Updated 20 Nov 2016
Universal Soldiers: Regeneration (2009, imdb)
Directed by John Hyams
Choreagraphy by Charlie Picerni (Stunt coordinator)? (Borislav Illiev (Stunt coordinator Bulgaria)?)
Direction of Photography by Peter Hyams
This is a film that divides the online proverbial waters. Starring actor Jean-Claude Van Damme and more importantly MMA fighters Andrei Arlovsky and Mike Pyle.
While the movies detractors would have you believe it’s a stupid, under financed and inaccurate (American troops with AK-47 rifles, preposterous!) mess of a movie this is in actuality a landmark action movie in terms of choreography, so special an offering that I have felt the need to pluck it out of the barrel of generalized action dredge and create for it a new nomenclature. This I have chosen to call New Brutal Action although New Fluid Action or even Sensibly Beautiful Action would be more descriptive names for it. I have not yet come to completely define this new sub-genre of quality movies and it’s my hope that the project of this site will assist me in being able to provide a complete definition of New Brutal Action in the fullness of time.
New Brutal Action follows as an extension of trends happening in two separate fields, mixed martial arts fighting and Japanese anime. Trends that are strongly divergent from the modern Hollywood conception of the ideal action movie as a glitzy, polished, CGI encumbered and implausibility ridden affair wherein the one (or ten, whatever) immortal “cool” “hero” massacres all opposition in the most artistically offensive way possible.
So most everyone knows about the simulation-as-reality movie The Matrix (1999), but does everyone know that it drew most of it’s inspiration from the genial anime Ghost in the Shell (1995, AniDB)? While Ghost in the Shell a striking example it is just one among droves where one can observe anime firmly holding the reigns of qualitative action. Among the most well-known anime examples we find the fluid movements and unconventional choreography of Cowboy Bebop (1998-9, AniDB) and even in a touching epic such as Mononoke-hime the action scenes are fluid, inspired and beautiful.
But back to the movie at hand. Regeneration rests on the shoulders of competent (real) martial artists and wonderful choreography, not in trick-filming, shaky camera work, CGI explosions or CGI blue creatures or nothin’.
It also boasts terrific long tracking shots, a Blade Runner reference and Jean-Claude Van Damme on the upswing of his contemporary career, what more could one possibly ask for? Nothing, that’s what.