It’s been about five years since I began following up on an original sci-fi action project from stuntman and coordinator James Mark. Together with Team 2X and Iron Bay Pictures and following an extensive period of production, Mark’s debut feature, Kill Order, is finally on the way and while arguably a tough road to completion, manages to wade through the tedious some and present a noteworthy feature for its target audience.
Stuntman and martial artist, actor Chris Mark debuts as David Lee, a private school student haunted by spells of mania, mysterious flashbacks and a demonic affliction that torments him on a regular basis while in his uncle’s care. It wakes up in timely fashion when a fully-armed tactical unit raids his psychology class room, ensuing a treacherous and rollicking fight to protect himself and girlfriend, May, from the small army of killers now hot on their tale. Triggered with unexplained supernatural abilities and with nowhere to run or hide, Lee’s life is one rife with questions and dangers he’ll soon have no choice but to confront with equally deadly resolve to abtain the answers he seeks.
The film undertook several changes and omissions from its early concept. It serves the film well in keeping things as kinetic as possible, notably cutting through some potentially unnecessary filler usually akin to YA sci-fi. More could have been done here, however, as it also underscores a visible lack of character development in areas where characters and relationships that needed flourishing don’t fully get to.
The narrative itself speaks greatly to its director’s intended vision enough to attribute some glossy, polished and world-building appeal as well with actor Denis Akiyama as one of the principal villains, as well as co-star Daniel Park in the pivotal role of Andre, David’s surrogate uncle. The acting is adequate from our cast in whole, and primarily from Chris who is often relegated to a limited spectrum in the drama; He does makes it work for the time alotted, nonetheless, in addition to providing stimulating fight scenery that proves exciting, brutal, and in some cases, tastefully gory; the first action scene is a worthy sample of what’s to come, which also speaks to the second fight scene between Chris and Film Combat Syndicate favorite, actor and stuntman Jonny Caines in one of the most impressive and high-octane swordfights you’ll see on film.
Kill Order offers plenty in a line-up of villains, mainly whose few principals don’t contend with our protagonist by the end, and one hopes this signals an open door for a sequel. Regardless, the third act serves the rest of the film well without falling too short of expectations to be a lost cause; Not kidding ourselves here – the crowdfunder did fall short and indeed, the film does get stifled at times and it probably could have avoided this if the means were there.
The movie itself is an ambitious and fair enough template for our director, definitely asserting itself as the Jason Bourne/The Raid blend that James intended it to be. Chris presents a well done lead performance that exhibits a strong and growing screen presence to accomodate his qualitative performance and acumen for film fighting and arrangement, and hopefully future projects, given the opportunity, will not only further help build on these, but improve and invoke much of what can be relatively accomplished in independent cinema with the right backing.
All in all, if you’re an empassioned follower of martial arts cinema and willing to give a curve or two to something roughly-edged, albeit original and peppered with slick, stylish and rewarding action, Kill Order will do you justice. It’s not a perfect film, but with today’s crop of stunt professionals like Chris and James consistently upping their game on opposite ends of the lens compared to more seasoned counterparts putting quality in the back seat, you could do a lot worse.