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Universal Soldier: Regeneration

With Jean-Claude’s critical success in JCVD at film fests the world over, his next move was going to be crucial. Could one of the biggest action stars of the eighties and nineties make a comeback as he hurtled toward fifty? After turning down a role in Stallone’s big budget action extravaganza the Expendables, it became unclear what JC would be doing next. Word spread about a new Universal Soldier movie that brought back Dolph Lundgren‘s character from the first movie. Would this be the return of Van Damme’s flipping and kicking box office numbers? Or at least a good action flick?

Well, it could have been worse. Pretty much a letdown, hardly surprising and yet somewhat interesting, Regeneration tries to give the audience a mature take on the subject matter. Unfortunately, the audience for this movie isn’t looking for something so dry. The first movie kept a sense of humor, when appropriate and this made it more entertaining than the third film.

Secondly, Jean-Claude isn’t even in it until half an hour in and doesn’t shoot, kick or kill anything until over an hour into the movie! Why? Because they were trying to tell an introverted story about a reformed Unisol can’t fit into society. That’s nice, but not what I was looking for in a Universal
Soldier movie. These two main issues fixed, the movie could have been everything you’d want from the third flick.

On the good side, the movie at least has a pretty nice look to it. It feels cinematic and has good atmosphere. The plot stays pretty simple for the most part and the action is alright. I expected more from Andrei Arlovski who is the main threat in the film; a highly advanced Unisol, protecting terrorists who have taken over Chernobyl and threatened to nuke it. He is a formidable threat as a killing machine, but there is no character at all. In fact, none of the three main leads play any kind of emotion which makes it tough to be engaged by them. Again, this is played for realism as a reanimated cadaver programmed by the military is unlikely to be making small talk but it also doesn’t make for compelling characters.

Lundgren’s return is the highlight of the film and easily what fans of the series will be looking forward to. Both he and Van Damme are going to hard pressed to hide the almost twenty years that have passed since the first film, but Dolph gives a very creepy and intimidating presence as Andrew Scott. He doesn’t really live up to his ear necklace in the first movie, but his scenes are easily the best in the film.

Included on the DVD are a featurette and a commentary with Dolph and the director. Dolph spends time talking about Rocky IV and the upcoming Expendables which is pretty entertaining. Why Jean-Claude wasn’t on the track is a mystery.

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