Monday, February 4, 2013
UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING...This movie is on drugs!
The awesome Scott Adkins stars as John whose family was murdered by Luc played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. Since REGENERATION JCVD has escaped the government and has become Marlon Brando in APOCALYPSE NOW. He has gone up river into hiding converting other Universal Soldiers who are hunting him down. He has a mind freeing injection he gives soldiers who are programmed as sleeper agents for the government. When given the injection their vision strobes to white flashes causing the soldier to see the truth and the audience member watching too long at the screen to convulse on the floor uncontrollably and evacuate their bowels into their pants in front of their friends. At least that is what happened to me. Word of warning. Don't stare at the screen too long when the strobing happens. It will hurt your head. The piercing sound effects don't help either. Can't imagine what that would have looked like in 3D. Absolute hell, I imagine. JCVD plans on creating his own clone army to fight the government that created the Universal Soldier program. Fight fire with fire. That sort of thing. John is given the injection but it does not work. His memories help him resist which lead to occasional bizarre episodes of John seeing Luc in mirrors and such messing with his mind. John has to take the journey up river to find Luc and ultimately himself. How deep.
Scott Adkins is the new JCVD. The best way you can tell is that you don't even realize until the end that both JCVD and Dolph Lundgren are not in this film very much. We haven't had a solid reliable star in the eighties style action film for awhile. Scott fills their shoes perfectly. In a way at the end there is sort of this passing of the torch so to speak with Scott defeating JCVD. The two fights between Adkins and JCVD (who turns into a bloody looking clown from hell) and Dolph are the film's highlight. All the action scenes are fluid and brutal with blood all over the place and a high body count. It is exactly what you want to see. You can tell what is going on and there isn't an abundance of quick stylish cuts and camera shakes. I also appreciate that the car chase scene was more like two cars battling rather than a boring chase to see which vehicle can drive faster and turn corners better.
One of the best things about this DAY OF RECKONING is how it wasn't filmed in Bulgaria or Yugoslavia like so many other lower budgeted action films including REGENERATION. They all look too similar with few standing out from the crowd. DOR was filmed in Louisiana with a nice swamp setting which adds to the whole APOCALYPSE NOW vibe. The movie takes a big risk focusing a big part of its run time to the psychological element of brain washing, cloning and the whole what-is-real and who-can-you-trust type of shenanigans that usually happen in thrillers and not action movies. It does work well without being too convoluted. Even though maybe the film doesn't fully explain itself I did feel satisfied with the whole story by the end.
DAY OF RECKONING is a better film than REGENERATION. In REGENERATION the film's main character was Luc but he was barely in it with the film depending on the supporting cast to drive the story. They did a great job but I want to see my action star throughout the film. I watch a JCVD film to see JCVD. Scott Adkins is in DAY OF RECKONING throughout the story. This is a Scott Adkins action movie. The film rests on his badass appeal. DOR is better because Adkins is the star. He is better as the lead than a supporting character. Every movie he is in from now on should have his face bigger than everyone else on the poster. Make it so. Besides the painful strobing scenes for which there are two of I think the only thing that kind of sucks is that there is not enough Dolph. He really is fantastic in this film. But what can I say. I love the big guy. Like Adkins he is way too under appreciated. I would love to see a film where the two team up and take down some bad guy played by a former wrestler or something. You can throw in Segal for good measure too. Make it so too.