After spending $14 million on production costs, Sony Pictures unfortunately decided to go straight to DVD for UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, rather than take it to theaters. That's sad, because this is a pretty good B grade action/Sci Fi film that is pretty satisfying. While both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren look a little old here, both give some pretty good action performances. Dolph Lundren even seems to channel a little bit of the old Frankenstein's monster here as an out of control creation that kills his inventor/creator. And Jean-Claude Van Damme is quite an effective action star once again. But, the biggest find here is Russian heavyweight ultimate fighting champion, Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski, who looks positively intimidating and puts in some of the best fight scene performances of the film. Arlovski reminds viewers of the intimidating presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the TERMINATOR films in many ways. He's a great screen presence, and deserves to get many acting gigs.
The storyline of UNIVERSAL SOLDIER:REGENERATION is pretty good as well. Some terrorists, who represent a breakaway Russian Republic, kidnap the Russian Prime Minister's son and daughter, and take over the crippled Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant threatening to create a nuclear release cloud by detonating a bomb. One of the prime protectors of the terrorist's mission is a super-soldier unit UniSol NGU(Arlovski), who is a virtually unstoppable unit able to defeat entire army units all by himself. A former UniSol(Van Damme) must be reactivated by the military to stop the terrorists. However, another NGU unit(Lundgren) who is mentally unstable is also activated, but goes berserk reactivating the bomb after the terrorists and the Russian government reach an agreement, once again creating the danger of a giant radioactive cloud. It isn't a bad plot at all, and the movie is pretty good considering only a $14 million budget to work with.
Much of the film was shot in Bulgaria to save money, using a closed steel plant, which provides an extremely effective set for the film. The producers of the film likened this set to a "haunted house" for the UniSol NGU unit to roam around in and cause serious mayhem.
While not a great film by any means, this is a solid enough B grade film that really satisfies. It is certainly worth buying on DVD or Bluray or even renting.
The bottom line: ++1/2(two and a half stars out of four), or a pretty good B grade movie by all means.