome, zoom in. Ok, they know they're making a bad 70s action movie. Good for them! Pretty much every scene ends like that, with appropriate accompanying music.
Next we meet Mr. Park, who is obviously the bad guy because he's stern and Korean and grunts a lot. He wants the sword and dispatches his minions to find it. This leads to a couple hours of the reporter and the convict (Sonny) running into Park's henchmen, often because they fall for really obvious traps like free beer at a strip club (because a movie like this has to have a scene at a strip club) or a sexy lady with car trouble. Nearly all the people they fight are basically wearing Halloween costumes. In addition to groups like the mod lady assassins and some rockabilly-esque grease monkeys, there are all different types of gangsters, the expected Kung Fu fighters, a cowboy, and so on. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a pirate in there somewhere that I just missed.
The fight scenes are mostly competent and what they lack in expertise they make up for with super loud sound effects, gratuitously breakable walls, and--in the case of gunfights--overly bright muzzle flashes, all accompanied by a soundtrack that mixes equal parts Shaft, disco, and Double Dragon-style video games. And of course there are more moves so cool they have to be highlighted on-screen, including SKULL DESTRUCTION FIST!, EYEBALL EXIT PUNCH!, and HEART EXTRACTION FIST! While Sonny uses most of these, a few others get in on the action. One of the more prominent thugs (kind of a street hustler/pimp type with the ability to see the future during the full moon) uses something called the SZECHUAN DON PALM (whatever that is), and even the reporter takes down a bad guy with the DRUNKEN POOL CUE SWIPE! A bit later in the movie, we briefly get an indication that these are kind of a Scott Pilgrim thing when Sonny enters a building with a pistol and the screen goes into FPS mode, complete with stamina meter and ammo count.
So yeah, it's really goofy, some of the acting isn't great, and a couple of the fights go on a little too long, but it's fun to watch. The real advantage of intentionally trying to make the movie look 30+ years out of date is that it makes the mistakes a lot less blatant. While some of the screw-ups are obviously unintentional, some things are done badly on purpose, so there are times where the line between bad movie making and genre fidelity is very, very blurry. If you enjoyed Fist of Jesus, you might like this one.
Takeaway: Finally found one that didn't make me want to tear my eyes out. Unfortunately, I'm less than halfway through the first collection. Hopefully I can figure out how to do the EYEBALL EXIT PUNCH! on myself.