Kill Order cannot be a finished movie. There’s no way this wasn’t a workprint accidentally sent to the distributors in place of a final product. I understand that low-budget action filmmaking has its niche audience and that underdeveloped plots and wooden acting can be overlooked in favor of solid fight scenes and choreography. But there isn’t a single part of Kill Order that didn’t feel rushed, phoned in, or under-rehearsed. Even among legions of Redbox shlock, this film stands apart for its shocking incompetence.
Consider Chris Mark, brother of the film’s director James Mark and the actor who plays the protagonist David Lee, a disaffected teenager living with amnesia and a shadowy past. He’s routinely plagued by vivid, violent hallucinations that send him into psychotic episodes. During these moments of hysteria, if you really pay attention to Mark’s’ face, it’s difficult to tell if he’s screaming or laughing. He fares no better during dramatic scenes where he’s forced to actually act, spending the entirety of the film vacillating between dumbfounded confusion and dumbfounded fury. Not that Kill Order was meant to show off his acting range. Mark is a stunt performer by trade, not an actor, and in the great tradition of Aaron and Chuck Norris’ Sidekicks (1992), the film is essentially a stag reel of action scenes and stunts cobbled together around a flimsy plot by one brother for the other brother to perform: David is actually an escaped test subject in a sinister project where orphans were transformed into super soldiers through…some poorly defined process that I think involves superpowers from another dimension. Evil government agents in black suits and shades come after him, then other test subjects with superpowers, then a shadowy cabal of businessmen. If I’m making this sound reasonable and coherent, it’s in spite of the film’s nonsensical storytelling.
What truly galls me is how derivative the film is. David’s origin is a slapdash counterfeit of Marvel Comics’ Wolverine; he even has a nemesis like Deadpool who fights him with katanas he wears over his shoulders in a giant “X.” There are stereotypical evil businessmen who plot and scheme and evil scientists who torture and giggle. (One of these scientists even has the audacity to respond to one horrified guard’s startled “My god!” with “God? There’s no god here!”) The fight scenes are positively laughable. I have no doubt Mark is a talented martial artist, but it’s impossible to be sure when the fights are shot almost entirely in medium close-ups with shaky cam and obnoxious editing. The CGI effects whenever one of the fighters uses their super-powers looks ripped from an iPhone app. And some of the wire work is downright insulting. The first big action set-piece in the film comes when a group of armed soldiers barge into David’s classroom to arrest him. During the fight, David kicks one of them clear across the classroom and their mid air trajectory shifts in the middle of its arc like a magic bullet so the body can properly smash through a window. I wish I could do the same with a copy of this film.