First up we get a full length Audio Commentary from the Director John Hyams, who is joined by none other than actor Dolph Lundgren. Fans, I'm sure, would have loved to have Van Damme on board for this, but perhaps that would have been a bit too much alongside Lundgren. And, arguably, Dolph has the edge when it comes to giving an informative commentary, not least because comprehendible English comes comparatively easier to him, but also because he's recently made a concerted effort to direct his own decent low-budget DTV action films, and can therefore give us a more technically proficient contribution. The two of them give us plenty of insight into how to make a decent, professional, low budget action film, talking about the setting, the stunts, choreographing the fight scenes (Dolph has a few interesting comments about his fight choreographing opposite Stallone for Rocky IV) and delving into some of the characterisation and story development within the franchise.
Behind the Lines Documentary
There is also an 18-minute High Definition Making-Of entitled Behind the Lines which has the Director John Hyams and his father, the Director of Photography, Peter Hyams, along with some of the crew, talking about the production. They discuss the original script ideas (in much greater detail than in the Commentary) and talk about the suspense and horror elements that were thrown into the mix, as well as taking us through some of the finer points of the stuntwork, directorial and location difficulties that they overcome despite the limited budget. Van Damme and Lundgren both pop up to talk about returning to the roles, the fight, and working together once again, and the main MMA stars discuss their contributions, and their combat moments. This is a great little companion-piece for the main feature.
We also get Trailers for a bunch of other releases, including the hilarious-looking Black Dynamite, the all-star Armoured and the sleeper hit Zombieland, as well as The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, The Damned United, The Stepfather, Breaking Bad: Season 2 and Snatch. There's also a Trailer for Universal Soldier: The Return, which gives you an idea of just how wrong they got the first sequel.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration is a good movie, a hidden gem within the mire of straight-to-Blu-ray and Limited release action flicks. It has a solid basic premise - a variation on The Rock - and it tells this story using the style and mood of dark sci-fi thrillers like The Terminator. Reuniting original Universal Soldiers, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, and throwing them into a potent mix of explosive stunts, Call Of Duty-style shootouts and MMA fights, it makes for an extremely engaging little b-movie. Add to that a truly memorable John Carpenter-esque score, solid direction by John Hyams, and some superbly tense cinematography by his dad, noteworthy Director Peter Hyams, and you get a hell of a lot for the tiny $14 Million budget. On Blu-ray we get solid video (Digital advantages and disadvantages notwithstanding) and punchy audio, as well as - surprisingly - a nice couple of extras to give some insight into the production and the franchise in general. Both Van Damme fans and fans of the original Universal Soldier movie should be pleasantly surprised by the quality of this low budget sequel, which follows in the dark and violent footsteps of Stallone's recent Rambo sequel as another respectful hark back to the best of the 80s actioners. Regeneration is a tense, moody and atmospheric sci-fi thriller packed with brutal action, and it comes recommended.
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