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Release Date: November 30th, 2012
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Director: John Hyams
Cast:  Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski
Plot: John (Scott Adkins, The Expendables 2) wakes up from a coma to discover his wife and daughter were slaughtered in a brutal home invasion. Haunted by images of the attack, he vows to kill the man responsible, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme).

While John tries to piece his reality back together, things get more complicated when he is pursued by a relentless UniSol (Arlovski). As John gets closer to Deveraux and the rouge army of genetically enhanced warriors led by back-from-the-dead leader Andrew Scott (Lundgren), John discovers more about himself and begins to call into question everything he believed to be true.

Thoughts: I am a huge fan of the original Universal Soldier. It is not only one of the best tough guy action movies, but also has an awesome sci-fi element thrown it. Van Damme vs Lundgren racks right up there with Stallone vs Lundgren in Rocky 4. I was such a big fan of the original that I watched the two Soldier TV movies and even saw The Return in theaters (big mistake there).

John Hyams was able to breath new life in the series with Universal Soldier: Regeneration, reuniting both Van Damme and Lundgren. Now he brings the series forward again (and back into theaters) with Day of Reckoning, which shifts the focus from the two leads but continues to change the franchise into a movie series with legs and a ton of possibilities for the future. I just hope the trailer for Reckoning is misleading, because I’d hate to see Luc Deveraux make a full turn to the “dark side”.

In addition to watching the movie in theaters, you can order Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning right now on demand!

What can I say about this one? I did not like the first one and yet, thanks to an old friend of mine, I’m now the not so proud owner of the following statement; “I saw The Expendables 2 in theaters.” What can I say about this film that you cannot already predict from the trailers that were released? Was the acting bad??? Yeah, you didn’t see that one come a mile away? Is the action good??? It’s actually underwhelming. Are the one liners are rapid fired?!? Of course they are!

(spoilers follow) The Expendables 2 follows the group as they are black mailed into doing a top secret mission for the mysterious Church (Bruce Willis) that sees them heading to Eastern Europe. However, before they can complete the mission, they are thrown for a whirlwind when one of the members of the team is brutally killed and their loot is stolen. Now, they’re on both a mission for Church and a mission of revenge as they find themselves becoming heroes in one of the most unlikely places. This is a film riddled with cliches and judging from the plot line I just provided, it shows you that there’s no ingenuity here. You’ve seen this plot a hundred times before and I know we’ll see a rehash of it down the line. For a men on a mission-vigilante-revenge tale it is not even executed all that well. The plot will get you shaking your head more then once and that’s just a big no-no in my book.

The film’s best actor is actually its youngest one in Liam Hemsworth and I cannot help but feel that he, like his brother Chris, is a future action star. The guy has great screen presence and easily held his own against all these action vets. Speaking of them, how in the hell did Jean Claude Van Damme become the most entertaining of them all?!? As Jean Vilian, he was brilliant as the film’s bad guy and I cannot help but think that he should be sticking to playing the villain and this might be his best turn since starring in JCVD. I will say that Chuck Norris’ entrance in the film was a hoot and his presence on the screen was appreciated after so many years off, but I absolutely hated that they butchered the classic “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” music to elevate his character. That really wasn’t cool.

The story of the film was really stupid though and in the end the novelty of the premise is wearing off. Not sure if I’ll be back for a third installment, but I know that these guys had enough fun to want to come back. And how can you blame them? They have nothing else going for them. Well, except for Arnie and Stallone. And maybe JCVD if he can build some momentum and stick to more comedic roles. Was this film a good bad film? Yes. Just wait for this one to hit a Redbox near you. Not worth the price of admission. Everybody in this film has done better. Everybody.

*½

Release Date: August 17, 2012
Studio: Universal
Director: Simon West
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Charisma Carpenter, Terry Crews, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Plot: The Expendables are reunited when Mr. Church enlists them to take on a seemingly simple job. When things go wrong, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory, where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time – five tons of weapons-grade plutonium, more than enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary they seek revenge from.

Thoughts: I feel like I’m in a minority when I say that I’m not a big fan of the first Expendables. To me it was like a lot of the straight to DVD films that most of the cast was starring in before this big nostalgic reunion. It was too violent for its own good with poor acting, poor story telling, and poor directing- even if the cast was having a blast on screen (literally and figuratively).

For me, I do have some raised expectations when it comes to The Expendables 2, with a change in director and writers. But most of all because of the inclusion of some of the more funnier leading action man of yesteryear in Arnie, Bruce Willis, and Jean Claude Van Damme (who also impressed the hell out of me in JCVD). I’m hoping for a film that improves on the first one. The trailers have been pretty cool and I’m hoping this is just a lot more fun then the first film and that it becomes a little more cheesey (on purpose) and a bit little less serious. If director Simon West gets the tone right this time around, I think it will be safe to say that The Expendables is the newest action franchise for a lot of these yesteryearers,. I’m just hoping this one pans out, especially since I’d like to see a few new Chuck Norris movies- it has been far too long, even if he’s spent his break saying things that, well, I don’t necessarily agree with.

I’m geeked out about this movie in the past, but now we actually have footage for Universal Soldier: Regeneration! Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are back and will try to kill each other again, in a sequel to one of my favorite childhood action films. Here is the trailer…

Joining the action legends is UFC Fighter Andrei Arlovski. Sadly, the film will not be hitting theaters. I thought this would be Jean-Claudes best chance to have an action film how it was meant to be seen on the big screen, but I guess I was wrong. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

For some strange reason, it really does not feel like the weekend. Anyhows, here are a few articles and videos to keep you busy with your morning coffee, tea, hot coca, or whatever you might prefer.

  • JCVD is out in limited release in New York City! Next week it expands to six more cities. Time has an excellent look at the new film starring the Muscles from Brussels in a role unlike anything he has ever been in. (Time)
  • No Good TV has an exclusive behind the scenes look at Repo! The Genetic Opera. (NGTV)
  • FOX has released a trailer for their two hour 24 TV movie, 24: Redemption.  Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) beats up a whole bunch of new bad guys… (Variety)
  • It is pretty much official, Brett Ratner is going to wreck another franchise. (THR)

The MTV Movies Blog is reporting that Jean-Claude Van Damme has signed on the dotted line to be in a new Universal Soldier movie!

The original Universal Soldier co-starred Dolph Lundgren. Van Damme and Lundgren portrayed soldiers who were killed in Vietnam, only to be reanimated as “perfect” soldiers through a secret project by the Army. Of course the movie ended with an epic battle between the two action heroes.

The series had two direct to TV sequels, Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business, which starred Matt Battaglia before Van Damme returned to the series in 1999’s Universal Soldier: The Return.

The new film, which is tentatively titled Universal Soldier III: A New Beginning, is being directed by Simon Fellows who helmed Van Damme’s Until Death.

Earlier rumors indicated that Dolph Lundgren might be returning for the new film also, but sadly Van Damme debunked the rumor, telling MTV he fought to get Dolph into the movie but apparently the studio thinks that Lundgren has “no more value”. I have to kindly disagree.

Good morning.  A lot of stuff has been happening online, here is a sampling from around the web for your morning tea or coffee.
  • Want to stop regretting the dozen e-mails you sent to your ex that night you had a few too many shots? Try on some Google Beer Goggles. (CNN)
  • Ninja Cats are awesome… yet creepy. (YouTube)
  • Fox has announced plans to make a Wall Street sequel. Seriously guys? At a time like this? Seriously? (Variety)
  • Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as War Machine in Iron Man 2. I guess they wanted to go with someone tougher? (THR)
  • Have you seen the trailer for JCVD yet? (Yahoo)