I want to preface this review with making it clear that when I review a movie, it’s based on the film’s merit in its respective genre and whether I felt the filmmakers were trying to make a good film. So with that said, I was fairly impressed with UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION. Not because it was a great film, but because it was a solid action film that took itself seriously and rose above its obvious budget constraints.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the 4th entry in the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER franchise. The first one made in 1992 and Directed by then new-comer, Roland Emmerich was no masterpiece and I only mildly liked it because it pitted Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren against each other as a sort of clash of the “genetically engineered super-soldiers” titans. It’s stupid fun with the emphasis on stupid.
However, this new entry has a little more finesse to it. Directed by John Hyams (the son of Director Peter Hyams) it sets out to tell a compelling story with lots of raw action and does a great job doing it. REGENERATION in no way re-invents the wheel, but it’s a well-made wheel that’s worth taking for a spin.
The plot is simple: Terrorists kidnap a politician’s children as well as take over the abandoned Chernobyl power plant. They have a bomb that they’re planning to detonate in the remaining radiation-filled reactor if their demands are not met. The one catch is they have an upgraded version of the UniSol super soldiers played to violent excess by Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski. When “Plan A” fails, they seek out Van Damme’s Luc Deveraux to save the day. Then a lot of people die and shit blows up…oh yeah, the bad guys also defrost Dolph Lundgren’s Andrew Scott, who is having a crisis of conscience ala Roy Batty in BLADE RUNNER.
The action is mostly achieved through practical effects, which gives the movie its visceralness. The fights are bloody and violent and well choreographed. I have to give this movie points for keeping me entertained throughout and it’s obvious that everyone involved set out to make a decent action film. They succeeded.