Universal Soldier Sci-fi action Review
Plot: During the Vietnam War, soldier Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) finds that his superior officer, Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), has turned violently deranged, and the two fight to the death. After their bodies are retrieved, they are placed into a secret program in which they are reanimated and trained to become unquestioning killing machines. While Devereaux and Scott initially have no memory of their former lives, glimpses of their pasts start to return, rekindling their intense conflict.
Review: Universal Soldier was the first Jean-Claude Van Damme movie I saw in the theatre; I loved it then and I still do today and it remains one of my all time favourite JCVD pictures.
The story isn’t exactly anything new but it’s Dolph Lundgren vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme which already makes it worth watching and the final fight scene (climaxing in what remains the greatest villain death to date) is legendary. I love final fights that last 10-15 minutes in movies as I get more emotionally involved with them and as Andrew Scott is so utterly unhinged you count down until he gets his much deserved comeuppance.
Dolph Lundgren steals the show hamming it up as Andrew Scott and he’s clearly having a ball in the role; it’s a shame they took away his ear necklace and one-liners for later sequels Regeneration & Day of Reckoning; that really made the character stand out with choice dialogue like “I’m all ears!”
Despite providing many laughs Dolph still manages to be threatening in the movie and Andrew Scott is a wonderful villain so it’s no wonder they keep bringing him back.
Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Luc Deveraux as a man of few words but that plays to his strengths; he spends most of the movie trying to remember who he was and rediscovering his humanity. The alternate ending to the film is interesting as it shows that Luc is permanently put out of action and it has a far more somber tone; I prefer the theatrical ending as it’s a bit more feelgood and also kept it open for some sequels (some better than others).
Ally Walker is appealing as Veronica Roberts and while she starts off as a pushy reporter she ends up having a heart of gold and wants to help Luc discover the truth.
Universal Soldier has an impressive supporting cast too including Michael Jai White (in the opening scene), action movie staples Ed O’Ross, Ralf Moeller, Simon Rhee, Jerry Orbach and Leon Rippy.
It’s well paced with regular fight scenes, explosions and shoot-outs never skimping on hard R violence with some good old fashioned brutal kills; that’s one of the best things about this series, rather than getting more commercial as it goes on like so many other franchises, it arguably gets more bloody (and weird) in future entries.
Christopher Franke provides the score and although it is rather minimalist, it still works and there is an awesome piece of music during the airport scene that has a great memorable tune.
Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Dolph Lundgren.
Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.
“A Tale of Two Titans” Featurette.
“Guns, Genes, and Fighting Machines” Featurette.
Behind the Scenes.