“Unleash the Power”
Directed by Sheldon Lettich
Starring Jean Claude Van Damme, Charlton Heston and Brian Thompson
Rudy (Van Damme) is a burglar specialising in rare antiquities. When his father, a professor, goes missing in Israel, he sets out to find him, aided by his father’s friend Findley (Heston), who is promptly shot. Rudy runs around Jerusalem a bit, causing mayhem, then gets tangled up in a plot involving an ancient order which aims to unite Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Seems the new leader of The Order (as it is officially known) is up to no good. He’s called Cyrus and played by Brian Thompson; what a shock that he’s evil. Anyway, he wants to blow up the Dome of the Rock or some such and start a worldwide, tri-faith jihad then rule what’s left, and only Rudy and an Israeli security cop ex of The Order herself can stop him.
Which of course they do.
What’s wrong with it?
The Order is a mess, not knowing if it wants to be dramatic or amusing, and ending up farcical. Van Damme has seen better days – and even those weren’t much good – and the supporting cast isn’t great. Thompson makes a great goon of course, and Chuck is da bomb until he takes one in the chest, but the rest is dire. Also, the Order themselves don’t make a great deal of sense; they seem very public to be professing such ‘heresy’ in Jerusalem.
What’s right with it?
Not very much, really.
How bad is it really?
Well, it isn’t painfully bad, but it’s not exactly memorable or anything. It passes the time without making you want to gut yourself with a bottle opener, and that’s more than I can say for most of the films I watch.
Fleeing the Israeli security police, Rudy ‘hilariously’ disguises himself as an Hassidic Jew (see, it’s funny ’cause he’s got the hat and the bangs and…hem). He ducks down an alley and to his horror ends up in the Muslim part of town, where the camera lingers on evil glowers from the locals: Angry Muslim grocer; angry halal butcher; angry Muslim donkey.
The angry donkey makes it art.
What’s up with…?
- The Order? They’re not some secret conspiracy, but rather an openly practicing group who go out in Jerusalem and claim that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are one faith – and they act all surprised when someone blows up their leader! They also seem to be all over the police, which seems odd; you’d think there’d be more Jews involved in Israeli state security.
- The extent of the security cop’s cleavage? I’m sure she should be wearing a tie or something.
- The comedy Hassidic Jew chase?
- Angry donkey?
Production values: Shiny and understated. Some nice establishing shots of Jerusalem and decent camerawork. Then they go an ruin it all with the dodgy explosion at the end. 10
Dialogue and performances: Uninspired and uninspiring. Aside from Chuck, naturally; and the angry donkey. 13
Plot and execution: The plot is thin and heavily padded, and the film runs around like a headless chicken for at least half and hour in the middle. 16
Randomness: The entire middle section is random, plus a bunch of incidental ‘but waits’. There’s also the wacky, wacky ‘Rudy steals a Faberge Egg’ scene, including comedy camouflage make-up. 15
Waste of potential: There’s good mileage in secret religious orders, but this is no worse than most attempts to milk it. 9