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Dolph Lundgren and John Hyams Dish on 'Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning' (Exclusive)

WHOGOTTHEROLE.COM recently had a chance to sit down with Dolph Lundgren and John Hyams, the star and director of Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning to discuss the new action thriller due out November 21, 2012.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Universal Solider is a four-part movie franchise based on soldiers reanimated from the dead to be near perfect genetically enhanced fighting machines. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning stars the original UniSol’s Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) and Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), along with a newer UniSol John (Scott Adkins).  Director John Hyams took Day of Reckoning in a completely different direction, going beyond reanimating dead soldiers to complete cloning and genetic reengineering of the once dead soldiers. Hyams also utilized an amnesia storyline and focused on John instead of the usual Deveraux and Scott as the center points.

Director John Hyams called Day of Reckoning a “noir type horror thriller, so you’re literally going in to underbelly of society and world,” complete with imagery like “neon and florescent lights […] brothels and strip clubs, at the docks and in meat lockers which all combine to take our character (John) on a descent through hell.” The movie opens with a scene seemingly straight from hell as John watches while his wife and seven-year-old daughter are brutally shot and murdered in their own home by Luc Deveraux. This opening scene sets the tone for an especially sinister movie, with John hungry for vengeance.

Hyam’s wasn’t thrilled on casting a seven-year-old to be killed on camera, however thought it was necessary to the plot line. He admitted, “you write these scenes and it dawns on you that you have to shoot it, we were very concerned about it going right. First thing was casting the right person for it.”  The director elaborated that,  “Audrey Scott is a talented and smart seven-year-old, we knew it from her audition, she got it .” He went on to say that “it’s a little different from her perspective, she’s seeing effects guys crowding down […] she was very cool about it all and it was more of a technical exercise.” Well phew, the LAST thing a director wants is to inflict a lifetime of trauma on a seven-year-old girl for the fourth installment of a mediocre action thriller franchise.

Hyams told us the films’ underlying darkness was motivated by  Jacob’s Ladder, Angel Heart, and Memento. He wanted to create a movie that was “sticky, murky, sweaty darkness […] inspired more by horror and noir than action.” Don’t worry though action fans, if you can make it through the first 2/3rds of the movie, there are some spectacular fight sequences proving Van Damme, Lundgren, and Adkin’s martial arts training has certainly paid off.

Dolph Lundgren can most recently be seen flexing his muscles and showing off his martial arts skills along side Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, and a handful of other action heroes kicking ass in The Expendables 2. Lundgren calls his Expendable’s character, Gunnar Jensen, a grunting, gun toting, drunk Swede, whereas he describes his UniSol character with more introverted depth. Lundgren characterizes Andrew Scott in Day of Reckoning as “not robotic, he has more compassion for fellow soldiers and kind of more human than he was before, for me taking everything a step forward.” Lundgren also mentioned that he did try to “bring in some comedy to a very dark story” and provide “relief from mayhem and murder with more of a light touch.”

Lundgren, a huge part of this movie and the franchise in general, revealed that initially he wasn’t interested in reprising his role as Andrew Scott. Lundgren later conceded that he was too intrigued to say no when he heard Hyam’s original idea for the new movie. Lundgren said, “John came up with a new clever idea making it more of a horror movie, more mysterious and smarter just a different type of movie more evolved and my character was more interesting.”

If Universal Soldier decides to move forward with a fifth installment, don’t hold your breath for Lundgren’s return. At the end of the interview he asks for Andrew Scott to be killed off if the franchise continues. He made the comment in jest, but there was a sense of desperation in his voice.

Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning hits theaters November 21. I strongly recommend seeing the first one beforehand so you have some background on the UniSol’s and perhaps some connection to the characters that will help you make it through Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. 

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