Review: 'Kill Order', Genre-Defying Smash 'Em Up Wastes Its Potential

Do you have a Die Hard fantasy? Do you imagine that, one day, bad guys will bust into your office and you alone will have to fight them off and save the day? I do, and I’m sure I’m not alone. James Mark obviously shares my dream. He wrote and directed a whole movie about it: the new genre-defying martial arts smash-‘em-up film Kill Order.

Curiously, before it goes into the fight-off-a-bunch-of-dudes plot that eats up most of its run time, the film instead introduces itself with a shockingly intense horror prologue. The jarring opening moments are in a sterile hospital room. Our protagonist is writhing in agony while chained to a chair, with a demon ordering him to kill everyone he sees. While it is an impressive and hardcore way to start a movie, what’s odd about this scene is that the tone is wildly different from everything that follows. The demonic figure stays around, fighting the hero from within his own mind, but any sense that this movie is out to frighten you goes away as soon as the title appears.

We’re then reintroduced to our hero David (Chris Mark), an awkward high school student trying to ignore his secret murder-demon and live a normal life. Suddenly, the Die Hard part of the movie kicks into gear as a big SWAT team of guys with guns burst into his school and hold his whole class hostage. Understanding the danger he’s in, David gives in to his demon and allows it to take him over. He then powers up like a Dragonball Z character (his eyes literally glow blue with killer-demon strength). The David-Demon kills all the bad guys for about ten minutes before regaining his composure and escaping. Secret agents working for the task force he just took out have a cryptic action-movie conversation about how their boss needs him captured for their mysterious bad-guy plans to work, and that’s pretty much it.

The rest of the movie is either villains having villain conversations like that one, or scenes of David fighting and killing more of these random dudes in new and creative ways. Unfortunately, neither of these types of scenes carry much weight. David has superpowers, so we know he can’t possibly lose any of these fights, and we’re not really given any context for this endless stream of bad guys or what it is they want exactly, so the scenes of dialogue don’t really do much either.

What’s frustrating is that all of the individual battle sequences in Kill Order are cool to watch. Chris Mark is clearly a talented martial artist, and the fight choreography is flashy and fun to watch. James Mark knows how to shoot action scenes well and highlight Chris’s abilities. It’s just that none of these things come together to make a feature length film. Any of these scenes would make an awesome short video on YouTube, but they simply can’t carry a story any longer than that, and trying to connect them through a singular plot only serves to crush their potential. I now have to wonder why a demon is telling this high schooler to kill people, and why he’s invincible, and why Japanese businessmen want him dead. There are all kinds of other plot threads, and everything is explained only at the end of a full length movie, when it’s far too late in the game to help you understand what you’ve seen. Couple that with an overreliance on cheesy looking CGI effects and you get a final product that’s nowhere near as good as the talent behind it.

There’s a lot of potential in Kill Order, it just doesn’t come together the way I would have hoped. I can imagine this being fun if you’re just clicking through Kung Fu movies on Netflix, but past that it’s more a demo reel of the raw talent these artists have and will hopefully put to greater use in future projects.

2.5 out of 5