» Kickassualties of War
A few years before 's Universal Soldier: Regeneration, the idea of .. movies like Outland, Running Scared, Stay Tuned, and End Of Days. Buy Universal Soldier: Regeneration on Blu-ray . Additionally, the low end rumbles with regularity, whether under heavy vehicles or. The birth, death and regeneration of the Universal Soldier movies Somehow, the Universal Soldier rights ended up with Canadian production .. who is slowly learning that there's far more to his connection to Deveraux than meets the eye.
Spoiler alerts apply from here on out. John wakes up after nine months in a coma. Unable to remember anything about his life prior to the night of the murders, he goes in search of answers, and revenge. He was a UniSol all along! Ultimately, your preference will depend on how much narrative coherence and realism you feel entitled to demand from a movie about reanimated Vietnam War vets punching people to death.
What I would love is to have my body dropped where you have those big icebergs and the water is so cold and pure, to be eaten by a polar bear or a seal or an otter. There was also the gram-a-day cocaine habit, the bipolar-disorder diagnosis, the spousal-abuse allegations in his divorce from a former Hawaiian Tropic model, the strip-club fistfight with ex—Hells Angel and Howard Stern Show barnacle Chuck Zito, and enough bad movies to max out a landfill.
You win, I lose. The tiger in a cage. I asked for it. I asked for it, really believed in it. Well, it came true for me. But I still ask myself today: What have I done on this earth? Then, on the eve of its U. Day of Reckoning the Van Damme movie we were promised, the one he feels he owed us? And I find myself suddenly wishing the best for Van Damme.
I hope he finds work worthy of his ambition, as should we all. Van Damme, a karate champion and former Mr. Belgium, left Brussels at 20 and moved to Hollywood, determined to be a movie star.
He waited tables, bounced, drove a cab, taught aerobics, delivered pizza, and laid carpet. He was the first actor cast as the monster in Predator, but left the project under mysterious circumstances.
His big break came inwhen he spotted schlock-action mogul Menahem Golan outside a restaurant in Hollywood. You can make so much money with me, you can make me a star. In Day of Reckoning, I only used slow-motion during action when we were in the underground compound.
We never used it in the sporting goods store or during the car chase or any of those things and the reason I used it down there was that the whole point of this movie was subjective perspective and how there's a lot of things happening to our protagonist in the movie testing his grasp of reality, what's real, what's a hallucination. The movie and the story is moving almost more toward to this surreal, primal place.
I wanted everything that happened under there to exist almost in a different time space, almost like you're under water. So, that was the idea. The fact that we would use slow-motion more on impact rather than the throwing of a punch or the throwing of a kick was really because you're trying to intensify the impact.
Universal Soldier Regeneration*DVD*DOLPH LUNDGREN*JEAN-CLEAUDE VAN DAMME*ACTION | eBay
If I slow down a punch, then I'm kind of taking away the visceral impact. If you show something happening at high speed and then quickly over-crank it to the result slowed down, the contrast between the fast and the slow on a very basic level can intensify the impact in an interesting way. I prefer to slow the consequences down like you said. I know there's a moment in Day of Reckoning where Scott kicks a guy in the head and he actually kicks that guy in the head.
We thought let's see how fast that kick looked and let's see the impact as it occurred. It becomes a formal exercise. That's what editing is about.
You're adjusting the momentum of things in an attempt to create a visceral impact for the viewer. Do you like editing your own movies? I've gotten into the habit of it because of the documentaries. Editing a documentary is in the name of economics. We couldn't afford to keep an editor for as long as we'd edit those movies. We edited The Smashing Machine for a year and a half and had co-editors from time to time, but we could never afford to keep ourselves on the payroll and pay someone else, too.
What I came to find after doing that, spending enough hours doing it, is that I started out in fine arts in painting and sculpture. Let's just say my creative process or my ability to activate my creative process was simply going to the studio and being by myself. It was a solitary endeavor, kind of like writing is or composing music is and once you get into film, part of the reason you get into it is because of collaboration.
You're excited by collaboration and you realize that if you are utilizing your talents and the talents of other people. You can create even more amazing things than you could by yourself. The idea of engaging with people who have talents that you don't and collaborate is what film is all about.
Not to compare it to war, but [production] is like playing a football game with a bunch of people. It's a large squad racing against the clock. So when you get to the editing room, that's the closest I can get to being myself in a painting studio and manipulating the medium.
If it's a painting studio, you're mixing paint and applying it to a canvas and seeing how they look. That process, for me, is always a lot of trial and error, but mostly error. You make the wrong decision over and over again to try and explore every avenue until you stumble upon the right one. It's a bunch of failure until it finally culminates into something that starts to work.
If I could just sit there and manipulate the material, I could come up with something that is the result of trying lots of different things out. It ends up becoming this solitary experience that has been born out of six or eight months time where you literally talk to hundreds of people over the course of every day.
To me, it's become my process to sit and manipulate the material to see what I can come up with rather than having all the answers before I go in. Now there's far more talented filmmakers than me who can easily work with editors. I'm sure one day I'll have the opportunity to work with an editor that will make me realize I can do a lot better than just on my own.
When that day comes, I'll gladly welcome it. It's not really a pride or ego thing, but I'll certainly work with an editor. Scott has actually had two previous on screen fights with Jean-Claude and obviously never survived either of them with other directors.
There is a very real thing that you never think about, but when you do think about it it makes a lot of sense that people who have made their living off of being action stars and made their living having fights on screen, there is, in the same way as pro wrestling, you can't just have when someone loses.
There's a narrative reason why someone is losing. You start to realize that Chuck Norris started his career losing to Bruce Lee and at a certain point he starts to win fights on screen. I don't know if you can even think of Arnold Schwarzenegger losing an onscreen fight.
This has become something that these guys have to protect, it's their reputation. It's going to exist forever. They're not going to go into it lightly. If they are going to lose, then there's got to be a really good reason for it. In the case of this movie, this movie was designed around and necessitated that his character not only lose, but be killed. In essence, him losing the fight is almost an offensive move, kind of like the Obi Wan Kenobi move.
By Luc relenting and basically sacrificing himself as an offensive move against his enemy, which isn't John, it's the government, he's deciding he's going to unleash this guy's wrath upon you. However, if that wasn't the case, I don't know how interested he would have been in doing this.
It ultimately becomes something symbolic that can be interpreted as an action star also saying they're being replaced professionally. There is a lot that goes into it. If you have a guy like Andrei Arlovsky who hasn't been in very many movies, he's not going to have a problem losing a fight to Jean-Claude in Regeneration or Scott Adkins in Day of Reckoning because he's got to pay his cinematic dues.
This is different if you're Sean Penn. If you're Sean Penn, you can do a movie and lose a fight, your livelihood isn't really based on your onscreen record. Guys like Segal, Jean-Claude and Schwarzenegger, for better or worse, it's their cinematic identity. I'm sure he'll basically decide whether or not that's going to happen. That's really just part of what it takes to be an action star, creating a reputation through the illusion of your onscreen fight record.
It's not until you go through the process of working with performers that you start realizing how ever much you think is at stake directing this movie, in their minds there's far more at stake for them because they're the ones in front of the camera. They're the ones who are going to exist forever doing them whatever you ask them to do. It's a huge amount of trust they're putting in you to A not make them look foolish and B not do something that is going to damage their career in some way.
I was taken aback by your answer in that other interview because I feel like most people associate that mentality with women, specifically beautiful starlets who go from playing ingenues to playing mothers or even grandmothers at the end of their career. They make a living off of their looks and it's usually thought of that way actresses, not for actors. That's a perfect analogy. How has your interest in MMA influenced your fight choreography and staging? I was never an expert in MMA before doing that and it wasn't until I did that and gained an appreciation for the sport and got to know some people who are athletes in the sport and suddenly, I had a personal stake in the events.
Like I said, from doing The Smashing Machine, once you've witnessed a real fight by highly skilled individuals up close and you really see what a fight looks like and sounds like like and what the aftermath is, it's hard to go into doing fight scenes after that without realizing, kind of like what I talked about in that earlier question, if you're not in any way presenting violence as consequential, then you're sort of ignoring what reality has showed and to me, a fight while it can be like a dance, like you say, and be beautiful in its flow of movement.
Hong Kong cinema is very much like a choreographed dance. When you watch Jackie Chan, it's like watching Buster Keaton.
That's very complex choreography, it's not about the consequences of violence, it's about creating kinetic, almost comedic choreographed routines. To me, in the context of the movies I've been making, I'm far more interested in presenting something violent in a fight as if it is something you want to get out of the way of.
It's important to not only try and shoot it in a way that puts that forward, but also have the sound and music that accompany it not take away from the power of what is going on. Like I say, when you have stood ringside at a heavy weight battle, whether it's a boxing match or a MMA event, it's really humbling to see the power and force of what is going on when two heavy weight fighters are both keying off on each other. In The Smashing Machine, in the fights in Japan, the crowd doesn't make any noise.
That has to be tough on the fighters. They will cheer a moment. When the bell rings, it's dead silent. You can hear a pin drop, even in the Tokyo Dome. You can hear the sound of their bare feet brushing across the canvas, you can hear every punch. That was something we really tried to replicate in the sound design of that movie. It's really the most unnerving thing. It's one thing to have a bunch of people screaming while two guys fight, it's another thing to just be hearing it.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration () - IMDb
It's hard for me to present a fight as anything other than an incredibly intense engagement between two individuals. Sometimes movies have a habit of taking the power away from fights, whether it's people punching each other over and over again and you don't even have a nose bleed to using sounds that are kind of redundant and you hear the same sound over and over again and it's like two people punching each other and there seems to be no consequence.
When you see a fight where every punch leaves a mark, which we try to do with these movies, we really try to account for all these blows from a fight perspective. You actually see the intense brutality of it. That reminds me of Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance where in the beginning of the movies, he's wearing the clean white tank tops and by the end, he's just drenched in dirt and blood from all the action activity.
We couldn't help but think of John McClane when we had him in the white tank top. That's what's great about John McClane and that's what's great about Die Hard, especially the first one, is that he bleeds. He's a very vulnerable hero.
He's not the most powerful guy, he's a scrapper. His feet are bleeding, his face is bleeding, he looks like hell.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) Review
Those are things to take into consideration. There are guys who always want to be presented as always being heroic throughout their onscreen battles and they don't want to look like the other guy's hurting him too much, but you realize that you are able to manufacture empathy if you show that character as being vulnerable, as being hurt.
Were you affected by the Southern gothic feel of the environment? Did it aid the storytelling? In the case of both of those movies, we knew we were shooting it down there before really the movies were even completely written.
To me, in both those cases, the wise move is to use the environment to its advantages and to its strengths.
Dragon Eyes was designed from the get-go to take place there, it was written to be set there, and the setting was just part of the whole idea. The ghetto was a stand-in for a western setting. In Day of Reckoning, the mood is very much about a kind of gothic, noir environment, but the fact that this environment, what was important to me was that the move and story starts in a very innocuous, ordinary type of surrounding and slowly digress into a more primitive setting, that by the end, we're actually underground.
It moves not only into lush, wooded areas, but also swampy jungle areas. While Day of Reckoning isn't supposed to take place in any specific place, it's supposed to be an anonymous American city.
Dealing with that kind of climate and that kind of topography influenced us, for sure. We're experiencing this movie through the eyes of John, the protagonist, and he is living in almost what is like a construction of reality. His home isn't a real home, it's essentially a set that's been created for him. You want to create this very indistinctive environment that is almost devoid of character.
In Day of Reckoning, you use a very visceral strobing effect to illustrate the physical and mental state of the soldiers once they've been freed from government control. These scenes are immediately followed up with either violent acts Adkins attacking Arlovski in the strip club or the repercussions of violence Arlovski literally having blood on his hands after the hotel shootout.
What were you trying to achieve with this effect? The effect quite simply was trying to find the most direct cinematic representation of hypnosis. Again, those scenes are shot subjectively as in these are characters looking directly to camera and we are seeing their POV. The idea of light and the idea of strobing, which has given us more angry customers than anything else in the movie, but to me, I find it to be very effective.
It's one of the few times, if not the only time, where I've been able to achieve the pure subjective experience of the movie, where the viewer is experiencing something close to what the character is experiencing. Should it be like ? The sound design is doing more than half the battle there.
Cung Le in Dragon Eyes. You shot Dragon Eyes and Day of Reckoning almost back to back. What was that experience like?
How was shooting Dragon Eyes different than shooting Day of Reckoning? It's produced by the same producer and it was a movie they had that was ready to go. In order for me to continue to develop Universal Soldier and be employed, directing Dragon Eyes was the perfect way to do that. When I met with Cung Le and immediately had a great feeling for him, I wanted to help him bring his vision to the screen.
I thought here's the opportunity to do something that's very different from the Universal Soldier movies, something where I'm stepping in with very little preparation, very little shooting time and take what exists and strip it down as much as possible, so that it becomes an almost abstract formal exercise in many ways. Taking something that is a very familiar story in a familiar genre and presenting it as if it were literally a graphic novel with bright kind of primary colors and very two-dimensional and graphic by nature.
It called for a high degree of stylization. In doing that, I was able to experiment with things that I was thinking about using in Universal Soldier in different ways. I think again, the strobing effect, and the effect of shooting in high speed and manipulating in high speed, the sound design ideas, were done in Dragon Eyes as formal exercises that became more fully realized in Universal Soldier.
The color correction in Dragon Eyes almost reminds me of silent film tints. The idea color palette wise was to make the colors very desaturated and very monochromatic.
In my mind, it's more of a graphic novel thought. Graphic novels tend to be very washed out in color, there tends to be one dominant color in any series of frames. I thought that was a good way to let people know what we were not explaining through dialogue since we're drifting through time in a very elliptical structure. The bad ass shoot out in the brothel in Day of Reckoning is unlike anything else in the movie.
Can you talk about how you shot that? The vibrant colors purple seems to very prominentsmutty neon lights and overall textures especially Dolph Lundgren's Ken Doll-like hair are palpable almost to the point of surrealism.
Everything is so moist.
Dolph Lundgren in the brothel. We're trying to take you into this very surreal type of hell on earth environment where you witness this kind of massacre. What we're doing immediately after being in Scott Adkins house, the scene previous to that where he is experiencing memories of his family. The movie for a while has dual narratives that connect, the dual narratives being Scott Adkins character, John, going through his self discovery and the character of Magnus the plumber, Andrei Arlovsky, who is clearly a government agent who has now been flipped into the underground cult militia led by Deveraux.
That's a very surreal world, the world that is a figment of these creatures imaginations. If you're literally taking a species of humans that have been created for one thing—to be killers—and now they've been liberated, now they're experiencing free will, what will their free will lead them toward? Our thought was because that they are creatures that have been created with a void in their soul.
They have no history. Their memories are spotty at best. They have no childhoods, they don't have all the things that make us human. Therefore, they would kind of have this insatiable appetite and hunger, this void that they needed to fill.
Once they're no longer enslaved, they would be filling that void with the kinds of things humans fill their voids with, only to a more extreme degree.
They would be filling it with alcohol, deviant sexual appetites, trying to satisfy their urges, but never being able to satisfy the urge. Ultimately, what they've created is this personal hell on earth for themselves where they sit around and drink away their futures.
They're left very flawed and unsatisfied, so they're going to have to satisfy that, but they're not going to be able to. So, that was the idea behind creating this environment. It has a very garish color palette, a very moist underbelly environment, classic tempered noir feel. The whole concept of putting these dark, sweaty, swarthy creatures in this claustrophobic hallway and then have one guy come in and be massacring the lot of them and that when he reaches the end of the hallway, there's Dolph Lundgren waiting for him with perfectly combed white, white hair and a nice button down collared shirt.
The contrast he would be present there is a beam of evangelical light at the end of this dark tunnel. It just seemed like visually and thematically it presented an appropriate way to deal with the scene. I think Dolph would be a pretty great religious leader. I might be inclined to join his religion. If he wanted to, he would do well.
I think it's playing into certain obvious cinema archetypes, there's western archetypes that it plays into. The rules of machismo are played out cinematically, that's how we learned those rules. All things in the original script were far more explained, we decided to strip out all the discussion of these things and have it play out visually.
How has your background in painting and sculpture influenced your cinematic creative process?