Universal Soldier: Regeneration (John Hyams) 2010

This is the second sequel to the Universal Soldier series.  There were some tv movies made (without any of the original cast) but I am focusing on the movies.  To be honest, I don’t remember squat from Universal Soldier 2 (in fact I should re-review it for my bomb thread).  All I remember from it was it had Bill Goldberg in it and it sucked.  However I have said before JCVD has turned his career around in later years and is actually a fine actor (still strange using that word).  I would even go so far as to say I like as many of his DTV movies and the movie JCVD as I like his early stuff like Bloodsport and Timecop and Universal Soldier.

So the plot of this one is rather simple: a group of Russian terrorists have captured Chernobyl and some politician’s children for hostages.  In a few days they will detonate the nuclear reactor unless they release political prisoners.  To make matters worse, the entrenched terrorists have a rogue Unisol (played by former UFC fighter Andrei Arlovski) on their side.  The US and Soviet army try to infiltrate the base but they are beat back by Arlovski.  In desperation they go to the one man that can kill Arlovski…Fedor.  Unfortunately he is busy wrestling bears so they go back to Luc (Jean Claude Van Damme) to try to get him to come back for one more mission.

For being a direct to video movie, this was excellent.  Now JCVD is really only in it for about half the running time (maybe more) and that could be a tad disappointing.  But I realize that he is getting old and he can’t carry a movie the whole time.  With Wake of Death and other DTV stuff, he relies more on an ensemble cast and for the most part it works.  You still get plenty of JCVD action scenes and I have to say the man still has it.  This is not like Steven Seagal where you laugh at that tub of lard try to slap fight his way through bad guys.  Van Damme is still in incredible shape and just as fast.

Arlovski does a good job since all he really has to do is be silent and kick ass.  He is practically playing the new Dolph Lundgren role.  Speaking of, Dolph is in this movie too but for a short time.  While he has a limited role, Lundgren and Van Damme have a fight scene which put most fight scenes today to shame and really sold the movie for me.

If I had to gripe (and I must) it is that the story is REALLY simple.  There is no advancement of the story of Luc as a whole.  In fact, we seem to have regressed in his character.  I seem to remember in Universal Soldier 2 that Luc was a rather well adjusted, normal, and healthy man after the events of one.  In this movie though he has problems with long term memory, is anti social, prone to random fits of extreme violence, and is one step away from being catatonic.  What the hell happened in between 2 and 3 to make him a basket case?  The movie’s story is just so basic as to say there is a crisis, they need Luc, they get Luc, and Luc f*cks people’s sh*t up.  That’s it; the very bare bones to get from one action scene to another.  Which isn’t horrible by no means but it’s strange that we return to this series after so long and really have nothing new to say.  Even the new Rambo had a somewhat new direction for the character despite also having a stripped down plot.

That is a minor quibble though.  I really did like this movie.  It is a very pleasant surprise you get this talented (and good looking) direct to video movie.  It is so good you almost wonder why it didn’t get a limited release; especially after JCVD.  But check it out if you are a fan of Jean Claude. Highly recommended.

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