Posted tagged ‘Vietnam War’

Universal Soldier: Regeneration – Movie Review

March 9, 2010

Based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

OK, let’s get one thing straight – Jean Claude Van Damme is my absolute favorite actor on the face of the planet. From kickboxing to bloodsporting, no one man has lit up the silver screen in the same way this Belgian waffle has lit up my life. While his 80s action contemporaries succumbed to making family fare, films with a message or other trivial pursuits like politics and policework, Van Damme has spent his 20-year reign on top giving his fans exactly what we want – crotch-punching, split-kicking, sassy female reporter-swooning feature-length absurdity. Following the inspiration of a fantastic Van Damme article from the prophet Seanbaby, last year I took it upon myself to launch Van Damme Nation, a series of bi-weekly parties in New York City that saw us eventually watching every frame of celluloid ever filmed of the man’s work including his Emmy-not-nominated appearance on “Friends.” As a result, I’ve groomed myself to have somewhat of a PhD in JCVD. With my phone ringing off the hook and my email box flooded with queries of “Chaz, how is the new Van Damme movie?” I finally have the timecop to sit down and tell you that, van sadly, Universal Soldier: Regeneration sucks.

“But Chaz” you ask, and I say “what?” and you say “how could a movie in 2010 starring Van Damme be so awful?” Well, to be Jean Claude Van frank, there just isn’t Van Damme near enough of the man in the movie. Of course, with this being an entry in the Universal Solider franchise, I shouldn’t be that surprised. The first Universal Soldier, shot back in the glorious year of 1991, stands one of Van Damme’s 3 1/2 intentionally entertaining films. With a monologue-loving nemesis in the always entertaining Chemical Engineer Dolph Lundgren*, this film about cyborg super-soldiers made from harvested corpses of casualties of the Vietnam war searching for humanity went on to be Van Damme’s biggest success. The film’s producers would like you to believe that Van Damme’s character Luc Deveraux re-emerging, after being implanted with a microchip that produces comedic quips, to fight Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Toxic Avenger Part II) and professional wrestler Bill Goldberg in 1999’s Universal Soldier: The Return was the next chapter in the story, but that’s because they’re chronic liars. Yes, Universal Soldier 2: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier 3: Unfinished Business starring Burt Reynolds, Gary Busey and former President Andrew Jackson do exist, but since they don’t contain any Van Damage, they don’t. By that same logic Regeneration isn’t Universal Solider 3 but Universal Soldier 2 1/2.

Van Damme plays Chaz Kangas in the movie based on me watching this movie.

Instead of Van Damme or Lundgren, we’re treated to 80 minutes of MMA Fighter Andrei ‘The Pitbull’ Arlovski. For the unaware, “MMA Fighter” is a film term for “unwatchably bland.” While he does bring plenty of inverted heel-hook leglocks and Arm-in Guillotine headlocks to the fight scenes, these are all things nobody wants to see in a cyborg zombie-soldier movie. I can understand the potential appeal had it been footage of the man in actual athletic competition, but when we’re expecting head-explosions, crotch pummeling and broken English, it’s just plain boring. Arlovski plays the key weapon of a Russian terrorist group who’ve kidnapped the Prime Minister’s family threatening to nuke (or, perhaps re-nuke) Chernobyl unless their associates are released. Switzerland (yes, the neutral country) decides to *regenerate* Van Damme to stop the bomb. Yet a Swiss renegade doctor wants to go one step further and kill the terrorists, so he *regenerates* Dolph Lundgren to butcher them. A midst this, Russia sends in a standard solider to rescue the kids, played by another “MMA fighter” (unfortunately) named Myle Pyle, a John Cena lookalike with 1/12th of his talent. John Scenic does some criminally boring fighting too, keeping things soldiering on in a universally lame manner.

Van Damme looks as bored in the film as we are, so when we get the climactic 20-minute (!) non-stop Van-Dolph fight scene, we’re just too disengaged to care. This is a plodding, drab soiled raincoat of a motion picture. It seems all director John Hyams (son of frequent Van-Conspirator Peter Hyams) aimed to do with this film is make us believe that “MMA Fighters” have the on-screen talent of professional wrestlers. They don’t, and if you’ve ever seen Thunder in Paradise you know what an incredibly mean thing that is to say. It’s bad. Van bad. A Van disappointment. This franchise will likely see a sudden death as any further replicants will seem like just another knock off. While a good time with Van Damme shouldn’t be a hard target, any quest ending with this death warrant of a movie runs the maximum risk of having nowhere to run for entertainment in Hell.

We give Universal Soldier: Regeneration a 2 out of 5.

BONUS BEAT – Dolph Lundgren sings Elvis, plays drums and breaks ice –

Until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*No, seriously.


February 8, 2010

Hey Mr. Post-Modern!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m an MC or “rapper.” Being a rapper, I do rap things such as rhyme over a beat, keep rhythm, move the crowd, cold rock a party etc. However, there are plenty of rap things I don’t do such as watch the movie Scarface every weekend, wear clothing covered with images from the movie Scarface, take a time machine to a 1998 Sam Goody location and purchase every single one of their posters from the movie Scarface, etc. These differences are slight and while they don’t define me or those that do, I bring them up cause who I’m talkin’ about y’all, is Hip-Hop to make the point that we are aware certain practices are prevalent but some of us just don’t do them.

That ain't me, babe.

Case in point – internet spamming. While some are super fearful of Jay-Z’s rumored illuminati ties, non-reptilian rappers have proven time and time again that they can be just as dangerous annoying on their own. Look at how it took a nation of nobodies to ruin MySpace. Scary, eh? While the internet is a necessary and awesome evil that we have to use in order to keep the wheels on our career-mobile rollin’, I think the blog/Facebook event with one or two reminders/email list/Twitter sequence or any combination thereof is sufficient. But even then, they should be practiced with extreme moderation. I keep two* active email addresses, one for my personal life and one for the rap world that I give out on those ‘please sign my spam list’ or ‘let’s collaborate’ opportunities. I really don’t mind when they hit the latter, as that’s the reason I set-up that account, but believe my surprise when THIS ended up in the former. NOTE: This is a complete copy-pasta exactly how it appeared in my electronic mail box:

Rai Knight – Mr. Postman – (feat. Oseeola)

Free MP3
In our lives, there are times, where what we want to say are just to hard to say. Mostly, we find those times when we are deeply in love and fear that are sentiments are not shared, sometimes it is much easier to put it on paper! Soldiers overseas, their spouses, in many cases, can only communicate via letter and with love there are never enough words to say how you truly feel, but to say some

thing is better than saying nothing.

In “Mr. Postman” Rai Knight and Oseeola take the opportunity to thank whatever medium which allows itself to be the carrier of “I love you”; facebook, twitter, or mail. The story is simple, sometimes we just all to need to know how much we are cared for. Simply, just say it!

Wow. My initial reaction was along the lines of “how the H*ll did this get sent out to presumably thousands of emails, most likely from a paid email blast company, without some semblance of a spell check?” I closed the email, took a shower, played some Rock Band, microwaved some leftover Taco Bell** and couldn’t shake that text out of my head. As someone who reads dozen of press releases a day and writes tens of them a year, how on Urth did that get green-lit?

Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I began googling every person in the email, each name pointed back to the same “release” until I stumbled on the first site that featured it right here:

What the H*ll is this? The fluxuating-minimalist production, absurd stream-of-conscious lyrics (“I would be your Huckleberry / I would be your Merrie Melody too”) and genuine weirdness is only emphasized by how professional it sounds. I can’t tell if I like the song or not, but it is an oddly effective snapshot of modern internet-based flirtation. The “PS” at the end of the second verse gives the whole song a weird full-circle vibe, as if it’s the Bratz doll b-side to the spectacular Google Super Bowl ad.

It took six listens for me to realize how much more effective and memorable this atrocious press release was than a forgettable passable one. I’ve given this song that I can’t even determine my opinion on (that is starting to grow on me) from someone I’ve never heard before a much more intent listen than anything else in quite some time. Rai Knight, I raise my glass to you. Thank you for giving me a lemon that I’ve turned into a Tim O’Brien Lemon Tree.

We give this SPAM a Five Out of Five

Until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*RE: OK, five. I have five email accounts. You happy?

**When I refer to “livin’ the life,” I usually mean this.