Holy shit guys, I just saw the new Universal Soldier movie and it was incredible. Everything about it was done so well. I’m calling this the benchmark for what all action movies should strive for today and it was even reminiscent of the glory days which makes John Hyams my new favorite director. I mean you could actually understand what was going on during the fight scenes which seems to be an impossible task for new action. There’s very little (if any?) CGI which is huge in my book. The story is lean and mean too so you’re not gonna get lost. It’s about a mad Russian dude that takes over the old Chernobyl nuclear plant and threatens to blow it up releasing tons and tons of radioactive material into the air if certain political prisoners aren’t released. It’s as simple as that man. You don’t even really need to see the previous Universal Soldier movies to enjoy or understand this one, it works well on its own.
Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski was perfect as the bad guy. He’s a big dude and he has that Arnold Schwarzenegger thing going for him where if he plays someone that’s supposed to be an emotionless robotic brute then he’ll go far. He’s an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter so doing an action picture like this is perfect for him. His stoicism transfers through the screen so well that you can’t help but feel intimidated by this unstoppable machine.
Dolph Lundgren is really good too. He puts a lot of human emotion into a character that’s essentially supposed to be a robot and not think. He has a couple of philosophical speeches that really make you feel for him. His face has gotten so interesting to look at too. Gone are the cute boyish looks of Rocky IV. Now he has a menacing weathered visage to match his terrifyingly huge body.
But you know who stole the show? Van Damme. I know that might sound odd because he stars in it but he’s actually only in maybe half the movie. And he has become a real good actor guys. He proved it with JCVD and he’s just as good here. The last half hour is where he really shines because it’s non-stop action and he looks fucking badass as ever. He may look old in the face but he can still move.
I loved everything about this movie, especially the action scenes. I loved the way they were staged, shot and edited. It’s cool that Peter Hyams (John’s father) was the DP on this and that John edited it. You can tell that they took great care with the material and wanted to make it the best that they could and not something that’s just churned out. There’s even one part that’s reminiscent of Children of Men (or even Hard Boiled but more Children of Men) where it’s one long shot of Van Damme going from room to room killing bad guy after bad guy mercilessly and it’s jaw dropping. The opening scene is fucking crazy too and involves an awesome car chase.
After seeing both of John Hyam’s fucking fantastic documentaries about MMA and bull riding I knew he had talent but no idea that he could make the effortless and perfect jump to features. I really hate that technically this is a B movie because no one is gonna give this a chance. Everyone’s gonna think (myself included), “another Universal Soldier? That can’t possibly be good”. But I’m tellin’ ya everything about it is A quality. It’s way better than almost every action film put out in theaters in the last I-don’t-even-know-how-many years. See it guys. It blew my mind way the hell out of here.