universal Solider Day of Reckoning

One of the weirdest action movies of the 2010s is an obscure almost-straight-to-dvd sequel to a little-loved 90s Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren conflagration. There have been five sequels to “Universal Soldier,” and outside of the original, which is mostly notable for being one of the few JCVD movies where our hero does not sport a mullet, I have only seen this one, and its not what you think…

universal Solider Day of ReckoningIt is true I saw this movie on altering substances, probably Tek or Snow Crash (it was a crazy night), but either way it was a grim experience that lingered for days. The best one sentence description would be: David Lynch and David Cronenberg decide to co-direct Philip K. Dick’s “The Bourne Identity,” as adapted by Ingmar Bergman, after a weekend of binge-watching “Last Year at Marienbad” on mushrooms and peyote. Obviously this movie is mandatory for all you knuckleheads.

It is strange that it took so long for the direct-to-dvd action genre, with its limited budgets and limited revenue potential, to turn out something this experimental and pretentious. And yet here we are presented with artist John Hyams, son of 80s b-giant Peter Hyams (he of “2010: The Year We Make Contact” and “The Relic” fame), who through some twisted genius and ambition decided to make a pulp horror film with nigh-unrivaled action sequences for our on-demand age.

Although JCVD and Dolph get top billing, the main character is Australian upstart Scott Adkins. Scott wakes from a sleep to witness his family slaughtered and his brains beat in. Did I mention that this sequence is filmed in the first-person perspective? Did I mention the seizure-inducing strobes? Scott emerges from a coma and decides to avenge his universal Solider Day of Reckoningfamily, descending into a Hieronymus Bosch netherworld governed by a psychotic Dolph Lundgren and some kind of Bizarro Van Damme from Hell. Both heroes have never been more deranged, perhaps because in spite of their top billing they obviously spent 2 hours filming their scenes before cashing out and rolling over for brunch at Spago.

This movie has visceral action. This is not the place for wimpy dance-fighting where actors flutter like delightful sprites while barely grazing each other with soft slaps. The fight scene in the sporting goods store must be seen to be believed.

The Lessons from “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning”:

-Are you an automaton or do you have free will?
-Is religion the path to truth or the means of control?
-Is the ideal goal of humanity an Übermensch or “die Letzte Mensch”? And if I am a “last man” what is so wrong with that, sometimes it gets cold and I like to cuddle in a quilt with my dog and watch Point Break, and who cares what some syphilitic German thinks about that anyway?
-What is even going on in this movie?

roadside attractions

  • Pretentious art films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
  • Dolph Lundgren, Renaissance Man
  • Kabuki warpaint
  • Baseball bat swordfights
  • Nausea
  • Strobelights
  • Incoherent non-linear narrative




Um. Don’t worry about that.




Yeah, that happens, but I didn’t feel very clean about it.




Jean Claude Van Damme as Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Bald, insane, babbling, sweaty. Also, whoever that dude with the beard is, he is pretty awesome


Check out the trailer for “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoninge”