Dolph Lundgren in "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning." (Courtesy of Magnet Releasing )
Depending on how you count, "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning" is either the fourth or sixth entry in the lumbering action franchise — as there were two films made without signature soldiers Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
This time out, in an entry directed and co-written by John Hyams, the marquee pair do appear, though with likely less than 20 minutes screen time between them. Rather, the main action focuses on a character played by Scott Adkins, who watches in the opening sequence as his wife and young daughter are murdered.
The rest of the film follows him as he tries to track down the killers while making startling discoveries about himself and a government program of genetically modified soldiers with implanted memories.
A long fight sequence in a sporting goods store just keeps on going with a relentless, unflinching brutality and includes some of the loudest, most emotional grunting this side of women's championship tennis.
Just through general downer mojo and heavy use of some serious strobe effects, the movie creates something of the sensation of huffing industrial solvents — in a good way! — a waking-sleep zombification that can't exactly be described as pleasurable but definitely has an odd, distinct power.
"Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning." MPAA rating: R for bloody violence throughout, strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes. At the Chinese 6, Hollywood.