Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)
Directed by John Hyams
[this review brought to you by Insano Steve, who has sleepless nights and reoccurring nightmares that Jean Claude Van Damme's bump on his head is out to attack him]
As you can probably tell from our rating system, Jean Claude Van Damme is the jadedviewer.com's favorite actor. Hard to believe that he's been around for over 22 years! That's a long time for an actor with so little acting ability. While most people probably gave up on JCVD in the late 1990s, he's been pumping out mediocre straight-to-video movies for over a decade. Let's take a look at his most recent movie ......
When terrorists threaten nuclear catastrophe, the world's only hope is to reactivate decommissioned Universal Soldier Luc Deveraux...
Universal Soldier: Regeneration is part 3 of the Universal Soldier series. Seeing how part 1 was a JCVD classic, and part 2 was his last legitimate theatrical release, my hopes were modestly high for part 3 here. Does it deliver? Well, my first impression, was not too good. As the opening credits rolled, I noticed that once again, all the actors seem to have Eastern European names. Sure looked like another of his "filmed in Bulgaria" crap-fests. And the video quality was camcorder quality. I know I watched a downloaded copy, but this shit was pretty bad.
As for the plot, a bunch of Russian terrorists kidnap the Russian Prime Minister's children. Deciding to up the ante, the terrorists then occupy the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant and threaten to detonate one of the old nuclear reactors. They do all of this to free their jailed comrades. You would think the kidnap of the children would be enough to get the job done. Nope. Apparently, in Russia, if you don't threaten to irradiate the population, the government doesn't take you seriously. But wait, that's not all. The terrorists also recruit a traitorous American scientist who brings along his next generation cyborg Universal Soldier (this model resembling a MMA fighter).
The American army finds out about this new UniSol, and decides to 'regenerate' a couple of 1st generation and send them in to fight the terrorists. These UniSols are quickly dispatched by the MMA soldier. The de-frosted UniSols are played by real puny looking actors to make MMA soldier look extra bad ass.
In the meantime, our hero, JCVD, is in a de-tox program to help former Universal Soldiers reacclimate back into society (sorta like Michael Vick's dogs). He's doing well, albeit he looks really old. His fighting skills have deteriorated and his grasp of the English language is marginal (not a real stretch for JCVD). However, left with no other recourse to deal with the new MMA UniSol, America decides they have to use JCVD. Once again, JCVD is forced to fight! Why was this America's problem anyway? I really don't know. It's always best not to ask too many questions of a JCVD plot.
Later, for some reason that I forget, the terrorists decide to defrost another old UniSol. This one played by our favorite Russian bad guy, Dolph Lundgren. Poor Dolph looks super-old in this movie. Even older than Van Damme. He's probably in the movie for 10 minutes despite being on the DVD cover. He spouts a few lines indicating he is now self-aware, and then proceeds to fight JCVD to the death. Technically, Dolph was playing a clone of the Dolph he played in part 1, who JCVD killed. You get that? How would you feel if somebody killed your clone? Really makes you think.
Meanwhile, the Russian Prime Minister chooses his children over the welfare of his country and gives in to the terrorists' demands. Way to go Russia! Nice government you have over there. The terrorists get their comrades freed, but decide "Fuck it, let's blow up the nuclear reactor anyway!". The terrorists proceed to set the detonator (with an impractically long countdown time) and leave the MMA fighter to ensure the explosion.
- Will JCVD reach the bomb in time?
- Will he do his patented spin kick?
- Will his stunt double perform a spin kick?
- What about the Prime Minister's kids? Who's gonna save those little fucker?
Well this isn't a horror movie so not much gore. More like a bunch of MMA type moves and holds. They're decent, if you're into that sorta thing. Van Damme does kill Dolph by throwing a pipe through his forehead, then firing a shotgun through the hole. Good work Van Damme!
T&A: Total sausage fest. I can't imagine a movie having less nudity than this. I'm not sure there was even a female in the movie.
In all of the fights JCVD had, it was pretty apparent that he was using a stunt double. And when JCVD was fighting Dolph, it looked like they were using 2 stunt doubles! Poor JCVD. Kinda sad. Kinda funny. I guess it wasn't hard to find a stuntman who looks like JCVD (the back of his head anyway).
WTF moment 2!?!
While JCVD is in killing machine de-tox, he has a relapse in a cafe, and practically kills an elderly man minding his own business. JCVD just snaps while drinking a coffee, and beats the shit out of the old guy. Then leaves the cafe like nothing happened. Totally random. Totally awesome. As WTF as it gets.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
By any objective measure, Universal Soldier Regeneration is another below average action flick. Subjectively though, as bad it was on many levels, I enjoyed it. It's certainly better than most of his recent 'character action' movies. Due to the plot, Van Damme, does little acting (which is his weakness), And due to his advanced age (dude's pushing 50), his stunt double does most of the fighting. So in an ironic way, it's the best of both worlds. He can neither act nor fight. Yet somehow, he's still out there kicking ass!
So, as long as JCVD is gonna make movies where he (or some guy who resembles him) is spin kicking bad guys, you can be sure that I'll be watching. Oh, who am I kidding? JCVD could probably start doing gay porn, and I'd probably watch.
Check out the trailer below.