REVIEW: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 4: DAY OF RECKONING

CAST

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)
Dolph Lundgren (Masters of The Universe)
Scott Adkins (The Legend of Hercules)
Anfrei Arloviski (Limitless TV)
Mariah Bonner (The Social Network)

John awakens from a coma to find that his wife and daughter were brutally murdered in a home invasion. With the help of FBI Agent Gorman, the still amnesiac John identifies the perpetrator as former Universal Soldier (UniSol) Luc Deveraux, now a wanted man. Gorman activates sleeper agent Magnus, one of the cloned Next Generation UniSols from Regeneration. Magnus reaches a brothel and kills all the women working there and most of the patrons, all men with exceptional physical resistance. His last adversary, a clone of UniSol Andrew Scott and Deveraux’s former nemesis, negotiates Magnus and injects him with a serum that frees him from government control. Magnus is introduced to a separatist group led by Deveraux and Scott, who are taking in wayward UniSols to turn them against the government, thus establishing a new order ruled by UniSols.Determined to find Deveraux, John receives a call from someone claiming to be his friend Isaac, urging the two to meet. At his house, he finds Isaac long dead and evidence of Isaac’s involvement with the UniSol government program. A matchbox found on the scene leads John to a strip club. There, he is recognized and sent off by a stripper named Sarah, whom he cannot remember. Magnus injects John with Scott’s serum, whereupon John hallucinates about Deveraux but retains his will. John follows Sarah to her apartment, where they are attacked by Magnus again. Though in the confrontation John loses some phalanges, they escape. Sarah tells John she remembers him working as a truck driver, living in a riverside cabin, and that the two were romantically involved.Calling his own memories into question, John requests a meeting with Agent Gorman. He learns Deveraux was often seen at the docks from where John used to take shipments. John goes to the docks, inspects the last unshipped cargo and meets with local manager Ron Castellano, who plays hidden camera footage that shows John brutally murder Isaac. As John and Sarah drive towards the cabin, they are once more intercepted by Magnus. Upon finally eliminating Magnus, John realizes he possesses superior strength, resistance and fighting abilities; his severed fingers have regrown in the meantime. John and Sarah reach the cabin to find it inhabited by an exact duplicate of John, who reveals himself as the original who had killed Isaac and been in contact with Sarah and Castellano in the past. The original John had been mind-controlled into hunting down Deveraux, but was turned by him and hired as a transporter and assassin for his organization, until he met Sarah and deserted Deveraux. He tries to kill Sarah but is shot dead by the other John, now suspecting himself to be a UniSol sleeper agent.By the river, a rogue UniSol takes John to the separatists’ underground headquarters. There, he is greeted by Dr. Su, a former scientist of the UniSol program, who reveals John had been synthetically created a few weeks earlier, therefore his family never existed. Dr. Su also says the missing shipment contains the hardware that will allow Deveraux to create clones. John accepts Su’s offer to surgically sever his emotional bond with the fake memories of his family, but the pain and attachment to those memories drive John insane. He kills every UniSol in his path, culminating with Andrew Scott in a one-on-one confrontation. John then reaches Deveraux himself; in the ensuing fight, Deveraux eventually gains the upper hand. Realizing the cycle of sending clones of John against him is destined to repeat, and seeing John as a worthy successor, Deveraux allows John to kill him.Later, John meets with Agent Gorman again. Gorman admits to his involvement with the UniSol program and that he had purposefully put an unaware John on Deveraux’s trail. Gorman ascribes John’s success to his familial attachment, as opposed to the patriotism implanted in his predecessors. John kills Gorman, then a clone of Gorman and three UniSols emerge from John’s van. The clone leaves in Gorman’s car, hinting that John has acquired the cloning equipment and taken over the separatist group, now determined to infiltrate the government which he holds responsible for his pain.01-158520Day of reckoning is crass, extremely violent, uneven, and low budget, but it should also be commended for being ambitious, and shot through with passion and creative vision. It is absolutely not a movie for everyone — if you want a safer trip up action-memory-lane stick with The Expendables 2 — but if you fancy a detour of the beaten path, and are willing to forgive the flaws the flaws that are a consequence of the directorial ambition, then by all means give this a shot.

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REVIEW: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 3: REGENERATION

CAST

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)
Dolph Lundgren (Masters of The Universe)
Mike Pyle (Men In Black 3)
Anfrei Arloviski (Limitless TV)
Corey Johnson (Ex Machina)
Gary Cooper (New Tricks)
Emily Joyce (Jane Eyre)

A group of terrorists led by Commander Topov (Zahari Baharov) kidnap the Ukrainian Prime Minister’s son and daughter and hold them hostage, demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades within 72 hours. In addition, they have taken over the crippled Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and threaten to detonate it if their demands are not met. It is revealed that among the ranks of the terrorists is an experimental Next-Generation UniSol (NGU) (Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski), who was smuggled in by rogue scientist Dr. Robert Colin (Kerry Shale). U.S. forces join up with the Ukrainian Army at the plant, but quickly retreat when the NGU slaughters most of them effortlessly. Dr. Richard Porter (Garry Cooper), Dr. Colin’s former colleague on the Universal Soldier program, revives four UniSols to take down the NGU, but they are systematically eliminated.Former UniSol Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who is undergoing rehabilitation therapy in Switzerland with Dr. Sandra Fleming (Emily Joyce) with the goal of rejoining society, is taken back by the military to participate in the mission. As the deadline nears its expiration, the prime minister announces the release of the prisoners. The terrorists, having gotten what they wanted, rejoice and shut off the bomb. Dr. Colin, however, is not pleased with the outcome, as he feels his side of the business is not done. As the NGU is programmed not to harm the terrorists, Dr. Colin unleashes his second UniSol: a cloned and upgraded version of Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) – Deveraux’s nemesis – who quickly kills Commander Topov. However, Dr. Colin never considered Scott’s mental instability, and he is killed by his own creation. Scott then reactivates the bomb before heading out to hunt the children. In the midst of the chaos, Capt. Kevin Burke (Mike Pyle) is sent in to infiltrate the plant and rescue the prime minister’s children. He is successful in locating them and leads them toward safety. On their way out, they encounter the NGU. The children flee as Burke tries in vain to hold off the NGU, who stabs him to death after a brutal fight.With 30 minutes remaining on the bomb’s timer, a re-conditioned Deveraux is geared up and sent to the plant, where he kills every terrorist he encounters. He searches the buildings and finds the children cornered by Scott. Scott, who has distorted memories of Deveraux, is about to kill the children when Deveraux attacks and a grueling fight ensues. In the end, Deveraux impales Scott on the forehead with a lead pipe and fires a shotgun through it, blowing his brains out. As Deveraux escorts the children to safety, they are attacked by the NGU. Deveraux and the NGU take the fight to the site of the bomb, with less than two minutes remaining. During the melee, Deveraux removes the detonator and jams it in the back of the NGU’s uniform as they both jump out of the reactor chamber. NGU pulls the detonator off his back as it explodes, taking him with it. U.S. soldiers quickly arrive on the scene and tend to the children as Deveraux leaves. Burke’s body is placed in a black bag and taken away, as well as recovered pieces of the NGU. In Langley, Virginia, Burke’s body is shown stored in a cryogenic chamber as a new UniSol, along with multiple clones made of him.It had great atmosphere throughout – one of it’s best features, it was riviting. To dismiss this film as another crappy sequel would be a big mistake. A certain must-buy for JCVD fans or films of the original – there are some quite clever references to the first movie in it, without being cheesy.

REVIEW: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 2: THE RETURN

CAST

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight)
Heidi Schanz (The Truman Show)
Xander Berkeley (Taken)
Justin Lazard (Species II)
Daniel Von Bargen (The Postman)
James Black (Anger Management)

Seven years after the events in the first film, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), now an ordinary human after having had his cybernetic implants removed, is a technical expert who is working for the US government with his partner Maggie (Kiana Tom), who has been through countless hours of combat training with him. They work to refine and perfect the UniSol program in an effort to make a new, stronger breed of soldier that is more sophisticated and intelligent to reduce the use of normal, human soldiers in the battlefield. All of the new UniSols, which are faster and stronger than the original UniSols, are connected through an artificially intelligent computer system called S.E.T.H. (Self-Evolving Thought Helix).universal-twoWhen S.E.T.H. discovers that the Universal Soldier program is scheduled to be shut down because of budget cuts, it takes action to protect itself. Killing those who try to shut off its power, and unleashing a platoon of super soldiers, led by the musclebound Romeo (Bill Goldberg), S.E.T.H. spares Devereaux, only because Devereaux has the secret code that is needed to deactivate a built-in program that will shut S.E.T.H. down in a matter of hours. With the help of Squid (Brent Hinkley), a rogue cyberpunk, S.E.T.H. is able to put its program in a UniSol which Squid made superior to any of the newer models (Michael Jai White). A team of four UniSols massacre most of the troops stationed outside the premises. Luc goes in later with a team of United States Army Rangers, but most of them are killed when a UniSol sentry sees them sneaking into the building Not only must Luc contend with ambitious reporter Erin Young (Heidi Schanz), who will not leave his side, but he must also contend with General Radford (Daniel von Bargen) who wants to take extreme measures to stop S.E.T.H.. S.E.T.H. has arranged Romeo to kidnap Luc’s injured 13-year-old daughter Hillary (Karis Paige Bryant), killing Maggie in the process.01-158520However, Luc is the only person who can rescue Hillary, because Luc knows firsthand how a UniSol thinks, feels, and fights. Luc infiltrates the UniSol building again, but finds Maggie, now revived as one of the UniSols. S.E.T.H is able to figure out the code itself, decides to kill Luc and raise Hillary as a daughter, who it has healed using UniSol technology. During the fight Luc covers S.E.T.H. in liquid nitrogen and then shatters S.E.T.H.’s frozen body. Luc and Hillary leave the lab and head towards the exist, but find Romeo waiting for Luc. Luc then engages into a final fight with Romeo, which ends when Maggie finally rebels against the UniSols by shooting Romeo, and allows Luc and Hillary to get out of the building on time. However, the bomb that General Radford had placed was deactivated by S.E.T.H. and no one knew that. As Romeo and the other UniSols start to march out for battle, Luc fires at the explosive charge, blowing up the building, killing all UniSols and destroying their laboratory.MSDUNSO EC009Its a terrific film if not taken too seriously and it really is good to see two martial arts experts go head to head and a ex superstar wrestler steal the show with a very over the top and funny character and though sometimes it doesn’t make sense this is always entertaining.

REVIEW: UNIVERSAL SOLDIER

CAST

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD)
Dolph Lundgren (Masters of The Universe)
Ally Walker (Longmire)
Ed O’Ross (Red Heat)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight)
Tommy “Tiny” Lister (Jackie Brown)
Jerry Orbach (LAw & Order)
Tico Wells (The Relic)
Robert Trebor (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)
Ralf Möller (The Bad Pack)

In 1969, a U.S. Army team is ordered to secure a village against North Vietnamese forces. Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) discovers members of his squad and various villagers murdered, all with their ears removed. Deveraux finds his sergeant, Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), who has gone insane, with a string of severed ears and holding a young man and woman hostage. Deveraux, who is near the end of his tour of duty, tries to reason with Scott, who executes the man and orders Deveraux to shoot the girl to prove his loyalty. Deveraux refuses and tries to save the girl, but she is killed by a grenade thrown by Scott. After shooting each other to death. Deveraux and Scott’s corpses are recovered by a second squad and cryogenically frozen, their deaths classified as “missing in action”.Deveraux and Scott’s corpses are reanimated decades later without prior memories of their previous lives and selected for the “Universal Soldier” (UniSol) program, an elite counter-terrorism unit, and are deployed via an Aero Spacelines Mini Guppy to the Hoover Dam to resolve a hostage situation. Deveraux uses efficient means to dispatch terrorists, but Scott uses excessive force, which causes concern among the project technicians. The team demonstrates their superior training and physical abilities against the terrorists, such as when GR76 (Ralf Möller) withstands close-range rifle fire. After the area is secured, Deveraux begins to regain memory from his former life upon seeing two hostages who strongly resemble the villagers he tried to save in Vietnam, causing him to disobey commands from the control team and become unresponsive.In the mobile command center, it is revealed that the UniSols are genetically augmented soldiers with enhanced self-healing abilities and superior strength, but they also have a tendency to overheat and shut down. They are given a neural serum to keep their minds susceptible and their past memory suppressed. As a result of the glitch, Woodward (Leon Rippy), one of the technicians on the project, feels it may be better to remove Deveraux from the team until he can be further analyzed, but UniSol commander Colonel Perry (Ed O’Ross) refuses. TV journalist, Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker), who was fired while covering the Hoover Dam incident, tries to get a story on the UniSol project in order to get her job back. Roberts sneaks onto the base with a cameraman, discovering GR76 immersed in ice, still alive despite normally-fatal injuries.When her presence is noticed, Deveraux and Scott are ordered to capture her dead or alive. She flees to her cameraman’s car, but they crash. Scott coldly murders the cameraman against orders before Deveraux stops him from shooting Roberts. Together, Deveraux and Roberts escape in a UniSol vehicle. Colonel Perry insists on preventing knowledge of the UniSol program getting out, not only to the public, but to the Pentagon, having no knowledge to the true nature of the project. Deveraux and Roberts flee to a motel, where Roberts discovers she has been framed for the murder of her cameraman. Scott’s previously insane personality resurfaces, causing him to kill Perry (who wants to terminate the project), the second in command, and the technicians. Scott then takes control of the mindlessly obedient UniSol team, commanding them to search and destroy Deveraux and Roberts.Deveraux continues to regain his memories while Roberts tries to find out more information about the UniSol program. They step into a greasy spoon diner in the middle of the desert. Deveraux finds himself alone there for a while and starts ordering and devouring plate after plate of food, until the waitress asks how he’s going to pay for it all. When Deveraux looks blankly at her, she calls out Hank, the cook, who threatens to harm him for being a deadbeat. However, Deveraux, though innocently saying he doesn’t want to hurt him, easily beats Hank and every single patron who steps up to take him on.Roberts and Deveraux meet Dr. Christopher Gregor (Jerry Orbach), the creator of the program, who informs them that the UniSol project was started in the 1960s in order to develop the perfect soldier. Although they were able to reanimate dead humans, they were never able to overcome the body’s need for constant cooling. The other major problem is that memories of the last moments of life are greatly amplified. In Deveraux’s case, he still believes he is a soldier who wants to go home, while Scott believes he is still in Vietnam fighting insurgents. When Deveraux and Roberts leave the doctor’s home, they are caught and arrested by the police. En route to jail, the police convoy is ambushed by Scott and GR76. A chase ensues, ending when the police bus and the UniSol truck both drive off a cliff and explode, killing GR76. Deveraux and Roberts head to Deveraux’s family’s farm in Louisiana. After Deveraux is reunites with his parents, Scott appears and takes the family and Roberts hostage. A brutal fight ensues, and Scott’s use of muscle enhancers enables him to beat Deveraux mercilessly. Roberts manages to escape, only to be seemingly killed by a grenade thrown by Scott. Deveraux grabs the muscle enhancers Scott used and injects himself. Now evenly matched, Deveraux fights back and is able to impale Scott on the spikes of a hay harvester. Deveraux then starts the machine up, grinding Scott into alfalfa. Roberts is revealed to have survived the explosion, and she and Deveraux embrace.This is going to be a lot of people’s guilty pleasure. If you like your action fast and violent then this movie is definitely for you