Kill Order marks the directorial debut of James Mark, a veteran stunt coordinator and fight choreographer whose work you may have seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Pacific Rim and 2014’s RoboCop.
It’s difficult to figure out who this film was intended for. Its young lead (Chris Mark) and initial high-school setting (not to mention a title shared with a well-known young adult novel) suggest that the film had a youthful audience in mind, but the frequent violence and matter-of-fact headshots suggest otherwise.
The story is essentially that our protagonist, David, goes to school only for the class to be stormed by men with guns who are only interested in him. Their attack causes him to go Super Saiyan (indicated by a dodgy, glowing, blue eyes special effect) and fight back, leading to a man hunt across the city with David beating up everyone who attempts to stop him along the way. Throughout all of this, David is dealing with some traumatic memory fragments that he doesn’t understand but would seem to indicate why he has supernaturally powerful martial-arts abilities.
It’s basically The Bourne Identity, but instead of amnesia, the kid only had the memories specifically related to his super-soldier powers wiped. Having said that, that comparison might be somewhat unfair to The Bourne Identity, because that film actually does contain some story and character development.
That’s not to say that Kill Order’s writing is devoid of quality. Despite the dominant clichés, there are a handful of genuinely interesting supernatural elements that get thrown into the mix as things progress and help to keep the proceedings vaguely fresh and interesting.
Truly, the film’s biggest sin is a complete lack of resolution. We have no idea about the likelihood of a Kill Order sequel, but the climax of the film certainly seems to be relying on one which makes for a fairly unsatisfying experience.
Kill Order is largely exactly what you’d expect from a film written and directed by a professional fight choreographer in that it boils down to a series of fight-sequences flimsily draped over the loosest plot imaginable.
To be fair to it, the fight scenes are produced to a very high standard. They’re not quite on par with stuff you’d see in Daredevil or Oldboy, but they’re still all very impressive. Each one has clearly been meticulously planned and rehearsed to the point that they’re thoroughly entertaining, if frequently overlong, standalone pieces. They’re also peppered with wire-work, predominantly used to allow David to pick up and throw his enemies across the room in a way that’s far more satisfying that it should be.
It’s definitely a film where you can tell that the budget was well spent. CGI is used sparingly and largely only exists to compliment practical stunt-work, David’s iffy blue eyes notwithstanding.
Overall, Kill Order feels less like a feature film and more like an expensive show-reel for James Mark’s stunt choreography. If that’s all you’re hoping for then the film should leave you very satisfied. If, however, when you watch a movie, you need a reason to care about the people beating each other up, then it’s a frustrating film that doesn’t reach its full potential.
KILL ORDER / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JAMES MARK / STARRING: CHRIS MARK, ALAIN MOUSSI, DANIEL PARK, MELEE HUTTON, DENIS AKIYAMA, JONNY CAINS, SCOTT CAVALHEIRO, JESSICA CLEMENT, AMOS CRAWLEY / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 6TH