Twenty year. after the sci-fi actioner that starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren was released, this official fourth installment may seem someone unnecessary. However, add Scott Adkins to the mix and have Van Damme in a role reversal and you have a sleeper hit on your hands.
A family man, John (Adkins), finds himself assaulted by a band of masked robbers. He also witnesses his wife and daughter killed at the hands of the ringleader, Luc Devereaux (Van Damme). After waking up from a 9-month coma, he only seeks one thing: revenge.
Meanwhile, Devereaux has plans to turn against the government and the very program that created him and the rest of the Unisols. With assistance from Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), a former rival Unisol now ally and Magnus (Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski), Devereaux plans to overthrow the government and the government’s only hope is John, who along his path for revenge, soon learns everything may not be what it seems.
The Unisols are back and it is a whole new world this time around. With the resurgence of both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in the 2009 sequel/reboot UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, it is clear that these two have not lost a step. This time around, the action is amped up as well as the emotional portion of the film.
In a shocking move, Van Damme’s heroic Luc Devereaux as the villain of the film. Sporting a complete shaven head, Van Damme shows a more emotional performance as the former heroic Unisol now hellbent on leading a new regime against the government, who created them. He channels a performance similar to that of Marlon Brando’s psychotic performance in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979), even going as far as sporting some pretty horrific looking face paint in the film’s climax.
This time around, Scott Adkins takes over as the new hero. Once again, Adkins turns in a terrific performance. As the tortured soul John, Adkins has only one thing on his mind: revenge. However, as he goes on his quest, he begins to notice things that do not make sense and a shocking revelation is imminent. Meanwhile, Dolph Lundgren seems to have fun with his returning role of Andrew Scott, looking like a propaganda item or even, a commercial per se, for the Unisol regime while MMA champion and REGENERATION co-star Andrei Arlovski returns as Magnus, sporting a full beard and poses more like a robot, making his role somewhat seem wasted. Yet, for some strange reason, it bodes as a necessity in the plot.
In charge of the fight scenes this around is a KFC favorite, Larnell Stovall. This time around, Stovall uses a more realistic tone to the fight scenes rather than the flashy styles used in some of his previous work. Yet, he does let Adkins let loose his kicking abilities in three major fight scenes. Some of the violence here is pretty graphic and gory, with the highlights of the film being Adkins taking on Arlovski in two fights and then his climactic fights against both Lundgren and Van Damme are quite enjoyable. One can be said to be in shock when Adkins fights wearing a white tank top and ends up with the shirt in crimson.
Despite some annoying strobe effects in two scenes, UNIVERSAL SOLDER: DAY OF RECKONING may seem unnecessary. However, it is interesting to see an alternate vision of the saga. Despite its gore effect, the action is amped up and quite fun at times. Definitely worth a rental.