Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins, Kristopher Van Varenberg, James Rawlings, Mariah Bonner, Sigal Diamant, Andrei Arlovski, Rus Blackwell, David Jensen, Roy Jones Jr., Audrey P. Scott
Written by: John Hyams, Doug Magnuson, Jon Greenhalgh, based on a story by John Hyams, Moshe Diamant, and on characters created by Richard Rothstein, Christopher Leitch, Dean Devlin
Directed by: John Hyams
MPAA Rating: R for brutal bloody violence throughout, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and language
Running Time: 114
Date: 08/23/2012
IMDB

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Art in Action

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director John Hyams (son of veteran director Peter) turns in a most peculiar and welcome sequel to this aging sci-fi/action franchise. It's as if David Lynch collided with a truckload of martial artists and brawlers and the resulting explosion caused this strange, moody universe, full of odd sound cues, shocking, dreamlike imagery, and less flashy, more vivid fight scenes.

John (Scott Adkins) is awakened in the night to find masked intruders in his home. They kill his wife and daughter, and the leader reveals himself as super-soldier Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Months later, John awakens from a coma, with his memory fuzzy. He tries to find Deveraux and to figure out what's going on. He meets a mysterious, beautiful woman, Sarah (Mariah Bonner), and keeps encountering a vicious, bearded plumber who tries to kill him. Meanwhile, bad guy Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) appears to be training a new army of unisols. By the time John reaches the final showdown, he will have discovered some disturbing truths about his past.

Many fans will be disappointed -- and perhaps tune out -- when they realize that longtime stars Van Damme and Lundgren hardly appear in this one (and never together), but star Scott Adkins makes up for that lack, and the surprising and unusual style helps as well. Unlike most action movies, the fight scenes are long, wide, and clear, and every move registers. One climactic fight scene in particular is filmed in a single, long, traveling take. For all audiences that appreciate "something different," here's hoping Hyams continues to provide it.
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