Thursday, January 21, 2010

What I Think Of: Universial Soldier Regeneration (2010)

I know this may sound insane, but this is the 5th movie in the Universal Soldier series of films, which started back in 1992 with Universal Solider. You heard me right - the 5th movie!! The first 2 Universal Soldier sequels were direct-to-dvd crapfests followed by the theatrical release of Universal Soldier: The Return in 1999. Now roughly 10 years later, I can't believe any one's been clamoring for another sequel, but here we are with Universal Soldier: Regeneration.

This film, while getting a theatrical release in Asia (because frankly they aren't too discerning) gets the straight-to-dvd release here in the States. Proving that I'll watch anything, I rushed out to see this. However the key for me was that this film stars one of my favorite MMA superstars Andrei "The Pitball" Arlovski, and re-unites Jean-Cluade Van Damme (who I'll see in anything) and Dolph Lundgren (who I'll almost see in anything) together again from the first Universal film.

So is this film worthy, if worthy is the right word for a film series that's been mostly terrible, to continue the Universal Soldier legacy? Frankly, this film is pretty damn good. From the heart pumping opening 8-minutes that feel right out of John Frankenheimer film, to the action packed martial arts/MMA beat-down ending, to all the bodies and dismemberment in the middle, Universal Soldier: Regeneration is a whole lot of dumb fun. I mean the story makes no sense, sure some of the effects and set locations look decidedly low-budget, and yes, there're so many plot threads that are forgotten or thrown away that you'll be scratching your head going "what the hell's going on" more often than not, but you're not watching a straight-to-dvd movie starring Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren for the plot right?

I will say this, if you're watching this film only to see 90 minutes of Van Damme and Lundgren fighting like in the first movie, you'll be sadly disappointed like I initially was. Van Damme is undoubtably the star of this film, but he's more in a supporting role being in the film for only like 37 minutes. And Lundgren's appearance is more like a cameo being in it for only about 10 minutes. However, once you get past the initial disappointment, you'll find an entertaining action flick with a high body count. Besides, when Van Damme and Lundgren finally do share screen time together, you'll be smiling from ear to ear like I was. It's just classic Van Damme action.

I'm sure the only reason this film ever got made was due to the resurgence of Van Damme's career after 2008's JCVD, but yeah, while not a great film, (I can't even say it's one I've been waiting for - who even remembers the Universal Soldier series?), it's a lot of Van Damme fun. The best recommendation I can give this straight-to-dvd movie is that if I saw this in the theater I would have still been happy. The joining of two 80's action juggernauts with Van Damme and Lundgren. What more could any one man ask for?

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