Order of the Black Eagle, The (1987)

Directed by Worth Keeter
Vestron Video VHS

Duncan Jax is a secret agent. A suave one. He’s part 007, part Indiana Jones with a touch of MacGyver thrown in. If you happen to be a Neo-Nazi army and you have an evil hideout in a temple deep within the “South American jungles”, you have hit upon a nefarious combination that will get you a Jax’s ass kicking. I don’t care if the head neo-Nazi is played by the Fat Sheriff from House of Death. I don’t care if you’ve got Hitler’s cryogenically frozen body stashed away. I don’t care how many satellites you want to blow up with however many lasers you have. You won’t beat Jax. If his best friend “Boon” the Baboon is there, you shouldn’t even try.

The Order of the Black Eagle is a boisterous, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Bond rip-off made in and around the Earl Owensby Studios in North Carolina. So, that means there are a lot of great locations. They make NC look like quite a few different spots in the world. But, there are also a few suspect locations. The “South American jungles” have an Old West town with a cantina stuck in the middle of them. While there, Jax and a team of mercenaries are attacked by Mexican Banditos. The whole time I couldn’t help noticing that the street is surrounded by good old North Carolina woods, no jungles in sight.

All nitpicking.

What you want to know is this: is there action? If so, how much? Are the Nazis goofy? There is action, a lot of it. They do not skimp. Worth Keeter does a good job of shooting it and keeping the excitement high. There is quite a variety of action. Some involving baboons, some involving speedboats. The Nazis are goofy. They get shot and thrown around and fall from heights a lot. That’s awesome. The head Nazi does refer to the laser expert they kidnap as the “Jew Doctor” at one point. That seemed a little off. Nazis in these types of movies need to be straight out of Hogan’s Heroes. We can laugh at their goofiness only when they are kept at the same level as Eric Von Zipper from the beach party movies. Apart from that strange slip, though, the movie knows what it’s doing.

Jax sweeps into the Nazi hideout with “Boon” in tow. He romances a lady or two. He wisecracks a lot. He punches out some guys. He shoots some others. He’s got a receding hairline, which I applaud. Vanity should not be the number one concern of a man out saving the world. His accent doesn’t seem quite right. He has a light British accent but he looks more like a good old boy who would say something like “’Boon’! Crank the Skynyrd! We’re huntin’ us some Nazis!”

Overall, the film looks like it had a decent budget behind it. There are some cheap moments here and there. The room with Hitler in it looks slightly chintzy. The temple the Nazis are in has walls that are painted to look like stone, rather than stone walls. More nitpicking. This film’s got verve and it’s fun to watch. I’d team it up with Lightning Bolt, as two fine examples of 007-ripoffs from very different times. The Order of the Black Eagle also comes equipped with one of my favorite confusing moments in this type of film. A moment I look forward to whenever I watch it.

Duncan Jax and “Boon” land a glider on the front lawn of his boss’s mansion. His boss is having a fancy dinner party. Jax hands his boss a treasure he was sent to retrieve. Then, Jax goes inside the boss’s mansion with “Boon” in his arms. His boss yells, rather aggressively, “Be here tomorrow morning. 10 o’clock sharp!” And I always think, “Isn’t Jax already there? He’s going inside your house.” Wouldn’t you just say “I want to see you at ten tomorrow”? And, are appointments between secret agents set by yelling in the middle of crowds? Maybe it’s code for “Job well done, Jax! But you know that, emotionally, I just can’t say that.” It’s an odd moment that makes me smile in a bemused manner.

There are about 100 other moments like that in this movie. Some intentional, some unintentional, some who knows? They’re all worth watching, several times. Then, you can boggle at the Fat Sheriff from House of Death playing that damn Nazi. You can laugh with the antics of ‘Boon’. Argue with your friends about whether or not “Duncan” is a good name for a hero. Follow that with the thought that this movie is a sequel. The first one is called Unmasking The Idol. Then, we can sleep soundly.

What a world.