Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)
Directed by: John Hyams
Written by: Christopher Leitch, Dean Devlin, Richard Rothstein, Victor Ostrovsky
Starring: Andrei Arlovski, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme
What’s it all about?
With stolen top-secret technology, terrorists have created a next-generation Universal Soldier – an elite fighter genetically altered into a programmable killing machine. With this “UniSol” (Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski) leading the way, they seize the crippled Chernobyl nuclear reactor, threatening to unleash a lethal radioactive cloud.
The only one who can stop them is Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a UniSol who’s been decommissioned for years. Reactivated and retrained, Deveraux must make a full-out assault on the heavily armed fortress. But inside, he’ll discover not one but two of these virtually indestructible warriors. Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), Deveraux’s vicious UniSol enemy from the original Universal Soldier, has been secretly reanimated and upgraded. Now, these elite fighters are locked, loaded and programmed to kill; and the fate of millions hinges on this high-action showdown.
THE HUGHES VERDICT!
Please do not snigger. If you have taken a glance at the bottom of the review and have seen the rating then I am telling you, I am more surprised at that than you can ever imagine. I never expected great things from a sequel to a franchise that has a history that as baffled the hard core fans. Not only have we got two sequels from the original film that stars two unknowns in the lead roles and are so bad that they really should not be seen, we also have a damn awful “official” sequel that sucks all life out of everyone who dares to watch.
This the “official” third in the series is a STD affair and one that as stunned me and left me shaking my head with confusement For the simple reason is that Regeneration is really good, no seriously, a shocker of an action film that fully deserves the word of mouth that its gaining.
Here I was expecting a film with two past it action stars trying to relive past glories, and yet what I got in front of me is an intelligent movie, shot in a style that suggests if you dare comparisons with Children Of Men, and also a franchise regenerated for a new decade of fans.
Full credit goes to the father and son team of Peter and John Hyams who work wonders with such a small budget. Peter who directed Jean Claude Van Damme in the Die Hard clone Sudden Death way back in the ninties is responsible for the glum grey picture that reminds you so much of when Clive Owen was running through that gun battle with the only pregnant woman on earth. John who directs the movie shows that he can wonderfully put together some inspired action set pieces, set the mood straight away with a wonderful car chase that seems straight out of a Bourne movie.
The plot also wisely and shockingly does not sell out with its sole interest in the reteaming of Van Damme and Dolph Lundrgen the two original stars. What you can only describe as extended cameos with the two stars kept in the shadows until right up to the expected showdown, many might describe it as a waste, but I saw it as a great tension plot vice and giving the film a different edge and a much needed outlook!
Plot wise, the film ignores all events of the second film, and its set in the wastelands of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, where terrorists have taken over and kidnapped the Russian’s Prime Ministers Son and Daughter! A boast for the terrorists is that a rogue scientist is on the pay roll and as created a super new Universal Soldier played by UFC champion Andrei Arloski and any attempts to rescue the hostages are thwarted by this strong UniSol.
The only one to help is Luc Deveraux, (Van Damme) the only surviving original solider and as he sets out to save the day, little does he realise that the terrorists have got another big secret…..they have cloned his nemesis Andrew Scott (Lundrgen) who reborn, and with stronger abilities, as a hidden agenda all on of his own……….
Despite looking their age, the two heavyweights deliver a gritty battle showdown that is so far removed from the style of the original that it MAY alienate some fans. The problem this film may have is that it as gone all Dark Knight on us, while many knew back in the day that Universal Soldier was just a Terminator riff, it was and still is a blast of energy and fun. Regeneration is totally the opposite, it goes for the realistic look and those expecting a retread of memoires gone bye will be in for a rude awaking….
With its Terminator drum beats and heavy thinking plot, I sat shocked at what was in front of me. We all wondered how Van Damme would follow the critically praised JCVD, but no-one of us expected it would be a Universal Soldier sequel that is probably one of the finest STD movies in recent times……….
OVERALL: A total change of pace and style, this inspired Children Of Men action piece is a gobsmacking little beauty that will delight fans of new and old…..one of the best hidden shockers for many of years……