Review: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 27 October 2012


RATING: 2.5/5

This is definitely (every) die-hard action fans' dream comes true: a rematch between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. Last time they starred together was that cheesy but entertaining B-grade action extravaganza UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992), which was back then quite a decent success. However, subsequent sequel of 1999's UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN and two unrelated DTV (direct-to-video) experimentation were terribly pale in comparison. Fortunately, first-time director John Hyams (son of Peter Hyams who once helmed two Van Damme's movies, TIMECOP (1994) and SUDDEN DEATH (1995) steps up to the game by bravely ignored whatever previous incarnations and positioned UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION into a surprisingly ambitious DTV sequel to the 1992 original hit. Despite its DTV status, the sequel is not the kind of gimmickry picture that simply used the established brand-name and winds up as a lame carbon copy.

The story: A band of masked terrorist group has kidnapped the two children of an Eastern European Prime Minister Musayev (Stainislav Pishtalov) and hold them hostage in the abandoned remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The lead of the terrorist, Commander Topov (Zahary Baharov) threatened to detonate the radioactive site if their political demands aren't met. The armies tried to rectify the situation but failed to accomplish their mission, leaving the government with no choice but to resurrect the UniSol program with a new team of programmable warriors, supervised by Dr. Porter (Garry Cooper).

However, a rogue NGU (Next Generation UniSol) soldier (Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski) is smuggled out of the facility by Dr. Colin (Kerry Shale), who betrayed the government and cooperate with Commander Topov for personal gains. Not surprisingly, every UniSol soldiers brought in by Dr. Porter for a rescue attempt are easily defeated by the NGU soldier himself.

But hope is not lost when the government decides to bring in retired UniSol operative Luc Devereaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who is currently under the guidance of Dr. Sandra Flemming (Emily Joyce) to help out their situation.  They want to reprogram him for war, and as the last rescue mission is held underway, Luc discovers old nemesis Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) has been cloned.

While Victor Ostrovsky's script is strictly average stuff and the characters are essentially cardboard cutouts, what matters the most is that John Hyams proves to be quite a knockout filmmaker. Despite being a first-timer, Hyams knows how to distract what would be a lackluster picture with some briskly choreographed action set-pieces. The opening 4-minute car chase scene is among the movie's highlight -- which is shot in a gritty, you-are-there '70s style. But the movie's biggest draw here is no doubt the rough-and-tumble fight sequence between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren during the climactic finale. Despite their ages, they still proved they have the action grits in them. The only sad thing is, both Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren's appearances (despite sharing top-billing credits) are nothing more than glorious cameos.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION might not be entirely captured the playful spirit of the original, but as a low-budget DTV entry, it remains decent enough for the die-hard fans to check this out.

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