Universal Soldier - Regeneration (3 stars)

Universal Soldier - Regeneration

(18) 97 mins
(Optimum Home Entertainment)

The third official installment (wisely ignoring the two made for TV movies) in the Universal Soldier series is far better than it has any right to be. Jean-Claude Van Damme once again steps into the shoes of Luc Deveraux – a reanimated super soldier created by the US military – as terrorists kidnap the Russian Prime Minister’s children then take control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The action is gritty and vicious, with a particularly impressive final third which is essentially one long 30-minute action sequence. Dolph Lundgren also reprises his role as Andrew Scott and there’s an undeniable thrill in seeing two 80s action greats grappling again on screen. Cage fighter Andrei ‘The Pit Bull’ Arlovski is a solid, if mute, villain playing the near unstoppable Next Generation UniSol deployed by the terrorist faction. Some may be disappointed by Lundgren’s lack of screen time but after a slow start this is a surprisingly contemplative action film - echoing the tone of Van Damme’s postmodern dissection of his own public persona in JCVD and Stallone’s deconstruction of the action hero in the much underrated Rambo (2008) - that never glorifies its frequent bloody violence. Making of documentary, commentary and trailer as extras.

Available now on DVD and Blu-ray

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