[Movie Review] A Dark New Approach Delivers A Surprisingly Brutal & Original Take On The Series. A Review of ‘Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning’

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Director: John Hyams

Starring: Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski

Release Date: November 30 (limited theaters) / Currently Available on VOD

A Review By: Kevin Lovell

Rating: 7/10

Plot Summary:

John looks to take down Luc Deveraux after a home invasion claims his wife and daughter. The fight pits John against Andrew Scott and an army of genetically enhanced warriors; meanwhile, he must contend with a UniSol in relentless pursuit.

Continue on after the jump for the review

The latest installment in the Universal Soldier franchise which once again reunites Jean-Claude Van Damme & Dolph Lundgren as well as director John Hyams (director of the previous film in the series ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’). This film marks the fourth official Universal Soldier film though Hyams has stated they ignored ‘Universal Soldier: The Return’ or rather considered it in an alternate universe of the series, and treated ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ as a direct sequel to the original with this film being the third chapter. ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning’ is a very different beast from any of the previous films in the series, almost giving off the feeling it was being treated more as a dark new spin on the series.

The film focuses on the character of John (newcomer to the franchise Scott Adkins) who is forced to watch as a team of renegade UniSol’s invade his home and murder his wife and daughter in cold blood.  Following this he goes out on a one man mission to find the truth, and to find the leader of the renegade UniSol team that took his family, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme).  What ensues is some of the most brutal balls out action you are likely to see in any film this year. After the disaster that was ‘Universal Soldier: The Return’ in my opinion, it’s quite refreshing to see a director such as John Hyams who seems to truly understand this series and what exactly it’s fans want from it.  That became quite evident in ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ which legions of UniSol fans stood behind and deemed as being the first true sequel to the original film.

I understand that there are going to be a fair number of people here who are not going to like this film simply due to the fact that it dares to do something completely different from it’s predecessors while still staying true to the brutal nature and general idea of the series.  The dark vibe of this film plays more like a brutal revenge film than a Science Fiction/Action film but if you’re willing to give it a chance it really pays off.  While Van Damme has surprisingly little screen time (i think he spoke his second line near 80-90 minutes in) there is reason to celebrate for fans of Dolph Lundgren (who i personally feel is the best part of these films) as he gets considerably more screen time than Van Damme for a change.  Make no mistake going in though that the main focus of this film is indeed on the character of John (Scott Adkins), but the guy really does an amazing job and some of his fight sequences in this film are truly breathtaking as well as being uncompromisingly brutal.

The film does indeed have it’s flaws and some things seem to make little to no sense, but in the end those mistakes can be generally forgiven in the overall aspect of what is delivered.  This daring and original dark new take on the series might be just what the ‘Universal Soldier’ franchise needed to get itself cooled down and ready for action once again.  I would recommend giving it a chance if you’re a fan of the series, or even if you’re just looking for an action film that really delivers on the breathtaking fight sequences.  I think the film works quite well even on a standalone level.

Warning to those with epilepsy or who are prone to reactions due to strobe like effects, this film contains a number of scenes with VERY heavy amounts of non stop strobe effects.  I personally am not usually affected by such things and even I had to look away for a moment or two.

‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning’ is currently available on Video On Demand and will also have a limited theatrical run beginning this coming Friday November 30, 2012 via Magnet Releasing.

You can check out three trailers and a featurette for the film  directly below.

 

  Rating: 7/10

 

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