Discover the ultimate cinematographic risks of this unparalleled action classic!
I’m writing the title of this article as an explanation, but it’s more of an argument. I hope someone among all the people reading this proves that this is not true, because we need more movies like Universal Soldier: Payday. The closest I can think of is the Terminator. The cumulative chatter on the internet has gradually opened up to the idea of the Terminator as a ruthless bogeyman chasing after Sarah Connor to punish her for something that hasn’t happened yet, an act that will have epic consequences in the distant future. Horror through Kafka’s filter, physically reflected in the skeletal hardness of a machine with a smile on his head and red LED eyes.
But even Terminator doesn’t have the twisted and ruthlessly hostile view of the world of this fourth and so far last episode of the Universal Soldier franchise. We’re also cheated by marketing. I don’t remember marketing this film when it first came out, but the poster suggests that Devereaux and Scott are the stars of this film. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren actually play supporting characters and have very little shouting. The film is worn on the broad and capable shoulders of Scott Adkins (Boyka Undisputed, Hard Target 2, etc.). In the hands of director John Hyams (son of director Peter Hyams) Universal Soldier undergoes a radical transformation. Retaining the starting point of the resuscitated Vietnam veterans of the war on terror, Hyams and his associates bring to the world a level of mythology and world construction that is both exciting and terrifying. The previous films, Day Of Reckoning and Regeneration, placed the franchise in a Venn diagram of military science fiction and cyberpunk.
What’s so bad about the Universal Soldier? A comeback?
CMAU recalls the day of the judgment
Cinemagoers debate the merits of bold and risky independent films compared to the studios’ predictable products. Payday is an excellent example to support this argument. There are battle scenes that show unbridled violence. Sex scenes, which are usually intended to provide cheap sensations in typical action movies, also contain hidden violence. It is a world in which primary needs are demanded by force, but it takes time. The first minutes of Appreciation Day begin in domestic happiness. A little girl wants her daddy to look for monsters in the house. A satisfied father leaves the comfort of his bed and his beautiful wife to investigate. There’s a few seconds of spatial disorientation until we realize we’re seeing things from Dad’s point of view. It is a camera trick that is rarely used in action movies because it is considered anti-cinematic. From the very first film, Day of Reckoning challenges our assumptions about what making films is all about. John Hyams uses this master plan to overcome the sleepy state of a man who has just woken up and moves from room to room in the house, only to be suddenly plunged into the fright of a burglary. Masked men are standing in the kitchen watching John (Adkins). And now, in John’s eyes, we are helpless as they beat him with crowbars, always enjoying their work, before they take his wife and daughter to the now bloody kitchen to kill them in the manner of an execution.
After this revelation, now that John is recovering from the attack, we take a step back and see that it was Devereaux (JCVD) who committed the attack and the murder, and we know that we were in a very different place than the first Universal Soldier. In the first few minutes of the film we are treated to a daring re-experience that would never have happened if Carolco, the original owner of Universal Soldier’s property rights, hadn’t gone bankrupt. The road to this revitalized universal soldier has not followed a straight line. After Skyvision Entertainment acquired the rights to Carolco’s property, two TV films were born that did not feature JCVD or Dolph. Two movies I haven’t seen, so I’m not gonna go into it here. They were followed by the Universal Soldier: The Return (1999) The path that led to The Return draws parallels with the current schizophrenic state of the film industry with respect to remakes/replicates/ reincarnations. In The Return they make the very questionable decision to make Devereaux a man again, with wife and daughter. I’m not going into the details of resuscitating a corpse from the Vietnam era to the point where it can reproduce, but you see where I’m going with this. Probability has its limits. A resuscitated corpse from the Vietnam era that turns into a super soldier is not more credible, but if you share this idea with big explosions, big guns and desperate action, it passes easier than a corpse with no possibility of suddenly killing a family and being forced to stay alive. It’s a good trick for an action comedy.
Alignment of action movie stars in the film Skin Trade (2014).
Part of the heritage of the universal soldier
Luckily for us, the filmmakers of Regeneration and Day of Reckoning are not aware of everything that has been done on the premises since the first Universal Soldier. Mr. Hyams and his team handle the basic material just as perfectly as the current generation UniSols. This secret army of the dead, kept in frozen coffins and freed from their cryogenic sleep to rob a society that does not value life on the planet, now has a purpose. UniSols embrace their status as outcasts, their superior martial arts, and come together in one spirit and one cause.
But you won’t find out right away. First of all there is a quiet recovery period for John after the invasion and the attack on his house. The calm before the storm. In this period of recovery and grief, John receives a phone call from a friend who suddenly feels the need to tell him everything. As always with blind dates in crime novels, John’s boyfriend is already dead when he contacts him. He leaves a small clue that leads John to a strip club, and from there we follow John into a downward spiral of sleeping cops, with government-funded black book clone and UniSols projects. A journey of self-discovery for John, interrupted by episodes of chaotic violence. The fight scenes in Reckoning are ugly and gross. Passengers are motivated by the basic directive to physically harm each other at terminals. The synopsis and stunts lead us to an action film whose script has been reworked from David Cronenberg’s body horror story. In no time at all, John went from walking with a stick to fighting as skillfully as his attackers. The fingers John lost in the ax battle reappear a few days later, fully functional. His speed, agility and stamina increase to incredible levels, allowing John to eliminate the last group of followers and travel up and down the river to the bunker to confront his personal Heart of Darkness.
Reconditioning day was financially less successful than the first universal soldier, and the same fate befell Regeneration. It could be argued that misleading marketing distracts people from watching the films. By putting the big faces of JCVD and Dolph on posters and then asking Scott to make a small figure that shows his back to the front, even though we saw otherwise, the fans of the franchise could get angry. Showing JCVD, the former hero of the first entry, as the sadistic leader of a clandestine army of genetic monsters whose only fun is to fight and fuck will clearly scare fans who vaguely recall the first. If you had seen Universal Soldier as a child and made JCVD your personal hero pantheon, you would have fought against this current version of Deveraux. With dead eyes and a painted face not resembling that of Colonel Kurtz, Devereux embodies the madness to which his commander (Dolph) succumbs, the same madness that triumphs for some soldiers in prolonged battles.
Scott Adkins’ Top 10 Action Movies
But, how safe is it?
Day of Reckoning is an action film set in the world of an army of attacking psychopaths. We see very few civilians, and they spread quickly when the violence explodes in no time. It is a ruthless world where there is no love of protection, no friendship, no sense of duty that motivates the hero of the standard action movies. What we have here are abandoned heroes, a collection of trained assassins tied together by murderous movements, and their leader is a former hero of this franchise. We live in a world where we can only apply the criteria for effective film performance through a distorted filter. If you don’t remember this criterion, it’s Basic:
Does the structure and tempo of the plot make higher demands on the hero’s skills, forcing him to expand his abilities to both mind and body?
Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! Our hero begins as a neutral who knows nothing of collecting a hidden army. Once he has been ambushed and attacked, his strength, agility and fighting strength increase in proportion to his awareness of what he is involved in. John goes from a passive victim to an active participant and central figure with a personal agenda. That brings us to the secondary criteria:
Does the opponent manage to increase the demands placed on the main character and force him to be more skilful and ingenious?
Absolutely! Devereux and his army drag John into an abyss from which he will not recover for nine months. And in order to keep getting answers to his questions, John must face up to evil, only to discover later that he is capable not only of distracting violence, but also of suppressing it in equal or greater measure. We’re in a situation where we need to redefine what a hero is. John is a hero, just like Mike Hammer is a heavily coded hero, and not much different from Jack Reacher. Times are different, but they all work with a code on paper, perhaps in 1929 with Red Harvest and Operation Continental.
Payday is a cinematographic risk. From the sudden plot twists to the psychotic violence separated from good intentions to the scary score, Reckoning will let you know more. If you have too many action movies from an AI story generator, you should see this movie.
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