Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day)fortunately brings some crackle to this otherwise unexciting sci-fi drama about two once-dead, biologically-regenerated soldiers (Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren) who tur... more »n against one another when Van Damme's character has memories of his previous life. Emmerich is typically only as good as his scripts, and this one is pretty flat. The two stars do exactly what you'd expect them to do and nothing more. --Tom Keogh« less
"Dolph Lundgren. Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was only a matter of time before these two muscle heads appeared in the same film, right? Lundgren's claim to fame came with his role as menacing Russian boxer Ivan Drago in the fourth "Rocky" installment. He then went on to a lengthy career of low budget B movie actioners that have become increasingly irrelevant (and increasingly hard to find). Van Damme is a different story, although his career has likewise gone into what appears to be an irrevocable tailspin. He started out making kickboxing films, but his appearance in Albert Pyun's "Cyborg" helped him move into science fiction and gun heavy action flicks. Of the Van Damme films I have seen, I would say his best effort is director Peter Hyams's 1994 flick "Time Cop." Others would probably cite this film, "Universal Soldier" as Jean-Claude's finest hour. I disagree. While there is much here to entertain lovers of shoot 'em up action, there really isn't anything very original about the movie. Don't get me wrong; I found plenty to enjoy in "Universal Soldier," but I don't think the movie is the end all be all of lower budget action films as some do.
The gosh darned government is up to their old tricks again in "Universal Soldier." Back in the Vietnam War the military started a program to develop perfect soldiers, namely soldiers who would follow orders without question, possess no moral scruples, and ones that could tote around an impressive array of firepower. Problem is the soldiers have to die first before the program leaders can do their work. These reanimated troops, the most important of which are Luc (Van Damme) and Sergeant Scott (Lundgren), now ride around in a specially outfitted trailer fulfilling combat missions. For example, when a bunch of terrorists take over a dam and hold hostages, the military brings in these super soldiers to make quick work of the situation. Nothing is perfect, however, when dealing with a Pentagon program. Universal soldiers need fancy injections of some strange fluid to keep them primed. Their bodies are also quite susceptible to temperature fluctuations; so much so that keeping these guys on ice is a daily ritual. What else can we expect with a bunch of dead guys? Things would quickly get rather rank if you kept reanimated corpses running around in the desert for hours on end. Fortunately, operations leader Colonel Perry (Ed O'Ross) has everything firmly under control. Or does he?
Nope. Luc perished in Vietnam in an attempt to stop Sergeant Scott from committing a dastardly deed against the local populace. He managed to bring the crazed NCO down before expiring, but memories of the incident begin to reemerge in Luc's mind. Before you can say, "I will break you" Luc escapes from the program with the help of a nosy reporter named Veronica (Ally Walker) and Sergeant Scott goes nuts. What follows is predictable in the extreme as Veronica and Luc roam the landscape in an effort to find the man responsible for turning him into a zombie, Dr. Gregor (Jerry Orbach), and then return home to his dear parents in Louisiana. Sergeant Scott's new mission involves hunting down Luc in order to turn him into dog food. Hotels are shot up, vehicles explode, bodies cartwheel through the air, and the inevitable showdown between Scott and Luc properly--if predictably--entertains. The movie even throws in a humorous scene involving Luc chowing down on plates and plates of food at a diner before beating a bunch of locals senseless (he hasn't eaten in decades, after all). Will Luc survive long enough to meet up with the 'rents for a heartwarming reunion? Will Veronica live long enough to file the story of a lifetime? How many people will Sergeant Scott kill? Tune in and find out.
I enjoyed "Universal Soldier" immensely despite the numerous plot holes. For instance, the movie insists on telling us that Luc needs to cool off with ice quite frequently or else he begins to wear down like one of those wind up toys. The use of ice becomes rather slipshod later on in the movie when it is impossible for Luc to take a break from battling Scott. In fact, in several scenes we see Van Damme's character wheezing and moaning like a senior citizen only to return to full combat readiness a few seconds later. Hmmm. Moreover, how in the heck is it possible for a guy who died twenty years ago to eat solid food with no ill effects? Easy--the script insisted on it. But who really cares, though? It's not like we're watching this film to see marvelous performances or deep, intricate dialogue. "Universal Soldier" exists to show us lots of explosions and bloody carnage, and we thankfully get plenty of that. Sergeant Scott has a thing for killing anyone who gets in his way AND for carrying around necklaces made out of human ears, which definitely helps his character stand out in a crowd. Luc isn't above inciting a little mayhem himself as evidenced during his bone crushing fight with Scott. By the time the credits roll most action film fans will likely let out a sigh of moderate satisfaction over "Universal Soldier."
The Special Edition DVD contains plenty of extras, including an audio commentary with Van Damme and Lundgren, a making of feature, background information on the careers of both stars, an alternate ending that would have put the kibosh on the sequel had the filmmakers ran with it, and a bunch of action film trailers--"The Rambo Trilogy," "The Punisher," and a couple of others. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this movie is learning Roland Emmerich directed it. The success of "Universal Soldier" gave him enough clout to move on to bigger, but not necessarily better, films. I recommend watching this one and skipping the lousy sequel. "
Universal Soldier - Blu-ray Info
LGANS316 | Tokyo Japan | 10/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Version: U.S.A / Region Free Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 VC-1 BD-25 / Advanced Profile 3 Running time: 1:43:45 Movie size: 20,16 GB Disc size: 24,78 GB Average video bit rate: 19.00 Mbps Number of chapters: 24 Subtitles: English / English SDH / Spanish
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4379 kbps 5.1 / 48kHz / 24-bit / 4379kbps (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48kHz / 24-bit / 1536kbps) Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48kHz / 640kbps Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48kHz / 192kbps
#Out of the Blu - pop up trivia track #Audio Commentary #featurettes --Making-of --Alternate ending"
If you like this movie, you'll love the Special Edition DVD!
Titanium Raven | Mesa, AZ United States | 02/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well, most people who are going to buy the DVD are probably familiar with the movie anyway, so I won't repeat the plot. Watching it again after several years, I really have to say it's one of the better movies of the action genre, especially when you consider that you have people doing the stunts instead of lots of CGI like in today's movies.
As for the entire Special Edition DVD itself -- it has some great extras! Much better than some of the offerings I've seen on other DVDs of movies that were released in the era of VHS and you just didn't get extras, period. A "making of" featurette, interviews with Lundgren & Van Damme, and an alternate ending to the movie -- all fairly substantial material, too --not just tacked on afterthoughts. I was surprised to get so much on this DVD for such a great price!"
I need some Ice
Gunner | Bethlehem,Georgia | 04/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Universal Soldier DVD
It all began in the jungles of Vietnam. Two dead soldiers were rescued from death in a secret governmental program. Unfortunately some memories still linger. This movie pits Jean-Claude Van Dame against Dolph Lundgren. Who do you think will win?
Recommended for fans of Jean-Claude Van Dame and Dolph Lundgren.
Gunner April, 2008 "
S. R. | USA | 10/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie doesn't proclaim to be anything more that what it actually is, a leave-your-brain at the door action flick starring two of the biggest b-movie tough guys the 90s had to offer. Granted nobody is going to win any acting awards for this film, but Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are fairly convincing in their roles (although Van Damme's southern farm boy roots were a little hard to believe). Everyone knows the plot involving two deceased Vietnam soldiers brought back to life as part of a covert super soldier program, so I won't go into any more detail there. What I will state is that if one accepts this film for what it is, then it succeeds on almost all levels. There are plenty of explosions, well choreographed fight scenes, appropriately placed one-liners, and dark humor to keep any action movie fan entertained. Dolph Lundgren, who plays the villain, provides a lot of the films jokes as he morbidly delights in inflicting pain on others. Van Damme once again plays the underdog, but he is earnest in his desire to make his way home so one can't help but root for the guy.
The "Special Edition" DVD has some nice bonuses including commentaries by the two leads, the alternate ending (why this bizarre ending was filmed is a mystery), a making of documentary, and a look at Van Damme and Lundgren's backgrounds. This was perhaps the best featurette because it revealed all sorts of fascinating tidbits about the two stars. For instance, Lundgren went to M.I.T. on a Fulbright Scholarship for chemical engineering! Who would have guessed? In closing, the inexpensive price and special features definitely make this a suitable addition for any action fan."