Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

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.


Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Hard Romanticker The streets of Tokyo are awash in blood and attitude in this tale of warring thugs battling for supremacy and revenge. An old woman is killed during a burglary, and her hoodlum grandson mistakenly believes Gu (Shota Matsuda) was behind the murder. Gu finds himself targeted, but he’s far too cool to run and instead finds time to cause some carnage of his own. This is a hard and brutal film that finds both cruelty and black humor in the lives of these punks. No one escapes unscathed, and women fare extremely poorly, but the film makes an effort to take the romance out of these junior yakuza’s lifestyles. Artsploitation Films is still a young label, but their third (and best) release continues to get everything right. In addition to the fantastic film they’ve included a booklet featuring two in depth essays on the film. Also, while this may only matter to nerdy collectors like myself, they’re also wisely numbering their releases on the spine a la Criterion and Drafthouse Films. [Extras: Trailer, collector’s booklet]


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.


The Avengers

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news column that was on hiatus, but has now been back for a solid week. And it feels good to be back. As Ernie Hudson might remark, it loves this town. Short on List, Big on Effects – The big Oscar shortlist for Best Visual Effects has come out. And while it includes some of the ones you’d expect — The Avengers, Cloud Atlas, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises — there are also a few interesting surprises, including Prometheus, Life of Pi, John Carter and yes, even The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The question is this: will The Hobbit run away with this one due to a late-year release, or will people remember that ridiculous following shot through the war-torn streets of New York in The Avengers?


Joss Whedon

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the exact thing that your pop culture obsessed sensibilities needs after a long hard day of talking about the latest iPhone on Twitter. We begin this evening with that picture of Joss Whedon holding Captain America’s shield on the set of The Avengers. Not just because we like that shot, but because Whedon is talking about his SHIELD TV show in a new interview with MTV. He’s talking about new characters who aren’t superheros, but underdogs. Also notable up top is this excellent interview with Chris Evans, who has also been known to hold that shield.


Scott Adkins

Today, The Expendables 2 comes crashing into movie theaters across the country like a tank. With its Herculean roster of action legends, one name you might not yet recognize on the poster is that of Scott Adkins. We must stress, the “yet.” Adkins is currently fighting his way, literally, up the action cinema food chain. He appeared in such films as Ninja and The Bourne Ultimatum. He wowed many of us with his turn as vicious prisoner brawler Yuri Boyka in the Undisputed franchise. In Undisputed III: Redemption, he held his own with Mirageman himself, Marko Zaror. In addition to The Expendables 2, Adkins will again star alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, the “fourth” film in the franchise that was just announced as part of the second wave of this year’s Fantastic Fest. Not one to slow down, Adkins also stars in the action movie El Gringo, which is currently available on VOD services such as Amazon Instant Video. We kick around all these subjects with Mr. Adkins and he reveals, among other things, the status of Undisputed 4.

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published: 12.18.2014
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