Universal Soldier: Regeneration

This movie is clearly a sign of the times.

While the first two Universal Soldier movies were already low budget, they were at least silly enough to be fun. Reanimated soldiers with cyborg bits duke it out in the desert? Sure! Hell, one of them even starred Stone Cold Steve Austin, and that's the definition of fun, right? Universal Soldier: Regeneration, on the other hand, taps mixed martial artist Andrei 'The Pit Bull' Arlovski as the dour tool of various villains.

The flimsy plot starts with a rebel faction that nabs the Russian president's kids with the aid of a snazy black SUV with a roll-cage welded on and some AK-47 assault rifles. The leader of the rebels calls for freedom, and talks about blood and blah blah blah. It doesn't matter what the hell he says, as it's all in Russian and like all Russian speeches it sounds like the Communist Manifesto. Long story short, he's going to blow up a disused nuclear reactor. Wait, one guy's a terrorist and the other guy is the President of Russia? Who exactly are we supposed to root for here?

Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), that's who! Unfortunately, Deveraux is in rehab with a psychiatrist (Emily Joyce) whose teaching him how to be a normal dude again. It's not really working out very well, as he beats the hell out of a guy in a cafe in Sweden for looking too Russian.

Meanwhile, the Americans and Russians assemble a joint strike force consisting of two platoons: one Russian, and the other American, plus four Universal Soldiers who somehow made it through the last two movies. The Bull Dog promptly beats the living hell out of the "UniSols" in a fine mixed martial arts exhibition. He then shoots the rest of the platoons, inflicting roughly a 97% casualty rating.

Eventually, the Russian president surrenders to the terrorist's demands, but the scientist who actually controls The Pit Bull kills the rebel leader,  resurrects Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), and restarts the bomb countdown, adding about twenty more minutes to an already over-long movie.

The good guys get around to sending Deveraux after shooting him up with some Hollywood Science, and while he's fit, he still looks beat to all hell and downright morose in places. This all culminates in a pre-final-battle battle between the two original soldiers, before the extra-stupid final battle between Deveraux and the Pitbull. Neither of these fights match the cheesy energy of the original and the second one completely disregards a major plot point.

Both Lundgren and Van Damme are looking worn down throughout the whole picture, and are a little too much like the reanimated corpses they're playing. You know, they really should have graduated to playing small, but important roles in the genre some time ago, a la Sonny Chiba playing Hatori Hanzo in Kill Bill . The Pit Bull, while a skilled fighter, makes JCVD look like Laurence Olivier .

I really can't recommend this movie for anything. It's so drab and brutal-being filled with depressing landscapes and dull action set pieces. There are tons of other movies with both Van Damme and Lundgren that are actually fun, such as Hard Target and Masters of the Universe respectively.