The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 2009 - Sony Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski
Directed by: John Hymas
Music by: Kris Hill, Michael Krassner
Written by: Victor Ostrovsky
Region Code: Free
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 2, 2010
"Reanimated. Rearmed. The Ultimate Rematch."
With stolen top-secret technology, terrorists have created a next-generation Universal Soldier - an elite fighter genetically altered into a programmable killing machine. With this "UniSol" (Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski) leading the way, they seize the crippled Chernobyl nuclear reactor, threatening to unleash a lethal radioactive cloud. The only one who can stop them is Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a UniSol who's been decommissioned for years. Reactivated and retrained, Deveraux must make a full-out assault on the heavily armed fortress. But inside, he'll discover not one but two of these virtually indestructible warriors. Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), Deveraux's vicious UniSol enemy from the original Universal Soldier, has been secretly reanimated and upgraded. Now, these elite fighters are locked, loaded and programmed to kill; and the fate of millions hinges on this high-action showdown.
I have not seen any of the ‘Universal Soldier’ films and skipped them in the 90’s with the preconceived notion that they were the ultra-cheesy movies that they looked like. After watching ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ I still have a sneaking suspicion that the earlier films still might be and that this is the exception to the rule (I am going to make a point to see the original!). Helmed by John Hyams, ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ was a technically proficient production with great sound, effects and cinematography by dad, Director Peter Hymas (Outland, Running Scared). Yes it has a clichéd plot; the son and daughter of the Russian Prime Minster are kidnapped and held for ransom at the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in exchange for the release of political hostages and freedom for their homeland. The terrorists have bought their own new and improved model of the now extinct ‘UniSol’ by paying off one of the creators of the original program (who has a back-up plan of his own). Needless to say, only a ‘UniSol’ can fight and possibly defeat one of its own kind; here is where good ol’ Jean-Claude Van Damme comes in. After years of rehabilitation to become normal again, he gets the ‘UniSol’ shot and is back in action. Of course no plan is a good one without that backup plan; enter Dolph Lundgren. The events culminate with a ‘UniSol’ showdown to try save the hostages and stop a detonation at the Chernobyl power plant.‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ did all it intended to do and did it right on the money. From the menace of a stalking ‘UniSol’, having a pseudo horror movie feel to well-choreographed and not too overblown fight scenes--all while keeping me on the edge of my seat. The violence was brutal and unforgiving, showing just how no nonsense and to the point the 'UniSol’s' programming was. Jean-Claude and Dolph could have come across dated and as a sort-of parody, they didn’t. They were used with taste and as a plot device more than a main focus; both were great in this. John Hyams was in complete control here, doing what is lacking in todays action films; give a well-made, straight forward and linear story with a less is more attitude. He focused on making every moment count and added no fluff. I hope to see him make more films, as I see quite a bit of potential in him. The bottom line is--I must admit to really enjoying this movie!!
Rated R for pervasive strong brutal violence and some language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Universal Soldier: Regeneration comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.6 mbps.
This was another gorgeous Blu-ray release from Sony; we are getting spoiled lately! The video on this one, though filmed with a subdued, dull and depressing blue and grayish tone was still a visual stunner. The fine details on the hairs of an arm while getting a hypodermic needle, to drops of blood splatter, were sharp and clear. The colors were natural and almost under-saturated, giving a slight stylized look to the cinematography. Yes it was a little 'dull', but it fit the location perfectly; I wouldn't expect a bright, vivid and cheery looking Chernobyl, you? There was no film grain at all and I assume it was filmed in HD as there was no DNR applied to cover any grain up….this one is sharp as a tack. Blacks were not as dark as I wanted and at times flesh-tones looked a bit washed out with too much contrast. These issues are nit-picking for the most part. The DTS-MA audio track was a dynamic and haunting one. The rapid gunfire reached low and shook the room, ready to startle at a second. The effect channels were used with confidence, always filling the room with bullets and ambient sounds of war. The score was used in contrast to the thunderous rattle of low-end caused by explosions, eerily keeping a relaxed nature…like it was a programed ‘UniSol’, keeping calm as it killed. All dialogue was audible and the mix seemed spot on with my system. Sony’s Blu-ray release of ‘Universal Soldier: Regeneration’ is as close to reference as it gets.
* CIH users should note that the subtitles appear below the picture area *
- Commentary with Director John Hyams and Actor Dolph Lundgren
- (HD) Behind the Lines
- (HD) Visualizing the Stunts
- Movie IQ
A very impressive production for a straight to video release and a modern homage to 80’s action films where pacing, great structure and craft beat out todays 'everything but the kitchen sink’ mentality. Once again Sony does not fail us, delivering a superiorly solid A/V presentation. Unfortunately this release is a bit lacking on the supplements; though there is enough to dig into with an informative commentary track and a nice 20 minute documentary. Highly recommended, fans of action, this franchise and of great quality Blu-ray's should enjoy 'Universal Soldier: Regeneration'.
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Reference Review System:
Anthem LTX 500 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Prismasonic HE1500R Anamorphic Lens
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer