Tuesday, April 20, 2010


UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION is the second "official" sequel to the 1992 hit UNIVERSAL SOLDIER and a highly anticipated reunion of that film's stars: action icons Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. Like all of their recent films, it went directly to home video, but probably deserved better treatment. Director John Hyams hired his father, the noted action director Peter Hyams (CAPRICORN ONE), who worked with Van Damme on TIMECOP, to be his cinematographer, which lends the low-budget production a high-budget sheen. It’s a good, not great, action movie held back by a limited budget and routine screenplay.

Like his dad, John shows a real flair for staging exciting action sequences, including a very nice opening car chase. Unfortunately, the stars we really want to see are only given glorified cameos (Dolph only worked five days on the project), leaving the bulk of the emoting to the incredibly stiff mixed martial artist Andrei Arlovski. It also means that the many fights and stunts, as well done as they are, have little dramatic weight, because they’re being performed by characters we don’t know or care about.

OG UniSol Luc Devereaux (Van Damme) is pressed into service to rescue the children of the Russian Prime Minister from terrorists who have hijacked the Chernobyl nuclear plant and threaten to blow it up. Their secret weapon is a badass new Universal Soldier, played by Arlovski, who is seen demolishing four other UniSols with his brutal fighting style. Lundgren’s turn as Luc’s archenemy Andrew Scott is short but definitely sweet.

The score and sound design are compatible with Hyams’ vision, and with a better script and more participation from its name stars, this UNIVERSAL SOLDIER sequel could really have been something.

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