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Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John Hyams

Starring:
Scott Adkins/John
Jean-Claude Van Damme/Luc
Dolph Lundgren/Scott
Andrei Arlovski/Magbus
10 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
John's (Scott Adkins) wife and daughter are murdered by mysterious assailants and when he wakes up in the hospital after a 9 month long coma (get it, 9 months, rebirth), he has one thing on the fritz: track them, find them, kill them. It winds up not being as simple as it initially seemed.
THE LOWDOWN

Ahhh Universal Soldier…what a fascinating franchise! It first gunned out as a mainstream, big budget Sci-Fi actionner directed by Roland Emmerich in 1992, then took the TV Movie/STD sequel path with the 1998 Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (Starring Burt Reynolds and Gary Busey…what????) and the 1999 Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (again with Reynolds), to then go back on the big screen in 1999 (with Van Damme returning), ignoring its STD counterparts via the misfire Universal Soldier The Return, to finally be revived by John Hyams refreshing take on the Uni-Sol world in 2012: Universal Soldier Regeneration. What Hyams did with Regeneration was ground the franchise's sci-fi elements, crank up the grittiness and up the brutality quota. And now the organic evolution of Hyams vision has reached new heights in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER DAY OF RECKONING.

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER DAY OF RECKONING played out like a Cannon movie directed by Stanley Kubrick or/and David Lynch. The story was challenging, existential (yeah you heard me) and often enough, the ins and outs were left up to interpretation. There was a mystery to solve and Hyams slyly put us in the protagonist's shoes (reminded me of Angel Heart) when it came to deciphering it. We knew what John knew and that made the discoveries we made with him result in an engrossing sit down. The narrative went on to take me in directions that I didn’t expect which is always rewarding for this a-hole, right down to echoing Apocalypse Now! NICE! Furthermore Day of Reckoning re-thought and expanded on the rules of the series (like the "how", "what" and 'why" behind the Unisols) and I dug where they went with it. A door was definitely left wide open for a sequel, lots of directions were available as the end credits rolled. Hey, if I get more GENIUS like this, I am IN!

The aesthetics of the flick mirrored the meat in terms of their out there demeanor. There were more akin to what you’d find in an art film than say a mainstream sci fi action flick. Mucho experimental and LSD-ish trippy... you’re either gonna love it or hate the shite out of it. I totally got into it. Am talking gripping POV shots, creative use of fade ins-fade outs, some strobe-light action and hypnotizing long takes. But fear not when the action kicked in Hyams delivered the mustard! Arresting slow motion, long tracking shots (that "Adkins f*cks everything up in sight" bit was one for the books) and lots of wide/medium shots to make sure we SEE every punch and every kick. Speaking of the fights, they were INTENSE and BRUTAL! I saw the Rated R version (I hear the Blu-ray will be uncut) and it was one hell of a mean spirited affair that didn’t pull any punches, instead it crashed them through my hollow skull. Brilliantly choreographed and hardcore violent, this had to be the best hand to hand fights in an American action flick this year! Often due to Adkins mad skills! I couldn’t get enough! NOTE: That car chase that preceded one of the key fights was freaking NUTS!

On the acting front, Scott Adkins has finally come into his own as a leading man with this movie. He brought intensity, charisma, empathy and nuance to his character and I felt for the guy! On his end Dolph Lundgren partied hard with the role once more (even going as far as spitting out a one-liner from the first film: "That’s the spirit soldier”). You can never get enough Dolph, and the film came to life even further when he surfaced onscreen. What about Jean Claude Van Damme you may ask? Well I don’t want to reveal too much. Let’s just say that his character of Luc Deveraux has evolved since Regeneration and to me the path they chose made a lot of sense. Van Damme gave a subdued, nuanced, unnerving and hypnotizing show. He was one of the film’s key strengths. Finally Andrei Arlovski was efficient as the go-to killer Unisol. There was just something about him that was off key, yet he was captivating to watch. You bet the crazy beard helped! He showed off some pretty tight fighting skills too!

Any negatives? Hardly. I felt that the Adkins versus Jean Claude Van Damme get-down was lacking a tad. Not sure if it was because the previous fights were so damn badass that it paled in comparison, but I was hoping for more! Moreover, Van Damme’s character limited screen time worked in favor of the story but I needed more Dolph, he should’ve had a more prominent role in the story. With that, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER DAY OF RECKONING acted like a sucker punch. I expected “pretty good” and what I got was “holy shit awesome”! I’ve actually been thinking about the flick since I saw it last night, mulling it over it, didn't see that coming! It is more than you thinki t will be and you'll embrace it or kick it to the curb, Personally it’s one of my top films of the year. So you ready to trip out with JCVD, Lundgren and Adkins! F*CK YEAH!

GORE
Where do I begin? Cut off fingers, cut off foot, grisly bully hits, chick used a s a human shield from gunfire, a machete in the arm… trust me, you’ll be all good if you like your genre steak rare!
T & A
We get lots of boobies during a brothel scene and a strip club bit. The ladies and gay dudes get full frontal male nudity.
BOTTOM LINE
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER DAY OF RECKONING could do no wrong in my ring! I relished its off the wall and deep storyline, its trippy audio/visual style, strong acting, insane action scenes and its "take no prisoners" attitude. Yes more Dolph would have been swell and the Adkins/Van Damme final fight lacked a bit compared to what came before it but overall - SOLD! A testosterone fueled orgy of violence matched with boldness, an original streak and smarts to boot. If you're craving something a bit more insane and psychedelic to go along with your wam-bam Van Damme... you may dig it the most! Bring on the next one!!
BULL'S EYE
Scott Adkins grew up idolizing Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme, both gents inspired him to start training.

The flick was shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA with a budget of 11 Million or so.

Look out for a cameo by boxing Legend Roy Jones, Jr.
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+0
4:58AM on 01/31/2013

Arrow, I'm not with you on this one

Arrow, I judge what movies to see based on your reviews here and agree with your choices almost all of the time but I'm not with you at all on this one. It seems to me that the director was handed a really bad script and saw it as an opportunity to play around with Enter The Void's visual effects to amuse himself while shooting it to,prevent dying of boredom.

1000
Arrow, I judge what movies to see based on your reviews here and agree with your choices almost all of the time but I'm not with you at all on this one. It seems to me that the director was handed a really bad script and saw it as an opportunity to play around with Enter The Void's visual effects to amuse himself while shooting it to,prevent dying of boredom.

1000
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11:50AM on 11/05/2012

That`s the spirit soldier!

My kind of Action-Movie! Can`t wait for the unrated version!
My kind of Action-Movie! Can`t wait for the unrated version!
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