Sunday, November 4, 2012

DVD Review - 4 Movie Collection: Universal Solider: The Return/ Knock Off/ The Hard Corps/ Second Command

4 Movie Collection: Universal Solider: The Return/ Knock Off/ The Hard Corps/ Second Command
Directors: Mic Rodgers,
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Running Time: 367 minutes
Rated: R

I grew up watching countless action flicks during my childhood, some off of basic cable and others my parents rented. Since the first Expendables came out, I have been buying a few of the action movies that I watched as a kid, such as Cyborg, Cobra, Commando, Raw Deal, Kickboxer, etc. So naturally I was excited to review this four movie Jean-Claude Van Damme collection, courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment and Tower PR in exchange for an honest review.

Universal Soldier: The Return is set several years after the events that occurred in the first film. Luc Devereaux (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) is no longer a Universal Soldier, but he does run the new advanced program for the government. The new soldiers are stronger and faster. They are controlled by an advanced computer program called S.E.T.H. When the government wants to shutdown the program, S.E.T.H. takes control of building and the soldiers. Luc Devereaux is the only one that can shut down the program, but S.E.T.H. is one step ahead of Luc, as the UniSol Romeo (played by Bill Goldberg) kidnaps Luc's 13-year-old daughter Hillary.

The Universal Solider franchise is hard to follow as The Return ignores the two previous made-for-TV sequels and The Return is ignored by the two newest sequels, Regeneration and Day of Reckoning. The Return's plot is really thin. I'm not for sure why the producers wanted to change the tone and ignore a few facts from the first movie. The acting and dialogue is B-movie quality, but the movie does have some great action scenes, starting with the boat chase in the opening and ending with Van Dame fighting Goldberg. In the end, the movie isn't great, but the action is fun to watch.

Van Damme plays Marcus Ray, a salesman for V SIX jeans, in the 1998's Knock Off, which also stars Rob Schneider as his business partner, Tommy Hendricks. While trying to get away from the CIA, whom is on to their counterfeiting jeans scheme, they get caught up in another scheme as the Russian Mafia is smuggling dangerous weapons into the black market.

Knock Off is one of the worst plotted action movies that I have ever seen. There is no chemistry between Van Damme and Schneider. That being said, there are a few good action scenes that did keep me interested until the end.

The Hard Corps (2006) has Van Damme playing an ex special force solider, Phillip Sauvage, who is hired as a bodyguard to the former World Heavyweight boxing champion, Wayne Barclay. Years before, Wayne had helped the rap mogul Terrell Singletery get sent to prison, but now the rapper is out and he wants revenge.

The Hard Corps is another Van Damme film that I have never heard of before and is less action-packed and more of a thug drama. Besides from Van Damme and Vivica A. Fox, the acting is not great and neither is the direction of the film. The plot is interesting and the action scenes, the few that there are, are entertaining.

Second in Command was released straight to DVD in 2006. The film is set in the Eastern European nation of Moldavia which is in the middle of a civil war. The United States government had help the country set up their own government which is lead by the newly-elected president Yuri Amirev. Communist insurgents, who are dedicated to the former dictator Alexei Kirilov and are lead by Tavarov, start a riot and they plan on taking back the country. Navy Seal Commander Sam Kennan (played by Van Damme) is temporary promoted to deputy ambassador and is assigned to protect Amirev. Chaos erupts and fifty Americans are taken hostage, leaving Kennan as the only one that can stop them.

I've never even heard of this movie until watching it on DVD. The European civil war plot is believable, but some of the political jargon is incorrect. I ignored the plot holes and shaky camera work. The majority of the acting is decent for a direct-to-DVD film and there is a plenty of realistic action to satisfy most of Van Damme fans.

Universal Solider: The Return is in 1.85:1 aspect ratio with English 5.1 audio. Knock Off is in 2:35:1 aspect ratio with English 2.0 audio. Second in Command is in 1:85:1 aspect ratio with English 2.0 audio. The Hard Corps is in 1:85:1 aspect ratio with English 2.0 audio.

This action 4-pack contains two of Van Damme's last theatrical outings in the late 90s and two of his more recent direct-to-DVD low-budget films. These aren't his best movies, but overall I enjoyed watching all four films. 

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