I know it’s a cliche, but some movies are so bad that they are good, and The Order of the Black Eagle is one of them. It’s like four people with too much money got together and said, ‘Hey, let’s make a film!’ Each of these four people contributed a style of film that they wanted made – one said ‘James Bond’, another said a ‘Spaghetti Western’, the third said ‘like Raiders of the Lost Ark‘, and the fourth person in the room said, ‘I liked those Clint Eastwood movies with the Oran Utan’. So armed with that information scriptwriter Phil Behrens came up with a story that appeased these would be movie moguls…and the result is one of the most stupid but riotously entertaining movies ever made.
The merriment begins with vintage newsreel footage of Adolph Hitler ranting and raving — all the things we expect from Hitler. The footage fades to black and the words ‘THEY SAID IT COULDN’T HAPPEN AGAIN’ flash on the screen. Hmmm. Ominous. Then the film jumps to Geneva in Switzerland..today (today being 1987 in this instance). An awards ceremony is taking place and the recipient of the ‘International Science Award’ for his work in the field of lasers is Dr. George Brinkman (Stephan Krayk). Before Brinkman can finish his acceptance speech, a band of black clad Neo-Nazis smash through the windows and spray the room with machine gun fire. Everyone ducks for cover, and Brinkman is kidnapped and spirited outside. Next he is tied to a cable and winched up to a chopper waiting overhead.
Meanwhile, the world’s coolest secret agent, Duncan Jax (Ian Hunter) — even if his hair is thinning — is retrieving some diamonds that have been stolen from the Smithsonian Museum. These diamonds are in a sealed vault that has invisible laser beams criss-crossing the room. Despite these hi-tech precautions, there is still a bloody big air vent in the room, and wearing a pair of infra-red glasses, Jax enters the room via the vent and makes his way to the diamonds. However, as Jax tucks away the diamonds and prepares to exit, he is a trifle clumsy and drops the glasses. This sets of the alarm and the guards come en masse. Jax now has to fight his way out, which he does with relative ease. And thankfully he also has an accomplice to help him on the roof. The accomplice is named ‘Boon’ and he happens to be a baboon. Boon is waiting in Jax’s Ultralight plane, and when Jax gives the signal, Boon starts the engine. Naturally Jax and Boon fly off to safety.
Now after that teaser, the real story begins. It seems that a Neo-Nazi organisation called the Order of the Black Eagle are behind the kidnapping of Dr. Brinkman. The Black Eagle are run by a millionaire called Baron Ernst Von Teppisch (William Hicks). Their top secret headquarters is located in an ancient temple ruins in the jungles of South America – and their aim is to rule the world with a supreme white race. We know all this because Jax is being briefed for his mission — which is to rescue Dr. Brinkman and destroy the Nazi base — by a man named Star (C.K. Bibby). Star is your ‘M’ type. The reason that Jax has been selected for this mission (apart from the fact that he’s the best) is that he is the dead ringer for an American member of the Order called Bladen. Bladen has been captured and Jax is to take his place during a meeting of all the Neo-Nazi leaders at the jungle headquarters.
As Bladen has an assistant, so too must Jax (no, no — Boon has to stay home), and assigned to partner him on the mission is Miss Tiffany Youngblood (Jill Donnellan). Before you know it Jax and Youngblood are inside the Nazi compound and they find out what the Baron von Teppisch is up to. You’ll be pleased to know that he is developing a proton beam that can shoot down telecommunications satellites. By controlling space, he figures he can control the world. But this is only half of it — von Teppisch also has Adolph Hitler’s cyrogenically frozen body, and he intends to unfreeze the Fuhrer, to once again wreak his special kind of madness on the world.
I won’t outline too much more of the plot as it is rather nonsensical, but halfway through the story adds another layer of contrivance. Here Jax picks up a band of mercenaries to help him with the destruction of the Nazi compound. The first is Maxie Ryder (Anna Rapagna) — who is pretty hot. Ryder has given up life in the big city for a life in the jungle. Then there’s Hammer (Joe Coltrane), Juice (James Eric), Cowboy (Bill Gribbel), S.D. Terry Loughlin), Spike (Flo Hyman) and Bolt (Dean Whitworth). With a team with names like that you can expect a reasonable amount of mayhem, and they deliver. The film has motorcycle, boat and hovercraft chases and a generous amount of explosions — you know the kind, the big Hollywood orange fireball type ones. Many Nazis die – most seem to hit a hidden trampoline just after the explosion and fly through the air onto a pile of oil drums.
There is one strange bit (one, who am I kidding!) in the film where it seems like the characters got bored with just playing out spy film cliches and decided to turn the film into a western for a while, complete with a gang of unshaven banditos encircling the cantina where our heroes are holed up.
The Order of the Black Eagle is a film that has many lowlight highlights, but the one that will stick in my mind till the end of my days happens as the good guys storm the Nazi compound. As each of the mercenaries goes about their business killing Nazis, Boon enters the picture once again, which is good, because I was kind of missing the little fella. Well, you may be thinking ‘What can a baboon do?’ In this instance he can drive a tank.
So, what we have is a baboon driving around an army tank, firing missiles, with pin-point accuracy at the buildings in the Nazi compound. I am afraid my feeble words cannot do justice to the absurdity of the scene. Needless to say, to me this was so funny, it almost hurt to watch. Forget Clyde, or Lancelot Link — if you want a real simian hero, look no further than Boon!
I know The Order of the Black Eagle is crap (and the film-makers know it too and just have fun with it), but for the jaded spy film fan, this is just the tonic — a film so stupid that it is brilliant. It has all the spy cliches, girls, gadgets, an evil villain with a plan for world domination, a frozen Hitler, and heaps of explosions. It, in its way, is possibly the greatest film of its kind and succeeds where many parodies have failed. Enjoy!