Universal Soldier: Regeneration Blu-ray Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 7.0
Video 9.0
Audio 7.5
Special Features 5.0
Total 7.0

Distributor: Sony
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Reviewer: Simon Black
Classification
: MA15+

7.0


Universal Soldier: Regeneration

18 years after Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren starred in the original Universal Soldier film and following a string of unrelated and largely ignored sequels, director John Hyams evidently thought the time was ripe for another entry in franchise.  The two action movie stalwarts agreed, and pleasingly for fans of the original the results are actually pretty damn good. 

A group of terrorists led by the malevolent General Boris (Aki Avni) kidnap the son and daughter of the Russian prime minister.  A lengthy car chase and much gunfire ensues, and the high-octane sequence is probably the most visceral and expertly staged of its kind since the Bourne trilogy.  The pair are escorted by the General to his compound inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, with the fiendish fellow and his criminal cabal demanding the release of political prisoners in exchange for the lives of the two children.   

The Russian prime minister doesn’t know that the General also has a secret weapon: a machinelike soldier who is impervious to pain, fatigue or human emotion – a Universal Soldier, or UniSol (mixed martial artist and former UFC champion Andrei ‘The Pitbull’ Arlovski.  The General doesn’t know that the rogue scientist who works for him also has a secret weapon – a UniSol of his own (Lundgren).  As you might have guessed, the US Army has a little something up their sleeve.  What could it be?  That’s right, a Universal Soldier, in this case a sensitive and newly deprogrammed Van Damme.  A couple of injections later Van Damme is good to go, and when the three UniSols finally stage their reunion the results are typically bloody, with plenty of high kicks and martial arts wirework thrown in for good measure. 

The strength of Universal Soldier: Regeneration is far and away its action sequences.  These are cleverly staged, inventively shot, artfully executed and resonate with a savagery that lends an impressive urgency to proceedings.  The film lags in one or two spots when too much exposition creeps in, but thankfully the script is tight and the performances, while generally not spectacular, are certainly worthy of the task at hand.  Ultimate Fighter Andrei Arlovski has both an impressive physicality and a suitable abundance of menace, Van Damme builds on the success of JCVD with another solid performance and Lundgren, though he only features briefly, is also in great shape, unlike certain of his contemporaries (Steven Seagal, anyone?) 

The Blu-ray release of this film features both an impressively understated soundtrack that bursts into life admirably when required, as well as a crystal clear image with plenty of depth.  Also included are a funny and incisive Making Of which features interview with the director and each of the leads, and gives an insight into the stunts and the shooting of action sequences. 

Universal Soldier: Regeneration thoroughly succeeds in fulfilling its promise, and as far as straight-to-DVD action fare goes it’s a cut above.  The lead actors each bring their own adrenaline-fuelled flair to proceedings, the stunts and fight sequences are top notch and the storyline avoids unnecessary convolutions.  Plenty to offer fans of Lundgren and Van Damme’s action flick heyday, and those who like their films to feature a monumental body count and plenty of gunfire.






 
 



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