Dolph Lundgren

Drinking Games

In case you missed it this past November, or you were too cheap to watch it for a premium price on demand, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. This gritty and violent installment in the Universal Soldier franchise reunites Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren as bad guys being hunted by a soldier seeking vengeance. Don’t ask me to explain how this all fits into the series of films. (To be honest, I lost track sometime in the 1990s.) However, it’s one of those rare down-the-line sequels that is actually worth seeing. And if you have a beer or two (or seven) while watching it, so much the better.

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Editor’s note: This review originally ran as part of our Fantastic Fest 2012 coverage, and since Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning in now playing in limited release, we reckon it’s a good time to repost it. As if slipping into a nine-year coma isn’t bad enough, John’s extended nap was preceded by the murders of his wife and daughter. He does not have the best of luck. As he begins to regain his memory, after waking from the coma he was beaten into at the end of a crowbar, John begins to hunt for his wife’s killer. All the while, mercenaries of highly advanced skills begin to stalk him, and the mysteries of his own past come spin-kicking to the surface. Spoiler: Universal Soldiers are involved. When John Hyams brought Universal Soldier: Regeneration to Fantastic Fest in 2009, expectations were hovering somewhere around the stickiest parts of the theater floor. That is no reflection upon Hyams, it’s just that the series, unlike the characters that populated the first film, seemed far too dead to revive. But what we got was an adrenaline shot to the heart of the franchise that reunited its legendary leads and gave us a reason to be fans again. Now, with the re-return of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, and burgeoning action hero Scott Adkins (Undisputed III, The Expendables 2) added into the mix, anticipation was decidedly higher for the next chapter. And perhaps that’s where the issue lie.

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et tu The Expendables?

It almost hurts to think about The Expendables. It was simply heartbreaking to see such a great concept squandered, buried in a mire of terrible effects, ridiculous over-exposited story and worst of all, poorly shot and cut action sequences. How could they have brought together some of the greatest living action stars for a modern action film, a seemingly simple endeavor, and still managed to screw up? So it was with “fool me once” eyes that we as action movie lovers gobbled up news stories on the inevitable sequel. Expanded parts for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis? Jean Claude Van Damme?! Chuck Norris!?! It wasn’t long before the excitement grew so big that it clouded our collective memory of the disappointment of the first film. With everyone important back, some great new faces and an R-rating secured, we allowed ourselves to hope that maybe they finally got it right. And while The Expendables 2 does deliver more of what we always wanted from these films, it’s still not quite the home run we wanted.

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The Expendables 2 at Comic-Con

People like to talk a lot in absolutes and turn everything into a competition. Hence, you hear a lot of “what won Comic Con” in regards to what panel absolutely floored people, generally with the reveal of footage. I can tell you with great certainty that The Expendables 2 did not win San Diego Comic-Con, but it sure as hell was a fun panel. The panel started with the same trailer we’ve already seen – hey, you’ve got to tease the crowd a little bit first, you can’t just come right out and show them something new. This was quickly followed up with a Stallone highlight reel set to some blistering rock and roll, from Black Sabbath to The Rolling Stones, with clips covering Rocky, Rambo, Assassins, The Expendables, The Expendables 2, and Tango and Cash! With a sufficiently manly introduction, the rest of the cast was brought out – Terry Crews climbed the table and Arnold Schwarzenegger got his own rocking clip show that spanned from Conan the Barbarian to Predator, Terminator, and True Lies. But what about new Expendables 2 footage!?

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The skin-crawling world of Small Apartments is presented without irony or judgment – so it’s not surprising that, in such an off-kilter environment, Matt Lucas’ Franklin Franklin (yes, that’s really his name) sounds relatively sane. Even when he’s off-handedly confessing to the murder of his landlord, Lucas’ delivery is so deadpan that no one takes him seriously – after all, why would Franklin kill anyone? Oh, possibly because (like everybody else in his crumbling apartment building) he’s totally deranged?

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My anticipation for the original The Expendables was massive, only to be matched in size and scope by my disappointment after I actually saw the film. Stallone’s new version of Rambo was awesome, it was packed full of R-rated action movie sleaze and it wasn’t at all ashamed of being exploitation. The Expendables looked like it was going to be a continuation of that, and also a massive team-up of bitchin’ 80s action stars the likes of which we’ve never seen. It didn’t really turn out to be all that though. It was kind of lame and boring, and really it was just a Stallone and Statham team-up movie with a handful of other cameos thrown in. So I’m approaching The Expendables 2 much more cautiously. But even with lowered expectations, I can’t help but feel a little bit of a tingle watching the first teaser. I don’t know if it’s going to be the classless, take no prisoners, R-rated schlock that I’m hoping for, but at least it looks like this one is finally going to be the huge team-up of old guys that I wanted from the first. The team-up aspect is all that can be discerned from this teaser though. It’s a teaser in the truest sense, basically we get the names and head shots of the principal cast and not much else.

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When Sylvester Stallone started casting for the original The Expendables it was said to be an all-star action icon meet up. Anybody who had ever been in an action movie before, and even a lot of dudes who just slept on those guys’ couches for a couple months, were all rumored to be in the film. When all was said and done, however, it mostly just ended up being a Stallone and Jason Statham team-up movie, with a dash of Jet Li, a sprinkle of Mickey Rourke, and a very brief cameo from the other big action icons Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. Not quite the all-star lineup people hoped for. Now that production is underway for a sequel, the rumor mill has once again been churning out hopes and dreams of an all-star action cast. Not only are Willis and Schwarzenegger supposed to have bigger roles this time around, but sources loosely associated with the project have intimated that huge names in the action genre like John Travolta, Chuck Norris, and Jean Claude Van Damme are all going to be in the cast as well.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; your check is almost certainly in the mail. Yes my unfortunate dupes, you’ve stumbled upon the weekly bad movie column that seriously calls into question the acronym TGIF; unless you reassign the letters to mean Tell God I Forfeit. Every Friday, right before you shuffle off for the weekend, I slap you upside the face with a film that fell well short of greatness long ago and is now selling insurance and renting a double-wide in a little town called Schlocksburgh. My job is to walk the dirt roads of Schlocksburgh under cover of night and hurl rocks of mockery at said double-wide until somebody calls the internet police. But then, just as I’m about to be booked for a hate crime, I tear off my shirt and reveal a crudely drawn homemade tattoo across my chest professing my undying love for said film. I then offer a disgustingly tasty themed snack as an act of contrition, and in the hopes of avoiding a bothersome restraining order. This Week’s Target: Blackjack

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David Varod is the CEO of a Bulgaria based film studio called Nu Boyana. This is notable because Sylvester Stallone and his new director pal Simon West are filming scenes for their upcoming sequel to Stallone’s team-up movie The Expendables in Bulgaria. This is newsworthy because Varod is claiming that some big names, not previously confirmed as being in The Expendables 2, are on their way to Bulgaria to film for the movie. When speaking to Novinite, Varod first confirmed that shooting was taking place in September, and then hinted that a lot of Hollywood stars would be moving into the country to do work, “Yes, we are definitely going to do that project. It is going to be a sequel the (sic) The Expendables. The shooting is going to take place the second week of September. The movie is on, definitely. It will be a very good thing for Bulgaria, since there are some very big stars coming.” Big stars, that makes sense. It’s long been assumed that the stars from the original film like Stallone, Jason Statham, and Mickey Rourke would return. There was even some notion that guys like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who only made small cameos in the first film, might return in larger roles this time. But when pressed to name off the “big stars” that would be making their way into the country, Varod named a few that could potentially be huge casting announcements.

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No matter who wins, you win. Well that doesn’t sound very climactic, does it? Which is fine, because Dolph Lundgren and Steve Austin aren’t actually fighting each other, what did you think this was, The Expendables? Instead, the real battle is you versus your fellow readers. An incestuous, cannibalistic orgy of mental violence to see who is The Winning Machine! All this non-sense and hyperbole aside, what I’m really trying to tell you is that the fine folks over at Anchor Bay have given us multiple copies of two exciting action films: The Stranger starring Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine written by, directed by, and starring Dolph Lundgren, the only man with a legitimate PhD that could kick my ass in a bar fight.

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I’m apt to employ the term temple when describing Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse. It is a place of holy reverence for cinema of all genres and visible levels of technical proficiency. The people who own and operate this glorious shrine to film are tried-and-true movie geeks and they know how to put together events that allow for communal worship and celebration of our passion. Last year they unleashed an event that, by its close, had graduated to force of nature: Cinemapocalypse. The premise was that Quentin Tarantino wanted to premier Inglourious Basterds in Austin and the epic epicness of that film called for something a bit more grandiose than a simple screening. So along with Basterds, QT brought two other films; personal favorites of his that inspired the main attraction. Veteran character actor, and all-around badass Robert Forster then introduced a film of his own and the evening concluded with two more films; six in total. The event ran all through the night and well into the next day. The first Cinemapocalypse was so loaded to the gills with pure awesome that its aforementioned awesomeness could not be contained within or quelled by just one event. It was a cinch that a second Cinemapocalypse would follow, but the anchor film would have to be something unbelievably amazing to match the power of Nazi killing and Hitler exploding. Luckily, Sylvester Stallone reached into his most manly of chests, ripped out a bloody rib, and gave birth to the ensemble of testosterone that […]

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Dolph Lundgren is a killing machine. Not sure if you were aware of that, but it’s apparently the truth. Don’t take my word for it though… August will see him back on the big screen in The Expendables facing off against his old nemesis Sylvester Stallone, but that action ensemble isn’t his only bullet-shaped iron in the fire. He has another flick hitting DVD and Blu-ray next month in the UK (and releasing domestically in October), and it’s called The Killing Machine. What it lacks in plot originality it more than makes for in bloody mayhem. Lundgren plays an ex-assassin named Icarus who has found a new life with a normal job and a loving family. But that would be a boring movie, so old enemies reappear in his life in order to end it and soon Icarus is forced to fly again. But with guns instead of wings. Check out the trailer and synopsis after the jump…

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Lionsgate has released a new 60-second trailer for Sly Stallone’s The Expendables. And despite its brief runtime, it may be the best trailer they’ve released for the name-heavy actioner yet. It accurately captures the promised tone of the film, one filled with bullets and bravado. A mountain of machismo. Oh, and they’ve improved their choice of music a bit — I can’t stand that metal song they used in the first full trailer.

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Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; official sponsor of the World Cup… of competitive eating. Yes I’m sorry to say you have just stumbled upon the secret to Roger Ebert’s stunning physique. Every week I occupy your time with some of the trashiest, cheesiest, crappiest, or sleaziest (I’m writing a Junkfood Cinema theme song) films from my personal collection. These are not the films you brag about owning, unless you are me, but they still offer some measure of guilty entertainment value.

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You’re looking forward to The Expendables, I’m looking forward to The Expendables, we’re all looking forward to The Expendables. Why? Because based on our most recent reader demographic survey, more than half of the people reading this are males.

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Lionsgate has released the first full trailer for Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming action power-house film The Expendables. And for the moment, it appears to also have a story to go along with big names, big muscles and explosions.

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Lionsgate has just sent over the high resolution poster for Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables. It debuted yesterday elsewhere, but I thought we’d wait until we had something that you could turn into your desktop background. This one may work, as it’s pretty high res.

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That’s right, start your Wednesday morning off right with yet another chance to win something free. This time it also comes personalized with an awesome quote from yours truly.

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Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; the column that has elevated me to public enemy number one with the State Department of Health! Every week I make an absolute pig of myself scarfing down heaping helpings of bad films that I can’t help but love. I will also provide the perfect, decadent snack to complement the viewing experience. Because if there is one thing that goes great with junkfood, it’s sitting on our asses for extended periods of time right? Ok, Health Department, I understand now why you hate me. So grab a seat, grab and fork, and let’s dig into this week’s entry: Rocky IV. If you aren’t familiar with this film franchise then let me be the first to welcome you back to Earth after what was clearly a 35 year exploration of the outer regions of space. Rocky, the original, is the ultimate underdog story about a boxer with a lot of talent and a lot of heart who cannot catch a break. When he is finally given the chance to prove himself, he does so to a degree that shocks the world. The sequel, Rocky II, is the story of that same underdog chasing redemption. Rocky III is about professional wrestlers and Mr. T. By the time we get to Rocky IV, we have already taken a healthy detour from the spirit of the original film and end up in a land of Commie giants, robot servants, and montages. The premise is that an unequivocally enormous boxer arrives […]

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universal-soldiers-3

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released the first trailer for the upcoming Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren movie Universal Soldier: Regeneration today, leaving us caught in a web of awesome.

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