Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)
After the dismal second Universal Soldier movie, Jean-Claude van Damme sank into the oblivion of direct-to-video hell, churning out a string of adequate but not exactly good thrillers. This began to change a little in 2008 with the release of JCVD and the following year, he returned to the Universal Soldier franchise, as did Dolph Lundgren.
The story is a wonderfully sparse tale of Eastern European terrorists taking over the Chernobyl plant using an advanced Universal Soldier played by MMA fighter Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski. The children of the Russian President are also taken hostage which adds to the tension nicely. Van Damme is brought in (no mention of the second movie, he's just a former member of the program having severe adjustment issues) and while he doesn't really spring into action until the last twenty minutes or so, the first hours and change is decent enough to keep things entertaining.
Lundgren comes in about an hour in and really only has three scenes but they are all solid and quite entertaining, especially the fight between him and van Damme. It's a real knock down, drag out affair with a fantastic punchline at the end.
Arlovski also makes for a formidable opponent with an intense, lethal fighting style and personality to match. The film is very well directed by John Hyams. son of director Peter Hyams. He has a good eye for action and happily avoids the quick cutting that mars so many movies these days.
The film does quite a bit considering its low budget, smartly saving the best for the last twenty five minutes when van Damme goes into action. That last twenty five is something to behold as our hero just plows through every bad guy he sees in a spectacular orgy of violence. While the Lundgren fight is an easy highlight, the finale with Arlovski is no slouch either.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration is a great throwback movie and I really hope the upcoming fourth movie is just as good.