Friday, November 27, 2009

The Order of the Black Eagle

Imagine, in your mind's eye, a movie that is a combination of James Bond, the A-Team, and Where Eagles Dare. Sit quietly until the image forms. Got it?

I can pretty much guarantee that whatever you imagined was nothing like The Order of the Black Eagle.

I caught this movie on my digital cable's on-demand menu. The brief description suggested that it was a movie about a spy sent to investigate a Nazi presence in South America. This sounded like, at the very least, excellent inspirational material for roleplaying adventures, so I sat down and watched it. And I don't think I can effectively describe how astonishingly bad it is.

It starts out like a typical Bond film: the hero has a quick little mini-adventure that has nothing to do with the rest of the story, then reports in for briefing, gets assigned a new mission, meets an attractive young woman, gets his spy gadgets, does some spy stuff, falls in bed with the attractive young woman. And, of course, there's a maniacal mega-villain, and his horde of minions, and several menancing lieutenants. And an ancient South American temple with a proton beam projector mounted on top.

Right after the spy is captured and escapes (again, typical Bond stuff) he runs smack into a group of PC's from a roleplaying game. There's the "tough as nails but still beautiful" mercenary captain, the "high explosives expert" guy, the "likes to throw and use knives" gal, the "super immensely strong" guy, the "quick draw six-shooting cowboy" guy, and the "likes to fire an M-60 from the hip" guy. This is where the movie switches from James Bond to the A-Team. Good thing, too, since the spy has used all of his gadgets once, and by the rules of a spy movie, he can never use them again.

The spy and his new fighting buddies storm the Nazi camp and blow it up in an extended bang-bang boom-boom sequence. You can just about hear the A-Team theme while this is going on. The villain and his lieutenants are defeated, the proton beam is destroyed, and the Free World is saved for another day. This is where the Bond movie picks up again, as the spy flies off with his female lead to have an intimate little victory celebration of their own.

All pretty straightforward. As plots go, it's not High Art, but it's on par with most action movies. With the right script and the right director, it could have been pretty entertaining. Instead ... well.

The dialogue is stilted and cringe-worthy, and the attempts at humor are childish and weak. But what really sends this movie over the edge into "I cannot believe I'm really watching this" territory is not the plot, the acting, the script, or the props; no, friends, this time the devil is truly in the details. Details such as:
  • The spy's trusty sidekick - a trained baboon
  • The "neo-Nazi" uniforms (gray with bright red pockets and lapels)
  • The government-issue spy hovercraft, which for some reason has a bright orange paint job and a tiger-shark grin (and is probably a recreational vehicle one of the producers borrowed from a friend of his)
  • The hot-air balloon concealed in the camouflaged spy boat (why? who knows?)
  • The gelatin-mold Hitler
  • The baboon's armored tank
Every time you think this movie can't get any dumber, it surpasses itself. My jaw was on the floor about halfway through and stayed down until the credits. In fact, the only saving grace of this movie is how ridiculous it is; if you and your friends are into watching bad cinema together and shouting at the screen MST3K-style, this is the movie to watch.