After enjoying the hell out of the fourth installment in this resurrected franchise, Day of Reckoning, I was advised to check out the previous chapter. Also directed by John Hyams, son of Outland/Timecop director Peter Hyams, this is the story of a terrorist group who kidnap the Russian president’s children and rig the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to explode. They do this with the help of a stolen next generation super soldier, NGU (Andrei “The Pit-Bull” Arlovski), leaving the CIA little choice but to retrieve and reprogramme UniSol Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme). Hyams ditches the goofy tone of the first film for a bleak, deadpan aesthetic and moodier tone, keeping the focus on stunts, fights and intensity, rather than nuanced characterisation. Dolph Lundgren’s rival UniSol is crobarred back into the story, but it’s difficult to ally yourselves with any particular character as they remain a soulless, dead-eyed bunch throughout. The results are respectable for a relatively low budget sequel, but the best is yet to come in this particular franchise.