If ‘JCVD’ was Van Damme’s comeback film ala ‘ROCKY BALBOA’, than this bloody, extremely violent and frequently exciting sequel is his ‘RAMBO’. This third film in the series comes a full 18 years after the original, and 11 years since the cartoonish second entry 1999’S ‘UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN’. The filmmakers have (wisely) chosen to ignore the events of the first sequel, treating this as a bookend to the original. Pic starts out with a great chase sequence that instantly reveals the level of professionalism involved with the project (budget estimated at $14 mil). Ultimately that’s what sets this apart from most films in the genre. Peter Hyams (no stranger to Van Damme films, and working as cinematographer here for his son, director John Hyams) gives the film a ‘cinematic’ weight. Although, his visual motif of over and under exposing illustrates the advantages and limitations of shooting on HD. MMA star Andrei ‘The PitBull’ Arlovski making his film debut; is appropriately menacing and required to say very little (maybe 12 words). Sporting a few more creases than they were back in 1992, Lundgren and Van Damme return as the first generation of super soldiers. Unfortunately, neither enters the action until almost 40 minutes in. Jean-Claude is just ok, but he’s only given two notes to play, depressed and crazed. Honestly he looks bored and maybe after the critical acclaim of ‘JCVD’, he has a right to be. Lundgren on the other hand injects his character with a sense of mischief, which is welcomed. He steals every scene. If there were an OSCAR nomination for best supporting actor in a B-movie, Lundgren would be a shoo-in. He’s that fun to watch.
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