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3/07/2013

Review: 'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren



Don’t you miss good old fashioned action movies? You know the ones with the muscled guys that are some type of military dude that’s unstoppable in some way? The times before CGI took over and all the big time movies were about superheroes or car drivers. Well it seems the old guard is there for you to fill that need in your brain. Jean Claude Van Damme is back again in one of his franchises from his stardom heyday but this time it’s straight to On Demand.

Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning begins when a group of masked men enter the home of a family, murdering the wife and daughter in front of an unknown man after beating him. Later after an unknown amount of time he awakens in a hospital and we find out his name is John. John decides that he will find the man who did this to him and murdered his family. This man’s name is Luc Deveraux. John then goes on a quest to find out where Deveraux is and in the process learns some things about his own past and origins.

To be completely honest this film has a lot of problems from pacing to plot to character development and much more. Other than the very beginning in the setup and the very last 15 minutes or so none of the movie makes much sense. The main character goes on this journey but there are times when it goes off to this base with what we are supposed to believe are other UniSols (The reanimated/clone dead soldiers that are the focus of the franchise) that are led by Deveraux but all they do is fight each other. They also focus on this bearded man named Magnus who is constantly pursuing John much like the Terminator and Jason Voorhees do their victims. It’s not really explained why he is sent to do so since the scene that sets it up is randomly inserted into the first act.

In terms of performances there really isn’t much here to make you want to watch. Jean Claude Van Damme seems to be having some fun in returning to his role as Luc Deveraux. This time it feels like he’s playing this character as a super soldier version of Colonel Kurtz, even sporting the bald head. Scott Adkins does a pretty decent job as John who is driven but doesn’t know what’s really going on, which probably wasn’t hard since it’s difficult for anyone to know what’s going on in this movie.  Dolph Lundgren is basically playing himself here. They never really explain how his character, Andrew Scott, is alive again or why he’s allied with Deveraux after being his enemy. They probably figured no one really cares.  He makes some grave comments and has a couple of quick fight moments and is pretty much in the movie to sell to fans of the original.

The movie isn’t a complete mess, though. The action set pieces that involve Magnus killing people and John facing Magnus in a fight are all really well done and choreographed. The last 20 minutes features a ton of action that flows together nicely.  Overall, this movie is at best SyFy Channel material and the story doesn’t make much sense at all no matter if you’ve seen the previous movies or if you haven’t. It’s pretty much a waste of time save yourself the pain of buying it by not.