Jean-Claude Van Damme stepped out of his comfort zone with his last movie, JCVD, to play a dramatic/comedy role. He surprised many people by actually being pretty good. Now with his current release, Van Damme returns to very familiar territory with Universal Soldier: Regeneration, the third film in the series.
A rogue military commander named Topov (Zahary Baharov) has taken the son and daughter of the Prime Minister hostage. He is threatening to blow up the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant in 72 hours unless his republic is granted independence and his comrades are released from prison.
With the help of a scientist-for-hire, Dr. Colin (Kerry Shale), Topov has a secret weapon that he believes makes his plan unstoppable. He has the newest version Unisol (universal soldier) known as NGU, a genetically altered super-soldier at his disposal. The NGU is played by former Ultimate Fighter champion Andrei ‘The Pit Bull’ Arlovski.
After 2 failed military operations, the leaders in charge of rescuing the Prime Ministers kids and stopping Topov decide there is only one thing left to do: find and reactivate Luc Deveraux (Van Damme), who is considered the best of the original Unisols.
Luc has been living in Switzerland receiving therapy from Dr. Sandra Flemming (Emily Joyce). She has been trying to help Luc reassimilate himself into society.
What know one knows is that waiting inside for Luc is his old nemesis Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), Luc’s crazy commander from the Vietnam War and another former original Unisol, and his mood is still not any better.
Director John Hyams and debuting writer Victor Ostrovsky do not waste anytime holding back the action as in the first minute of the movie we see a guns blazing shootout followed directly by a fast paced car chase scene. The action is never in too short of supply as there is plenty of bone breaking fight sequences and high powered gun fights to keep any fan of this genre happy.
If you are cast as a Unisol, then you do not need any real acting talent. Unisols are emotionless and expressionless. This makes for a perfect role for Van Damme as he has never been accused of having any acting talent. Of course, I wouldn’t say this to his face because even though he is almost 50 years old, Van Damme can still throw a pretty mean kick and punch as evidenced in this movie.
Arlovski is not given any real material to show us if he can act. His lines basically consist of “Yes”, “No”, “Good”. The one thing we do know for definite sure is he can really kick butt.
Lundgren is the only Unisol with any real personality. Dolph is still scary as the out-of-control Unisol Andrew Scott.
Van Damme’s son Kristopher Van Varenberg has a small role in the film as Dr. Collin’s assistant, Miles. Arlovski is not the only mixed-martial artist in this movie, fellow UFC fighter Mike “Quicksand” Pyle plays a soldier named Captain Kevin Burke, who gets sent in to try and rescue the Prime Minister’s kids by himself.
John Hyam’s father Peter, a successful director himself, has worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme before. He was the director and cinematographer for Sudden Death (1995) and Timecop (1994). For Universal Soldier: Regeneration, he serves as cinematographer and producer.
If you’re looking for a movie with great character and plot development, then you won’t find it here. However, if you’re in the mood for some high energy action, then Universal Soldier: Regeneration would be a decent choice.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration is currently available on DVD. Click on the movie screen below to view its trailer.