Action Movie Fanatix Review: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Universal Soldier Day of Reckoning banner

Under Their Own Command

Starring: Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski, Kristopher Van Varenberg, Roy Jones Jr., Wes Shivers

Director: John Hyams

2012  |  113 Minutes  |  Rated R

“We are brothers.  We are one.” – Luc Deveraux

When I heard that John Hyams was going to be directing another Universal Soldier I was pumped.  I thoroughly enjoyed Universal Soldier: Regeneration and looked forward to yet another fresh take on the franchise.  I was NOT disappointed.

John’s (Scott Adkins) wife and daughter are killed in a home invasion that leaves John in a coma.  When he awakes he sets out on a mission to track down the man responsible, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme).

Wow… This was not quite what I was expecting.  This made Regeneration look like My Little Pony.  Day of Reckoning took the Universal Soldier concept and turned it on its head.  It went from pure action to something bizarre and horrifying and yet still extremely exciting.

This ain’t for the kiddies.  I mean, we’re talking full swinging black dong in the first 20 minutes.  And of course the blood is free flowing.  The violence is actually even a little shocking for this long time action fan.

The first 30 minutes or so are a little slow.  Not boring but just a little slow.  Of course this only helps to build the tension and fear leading up to when, it seems, John realizes that he is more than just a victim… he is a real badass.

Scott Adkins was a great choice to join the series.  Every action fan by now knows this guy is the real deal in a fight and now he is proving he is gaining some real acting chops as well.

Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski is in serious need of more action villain roles.  He pulls it off perfectly.  Obviously his martial arts are solid but real martial arts skills don’t always translate perfectly to film and what he has done in the past two Universal Soldier movies is up there with the best of the best.  The “Heeeerreee’s Andrei!” moment early on is classic and the sporting goods store scene… holy crap, you just have to see it.

Of course we have the returning Universal Soldier veterans Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren.  Van Damme’s role is something completely different from anything I have seen him do before.  He is downright scary.  Dolph Lundgren is able to get a slight amount of his humor in before he and Adkins go to war.

Good God!!!  Scott Adkins gets into three big time fights.  First he takes on Andrei Arlovski in an awesome, awesome sporting goods store brawl.  Then comes Dolph after blowing through too many soldiers to count.  Then the brutal mano-a-mano beatdown between Adkins and JCVD.  Each battle is on the top of my most brutal action movie fights of all time list (yes, I have one).

I have a huge amount of respect for John Hyams after watching this.  I already respected him but Day of Reckoning brought it to a whole new level.  With this he truly created something unique, something I didn’t feel like I had seen before.  Something beautifully shot yet visceral and disturbing.

I can’t express how much I really loved Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.  I literally watched it a second time immediately after my first viewing ended.  I would have to think really hard about it but this is right up there with my favorite movies of the past year and it might just be number one.

2 thoughts on “Action Movie Fanatix Review: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

  1. Nice review dude. I for one was extremely disappointed with this film. It was NOT what i was expecting at all. I realize the film has a tremendous following but I never understood it.

    The action is very dirty and gritty, and are among the highlights of the film. They are fast, brutal, and intense. Something that is rare in today’s action films.

    My problems are a plenty. Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are the two men you want to see in this film, and again take a back seat. I want to see a film that has them in the starring role. How does this not piss off the majority of fans?

    The tone, although different was all over the place. It was more horror than anything, and the drill scene just made me uncomfortable. I don’t think it was necessary to be that graphic.

    The strobe light!! Agh,…..Why? This hindered my viewing experience.

    There was no fun factor at all, and you felt dreary and depressed the whole film. Again, I know people like the film, but I will stick with the original film. Just my opinion.

    • You bring up a lot of good points but I obviously don’t agree with much of it.

      I loved the action. LOVED IT! Like you said, it was gritty and violent and that is a big part of what I loved about it. Plus the fights were really creative.

      Van Damme & Lundgren being lesser parts of the movie didn’t bother me as much. The movie was about Scott Adkins and I love me some Scott Adkins.

      The strobe light did get to me a bit too. I understood its use but it was probably a bit much.

      And you are right. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning isn’t “fun” in the traditional action movie sense. It is a little depressing and definitely very dark. It probably isn’t for everyone but it is definitely for me. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the differing opinions.

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