The 90s era for action cinema is never without the mere mention of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 1992 hit, Universal Soldier. Since then and sans the non-canon direct-to-video releases, the film followed up with a trio of box office bombs that have otherwise maintained a cult following for martial arts action fans.
John Hyams took the helm for the recent two: Regeneration (2009) and Day Of Reckoning (2012), both uniting the fandom at festivals abroad with action star fave, Scott Adkins leading the charge. Hyams already has his hands deep in other IP at the moment for anyone wondering what may come of the floundering UniSol franchise, and for this, we have news over at Discussing Film citing The Equalizer scribe Richard Wenk for a re-imagining of Universal Soldier.
“I will say that I’m just finishing up a re-imagining — let’s be clear about this it’s not a remake and it is not a redo — but it is a re-imagining of a movie called ‘Universal Soldier’…very much like ‘The Equalizer,’ it’s the title that inspired me and not the movies…I’m just about to finish (the script) and turn it in this week.”
The case is so often made by fans in lieu of woeful remakes of their favorite films that they don’t want to see them “destroyed” or “ruined”, and so I can see why people in film have taken to change how they word their cases regarding such projects (take Dredd 3D or even Joe Carnahan’s upcoming re-imagining of The Raid other examples). And not for nothing, either, seeing as Dredd made itself a clear cut case as to how awesome revisions can work. Even Blade has the same potential as emphasized in Rossatron’s latest video.
The most recent entry, Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning, may have performed dismally in numbers as did Regeneration. That said, with the aforementioned Hyams at the helm, the films took a deeply-rooted, introspective, psychologically dark and horrific turn in place of more glossier sci-fi tropes, pitting a war-torn Luke Deveraux played by a much stronger-acting Van Damme among talents like Adkins, Jon Foo, theavy-hitting Andrei Arlovski, Adkins, and even his fellow Universal Soldier starring antagonist, Dolph Lundgren.
The characterization is tastefully slow-building at times to a much more engaging and raw affect as are the scope and scale of the action, and with almost horror cinema levels of gore amid select action sequences to amp up the thrill and excitement for moviegoers. You can even see it in the choreography with Van Damme deviating from his once popular grandiose #biglegsandkarate kicking style and immersing into a more CQC-based hand-to-hand fighting method that still keeps the legs and feet handy.
To its credit, Day Of Reckoning, being the last film from Hyams on the UniSol IP, rightfully remains one of the biggest and most celebrated cult successes to this day, and so it’s essentially understandable why some would still see ample material to work with from this particular concept. Topping it all off is the participation of Wenk whose recent work on re-adapting the classic TV series, The Equalizer, has stood impressive in its refurbish with Denzel Washington headlining both 2014 and 2018 installments.
Hyams, who previously directed Van Damme opposite Cung Le in Dragon Eyes (2012) and whose father, John Hyams, helmed at least three films for the former including Timecop, Sudden Death and Enemies Closer spoke to Collider in 2012 regarding plans to hopefully continue with a fifth UniSol entry.
“[M]y idea of where to take the series would be more of paranoid thriller, kind of spy movie genre. Because, there is this whole, and by the conclusion of this one you realize that it’s kind of this Manchurian Candidate meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers type of theme that you could play on.”
Wenk is in partnership with producers Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal at Escape Artists who will produce the film. The expectation is that the new reinstallment will center on a sole soldier compared to previous adaptations.
Enjoy Wenk’s interview below and discuss your thoughts about this update in the comments just beneath.
H/T: The Action Elite