I really felt as if I'd unlocked a treasure trove of excellent, heretofore unknown krazee when I watched "Unmasking the Idol," but my joy was bittersweet. Its ninety-minute run time was packed to the gills with inspired lunacy, but it felt like there was so much more to know about asshole ninja super-spy Duncan Jax and his karate-trained sidekick Boon the Baboon. What would have been truly wonderful is if the movie was twice as long and brought the Nazi subplot to the forefront. Imagine my thong-dampening glee upon realizing that "Unmasking the Idol" spawned a sequel called "The Order of the Black Eagle," in which Duncan Jax infiltrates a Nazi secret society...!
Our story opens with Dr. George Brinkmann, Jr. receiving the International Science Award in the Field of Lasers in Switzerland when machine-gun-toting ninjas bust in to kidnap him. From there, it's a jump cut to Washington, DC, where a trio of evil sheikhs* is at their ranch-home-cum-secret-compound where they are hiding priceless gems stolen from the Smithsonian. Leave it to our hero Duncan Jax to rescue the stones through sheer audacity and back-punching, only to make his escape via prop plane piloted by Boon the Baboon, as the head sheikh screams gibberish at them. All this happens in the first ten minutes of film--I defy you NOT to call this "art." After he returns the jewels to his boss Star (after landing the prop plane on his lawn during a chic cocktail party), Jax is assigned to a new case where he needs to infiltrate a neo-Nazi group called the Order of the Black Eagle. The Order is responsible for the kidnapping of Dr. Brinkmann and plans to use his laser-ey know-how to blow up communications satellites. It's explained that the evil Baron von Tepish** leads the Order and has set up shop in an ancient temple in the jungles of South America. Fortunately for the good guys, Jax looks JUST LIKE Order member Conrad Bladen. Donning a false moustache, Jax takes his partner Tiffany Youngblood (with whom he has a typically-for-this-kind-of-movie contentious relationship) and heads to the jungles of South America*** to thwart the Order. It just so happens that shit is MUCH heavier than what the good guys had anticipated, as the Order has Hitler's body in cryogenic freeze. Through means unknown to the audience and to contemporary science, the Order apparently has the means to revive him, presumably since they spent all their R&D time on this problem and not on the "lasers" one.
*This movie is very sheikh-heavy; I counted FIVE headdressed Middle Eastern men before the opening credits rolled.
**Played by the same dude who played The Whale in "Unmasking the Idol," a fact that led to no small measure of confusion as I tried to figure out why the Whale joined such a despicable organization.
***A country much like Africa, as shown through a shot of a map overlaid with Tarzan-style foley work
The amount of cheesy goodness on display in this movie is downright overwhelming, but I'll explain a handful of standout moments:
- Boon has ever-changing wardrobe that includes a tuxedo, fatigues, and a Mister Rogers cardigan
- I'm guessing as a cost-cutting measure, members of the Order of the Black Eagle don't have peaked caps, but instead prefer embroidered beige baseball caps
- The ancient South American jungle temple that serves as the Order's HQ is made of painted cardboard and looks a lot like the interior of the much-lamented Castle Dracula dark ride in Wildwood, NJ
- Tiffany Youngblood's hatred of men turns inexplicably--nee, magically--into throbbing desire for Duncan Jax when the script says so
- Not content with a mere swastika, the Order has devised its OWN logo with a black eagle INSIDE of a swastika, for maximum eviltude
- A motorcycle chase ends abruptly with a trip-wire decapitation that manages to be both extremely telegraphed and yet entirely unexpected
- You bet your fucking ass there's a hovercraft
- Jax impersonates a flaming gay stereotype in order to set off a Spaghetti Western shoot-out****
****Yes, those words, in that order, make a sentence that describes a thing that happens in this movie
You may ask how the Spaghetti Western homage is worked into what seems like a James Bond homage flavored with a soupcon of "The Boys from Brazil," and this would be an entirely reasonable line of inquiry. One of the fantastical things about "The Order of the Black Eagle" is that it manages to pay homage to about a thousand different genre films, ranging from the obvious "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to such adventure stories as "The African Queen," "The Dirty Dozen," and "The A Team." The latter two titles lead me to another outstanding element of this film: mid-way through the film, Jax and Star team up with a sort of Not-So-Magnificent Seven team consisting of a nerdy demolitions expert, a strongman, a female assassin, a cowboy, a smart-mouthed drunk, an archer, and unfortunately-named Jungle Princess Maxie Ryder. For those of you keeping track, that puts us at TEN heroes. I am more convinced now than ever that this story was concocted by a grade-school boy, what with all the Axe Cop*****-ery going on here.
*****You're going to want to click that link if you're unfamiliar with Axe Cop.
To speak more about "The Order of the Black Eagle" would be to strip it of its native majesty. Suffice to say that I've only spoken about maybe a third of this movie's appeal, and that much like its predecessor, this film is a work of mad genius. I remain mind-boggled as to how these movies have escaped cult film apotheosis, as they so beautifully embody the cocaine-fueled excess that characterizes the 1980s action film.
Oh, and there's a baboon that flips people off. A LOT.
Dear powers that be, please issue a DVD release of the Duncan Jax movies. If the public doesn't demand it now, be certain that they should.