Not so much a traditional sequel as a hallucinogenic riff on an entire franchise, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning plays like the fevered fantasy of a die-hard genre fan who requires only the haziest sort of dream logic to connect extended sequences of hand-to-hand, foot-to-ass, machete-to-arm and bullet-to-head combat. more »
In 1992 Jean-Claude Van Damme was sitting in a splits kick astride the world. The former body building champion and genuine full-contact karate knockout artist (19-1, with 18 KO’s) was riding a string of high-kicking lo-fi gems to his first big-budget affair: the unexpected Roland Emmerich sci-fi hit, Universal Soldier. The film’s $102-million worldwide haul caught the attention of major studios, and faster than a jumping wheel kick, a three-picture deal worth a reported $36 million was steadied in front of the Belgium-born ballerino like a pre-cut breakboard. more »
FANTASTIC FEST: Silly, Serious Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning At Least Makes A Star Out Of Scott Adkins
The new Universal Soldier picture, the latest in the series about genetically-modified supermen raging against their government creators, is a curious exercise in cognitive dissonance; here you have an action flick high on gory, bone-crunching slicing and dicing and kicking and punching — everything star and Ben Affleck doppelganger Scott Adkins (Undisputed II and III) can possibly do to evoke oohs and aahs in 3-D in the serious-faced, beefy fashion of his '80s and '90s predecessors — and yet director John Hyams didn't sound completely delusional this week at Fantastic Fest when he said his UniSol fourquel was influenced by David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke, and (yes, I see it, kinda!) even art house provocateur Gaspar Noe.
To even describe The Expendables 2 as a movie seems to do both the medium and this strange, smirking effort a disservice. It isn't a movie — it's more like the world's most expensive, elaborate viral video, making a detour to the big screen before being broken up into more easily consumable segments to be consumed on YouTube.
Some time after turning down a role in 2010’s Expendables (the part he was offered lacked substance, legend has it) Jean-Claude Van Damme thought better of opting out of the Sylvester Stallone throwback, which went onto become a hit. But perhaps things worked out for the best: In this week’s Expendables 2, Van Damme steals away with the spotlight as the eccentric and hilariously disdainful uber-villain Jean Vilain (yes, really) with an over-the-top performance that called for full commitment to character on set.
Everyone knows there are kicks aplenty in the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme muy thai action classic Kickboxer, in which the Muscles from Brussels portrayed an American avenging his brother against a fearsome Thai fighter. But you really get an appreciation for just how many bone-crunching legs and feet and knees were unleashed in the action classic in this brilliantly hilarious, deceptively simple supercut that whittles Kickboxer down to, well, just the kicks. Your Monday must-watch is here.
How does the machismo-filled cast of Expendables 2 entertain themselves in between takes on the Simon West-directed blockbuster sequel? Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis pose for photos in abandoned airplane hangars. Chuck Norris updates his Facebook account with shoddy tourist pics in Bulgaria and Jean-Claude Van Damme, it seems, plays with toy guns.
Earlier today came word that Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme might be joining Sly Stallone & Co. for The Expendables 2 (although the reported cast listing at Millenium Films now reads "TBA"). Now it seems Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis are onboard to reprise their cameos from the first film, with bigger parts this time around. (Expanded Expendables!) So let's just take a minute and regroup: Who isn't onboard or under consideration to join the beefy action sequel?
Having revealed his inner thespian in 2008's JCVD, Belgian martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme wants to be taken more seriously as an actor. Speaking with Box Office Magazine -- ironically, to promote his latest actioner, the hit man thriller Assassination Games (in limited release July 29) -- the Muscles from Brussels cited Clint Eastwood as a career role model: "I love action films, and my fans expect action films, but I can act! And I really want a chance to show what I can do." Note to Jean-Claude: The first step in being taken more seriously? Stop making movies with titles like Assassination Games. [Box Office Magazine]
Last month it was revealed that Sylvester Stallone was looking for a new director to helm the follow up to his $274 million worldwide-grossing action pic, The Expendables -- and Deadline reports that is still the case. Will Sly take Movieline's humble suggestion of five potential replacement directors who'd be well-suited to helm Expendables 2? And which veteran action stars (Seagal! Van Damme! Snipes?) will join the cast this time around? [Deadline]
It's a good week to be an animation fan, what with Rango garnering rave reviews and a new trailer for the Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots hitting the web. (Unless, like me, you caught the Puss in Boots teaser in theaters at midnight in front of the aptly-named Beastly. Not a smart life choice, in retrospect.) But what mystical, family-friendly, Eastern-influenced laughs await us in the new trailer for Kung Fu Panda 2?