A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning is the fourth in the Universal Soldier sci-fi action movie series. Violence is extremely strong and over the top, with lots of dripping, spraying, and smeared blood, dead bodies, severed body parts, guns and shooting, and fighting (hand-to-hand, as well as with baseball bats and machetes). Several topless women and a graphic sex act are shown in an adult club. Language includes more than a dozen uses of "f--k," and super soldiers are seen gulping down bottles of whisky. Many fans of the franchise will be disappointed that stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren only have small roles this time around and that the movie is far stranger and moodier than most action movies of its type, but it may appeal to more adventurous moviegoers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
John (Scott Adkins) wakes in the night to find masked intruders in his home. They kill his wife and daughter, and the leader reveals himself as super soldier Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Months later, John comes out of a coma, with his memory fuzzy. He tries to find Deveraux and to figure out what's going on. He meets a mysterious, beautiful woman, Sarah (Mariah Bonner), and keeps encountering a vicious, bearded plumber who tries to kill him. Meanwhile, bad guy Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) appears to be training a new army of unisols. By the time John reaches the final showdown, he'll have discovered some disturbing truths about his past.
Is it any good?
Director John Hyams (son of veteran director Peter) turns in a most peculiar and welcome sequel to the aging UNIVERSAL SOLDIER sci-fi/action franchise. It's as if David Lynch collided with a truckload of martial artists and brawlers, and the resulting explosion created this strange, moody universe, full of odd sound cues; shocking, dreamlike imagery; and less flashy, more vivid fight scenes.
Many longtime fans of the franchise will be disappointed -- and perhaps tune out -- when they realize that Van Damme and Lundgren hardly appear in Day of Reckoning (and never together), but star Adkins makes up for that lack, and the film's surprising and unusual style helps as well. Unlike most action movies, the fight scenes are long, wide, and clear, and every move registers. One climactic fight scene in particular is filmed in a single, long, traveling take. For all audiences that appreciate "something different," here's hoping Hyams continues to provide it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning's violence. Is it meant to be thrilling, shocking, or both? What impact does it have, and how did the filmmakers achieve this?
Are martial artists role models for kids or teens? Does it matter what kind of character they're playing?
What is the movie's stance on revenge? Do you agree with it? Can you think of other movies that have dealt with that subject?
What's the appeal of this long-running sci-fi movie series about artificial super soldiers?
- In theaters: November 30, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: January 22, 2013
- Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins
- Director: John Hyams
- Studios: Magnet Releasing, Magnolia Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: brutal bloody violence throughout, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and language
- Last updated: March 4, 2020
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