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Universal Soldier
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Universal Soldier More at IMDbPro »

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67 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Dolph Lundgren + Jean Claude Van Damme = Awesome

8/10
Author: AwesomeWolf from Australia
3 March 2005

I remember first watching 'Universal Soldier' on TV when I was about 8 or 9 years old. After that, whenever I saw it it didn't have sound, or I was rather inebriated, or both, or had other circumstances prevent me from appreciating the awesomeness of Van Damme v. Lundgren, until it was on TV again recently, and I got to revel in the glory of 'Universal Soldier'.

Van Damme plays Luc Deveraux, a soldier serving in Vietnam, under the command of Sergeant Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren). Deveraux has an attack of conscience when Scott seems to lose his altogether. In fact, Scott seems to be somewhere between insane and plain evil. After Deveraux refuses - on Scott's orders - to kill innocent villagers, the two soldiers kill each other. Listed as Missing-in-Action, the bodies of the two soldiers are used in the Universal Soldier program, and the two are re-activated some time later as GR-44 (Van Damme) and GR-13 (Lundgren), supposedly with no memories of their past.

When reporter Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker) stumbles onto some things she shouldn't have seen (seriously, if you want to keep your project secret, you don't drive around in an armoured bus, leaving unlocked crates lying around outside), her cameraman is murdered by one of the UniSols. GR-44 has flashes of his past, and takes Veronica on the run, with the slightly (very?) unstable GR-13 in hot-pursuit.

Action abounds for the rest of the movie, and while there isn't anything truly special, it is way cool, or even Awesome. We have car chases, heavy vehicle chases, Van Damme beating people up, and Lundgren being one of the awesomest bad guys ever. What is there to complain about? Nothing, that's what. I must say that Dolph Lundgren is at his best playing villains, and I'd even argue that his role in 'Universal Soldier' has been some of his best work to date. Van Damme also gets to credit 'Univeral Soldier' as being one his best movies.

Plot-wise? Again, little - if no - originality, and a pretty thin plot. However, as I always say "Less plot = More action = Awesome", and everyone is happy, and if you don't agree, then you really should not be watching 'Universal Soldier'.

I love 'Universal Soldier'. It stands close to the pinnacle of action B-movies, a genre everybody loves! It is a shame that I can the official and un-official sequels on DVD, but I can't get the original in all its awesome glory on DVD here in Australia. 'Universal Soldier' is a must-see for action fans everywhere - 8/10

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55 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Action Fluff

Author: Crap_Connoisseur from Australia
16 May 2006

Universal Soldier might be dumb and derivative but I couldn't care less, it is also one of the most entertaining action films to be released in the 1990s and provided signature roles for two of my favourite trash icons, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. The film also serves as a testament to the last good movie made by Roland Emmerich before selling his soul to the Hollywood machine.

This film has long been a favourite with genre fans. Universal Soldier was a theatrical box office hit but really developed its cult following on video. I watch this film every couple of years and I'm always struck by the quality of the writing, directing and yes, even the acting. This is simply a well crafted movie and an excellent example of a film that is so much more than the sum of its admittedly tawdry parts.

Universal Soldier owes a hell of a lot to "The Terminator". It lifts a whole raft of ideas from Cameron's action classic, including the basic concept of a good guy with superhuman strength protecting a woman from a bad guy with superhuman strength. Actually, it even borrows minor details like the eye-cam, the nude walk and an act of self-mutilation. Nevertheless, the film never feels like a blatant rip off. Roland Emmerich, while never a particularly original mind, injects sufficient change and innovation into the film to ensure it has a distinct energy of its own.

The film recycles old ideas with great skill due to the excellent screenplay. The action comes thick and fast, and the dialogue is first rate for an action film. Furthermore, it provides several memorable characters and successfully introduces an element of black humour without detracting from the action. No matter how well written it is, an action film is only as good its action sequences and Mr Emmerich does not disappoint. The film contains several fantastic set pieces, from the grandeur of the hostage rescue to the phenomenal truck chase through the desert, which even manages to find time for a mid-chase game of "catch" with live grenades and a string of memorably corny one-liners. Emmerich is in his element, filming explosions and stunts from every imaginable angle. Universal Soldier is also far gorier than his later films and is all the better for it.

The film would not be half as enjoyable without its leading men. Jean-Claude and Dolph both give great performances. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Jean-Claude was at his physical peak and excels during the action scenes. He performs several signature flying kicks in a great fight with Dolph, which is mercifully filmed in a long shot - I wish the John Woo wannabes from the "cut and paste" school of directing who directed Jean-Claude's later films had taken note. Dolph is great fun as the villain, making crazy eyes for all he is worth and relishing every trashy one-liner. They both are more than adequate in their non-action scenes, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that they are essentially playing refined zombies who walk around naked a lot. The supporting cast is also great. Ally Walker showed a lot of promise as the female lead and has gone on to have a good career in television. Jerry Orbach and Tico Wells, also TV regulars, give memorable performances in minor roles.

Universal Soldier is relentless, the film starts with a bang and never lets up. It might be trashy, but it is never less than completely entertaining. In my opinion, this is one of the seminal action films of the 90s. The sequels, however, are only recommended for experienced crap connoisseurs.

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41 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

An action classic

7/10
Author: Flagrant-Baronessa from Sweden
29 June 2006

Muscles from Brussels and the Swedish man-of-war Dolph Lundgren team up as superhuman soldiers brought back to life from Vietnam in this movie. I'm not sure what it is exactly that they do – I wasn't paying attention. But I'm pretty sure it's something about struggling with obeying the orders from their commanders and having flashbacks from their past lives. What I know is that they do fight a lot. They also fight civilians. They even fight each other, and that's when things start to get very entertaining.

It is only fair to watch this movie at least once since it has brought us not one, not two, but THREE sequels. What's even more awesome about these sequels is that they are all rated under 3.5 but not by enough votes to get them on the bottom 100 list on IMDb. If you fail in getting on a list like that, you even fail at failing and that is admirable. Universal Soldier is much more well-liked and higher-rated and rightly so.

I do not recall who, but another film critic put it best when he pointed to how different Universal Soldiers was from your average science-fiction movie. To summarize this, where most sci-fi movies get to the part where all the complex science needs to be explained by some brilliant professor, Universal Soldiers simply offers the explanation "we hypercharged their bodies to turn dead flesh into living tissue." And that's how dead soldiers were reanimated into superhuman killing machines. Brilliant. There's no pretension – just take it or leave it.

I can't find it in my heart to give this movie anything less than a 7 based on what it set out to do. Even though the acting is atrocious, the script is a joke and the dialogue is stupid, it's still a classic in my opinion. It had some intentionally funny moments like when Van Damme was in the diner and ate like ten meals of "today's special" and everyone was staring at him. If you don't find stuff like that funny, you have to watch it strictly tongue-in-cheek and just go for the brainless early-90s style action and cut-rate explosions. 7/10

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42 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Not great but solid action from Van Damme and Lundgren

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
20 June 2002

In a war zone Luc Deveraux stops his officer Andrew Scott, killing innocent civilians. However both die in the struggle. Years later they are part of a reanimation programme all Universal Soldiers – perfect fighting machines controlled like robots. However Deveraux has memory flashbacks causing him to flee with a reporter, his commander also experiences memory residues and takes the remaining soldiers to go after Deveraux.

One of Van Damme's and Lundgren's best films – although that's not saying much. The plot is pretty basic although there is some reasonable moralising about the soldiers. The action isn't fancy but it's solid and, unlike it's sequel, it's not afraid to be violent. While it's not a classic it does allow some good scenes and is a bit better than the usual Van Damme fare.

The cast are mixed. Van Damme is a perfect cardboard robot but doesn't convince when he has become human. He is the brunt of some good jokes too (`what accent?') and gets to bare his ass in customary style. Lundgren is actually quite good and his character develops from robot into war-weary soldier quite well. Ally Walker is so-so but she doesn't convince.

Overall this is enjoyable but it isn't perfect. For action fans it's solid enough to satisfy.

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Great entertainment!

9/10
Author: Thomas Jolliffe (supertom-3) from Marlow, England
15 March 2003

This may not be Shakespeare but it's certainly more fun. The film is basically elements of various other action movies and it works well. The key to this being the decent budget, the tongue in cheek style and the accomplished direction from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day).

This is one of the few action films from Van Damme and Lundgren to really compete with Arnold and Sly in terms of production values, large scale set pieces and a sense of real fun, with the mindless and excessive violence. Van Damme is above his usual standard with a fairly subtle performance,let no one call it wooden. Ally Walker has charm and is watchable but it is Lundgren who steals the show with a delightfully villainous performance. Amongst fans they consider this one of his best roles.

The action is big, loud and well choreographed. With some fantastic set pieces, such as the opening Hoover Damn sequence and the chase between a prison truck and an armoured truck. There is also the obligatory showcase karate from Van Damme.

Basically is you like a good action film you won't go wrong with this. This is at the time when the brainless action movies were still entertaining without being painfully un-original like modern popcorn films such as XXX, Exit Wounds and various others. ***

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23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Good action film, Van Damme's best

7/10
Author: Bjorn (ODDBear) from Iceland
15 September 2005

I just wanna say that I have a real soft spot for the 80's action heroes that I watched relentlessly when I was growing up. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Seagal and yes, to some extent, Van Damme. The Muscles from Brussels was always my least favourite but I usually checked out his films. I don't think any of them are REALLY good but I've always liked this one very much. Sure, it's pretty dumb for the most part but it has a distinct advantage over most of his films; IT'S ALSO GOT DOLPH LUNDGREN. Now, I just remember him so vividly in Rocky 4, and being as young as I was when I first saw it; I remember cheering him on, and being immensely sad when he lost.

Universal Soldier has a good opener, introducing Van Damme and Lundgren as Vietnam soldiers (Lundgren a total nut and Van Damme a good soldier) who wind up killing each other. Decades later, they end up becoming part of a zombie ultra military squad who are controlled by the government. But they snap out of it, come to life and go head to head once more, since they have some unfinished business.

Now, the story is no Oscar winner, but it's fairly original and sets the motion for some great action sequences and a very entertaining good vs. evil battle between Lundgren and Van Damme. If only the Ally Walker character could have been made a bit more tolerable (and less a cliché) we'd nearly have a total winner.

All in all, the action scenes are great, Lundgren is terrific, obviously having a field day playing his role and Van Damme is alright, but then again, he's never been great.

Universal Soldier is Van Damme's best film and quite easily recommended for action fans.

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26 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Dolph Lundgren provides memorable mayhem

8/10
Author: Lt_Coffey_182 from Portsmouth, England
14 November 2005

Universal Soldier is an intense, non stop action film that has you hooked from the start. Roland Emmerich, as always, delivers a finely polished entertainment piece that pits two big action stars against each other in the best roles of their career. With Terminator 2 Executive Producer Mario Kassar being part of this film, quality was ensured (although not to the standard of T2).

The gadgets and action sequences are what this film is all about and do well to distract from the far from original plot. With explosions and gunfights galore, this is an action seeker's dream as there is an exciting scene every few minutes. The UniSol Truck is a clever idea that makes for some great enjoyment later on in the film and also provides plenty of intense moments throughout. A truck that resembles a small military base is ridiculous but realism is not Universal Soldier's forte.

Jean-Claude Van Damme is not a good actor and only this film and Hard Target are the only Van Damme films I've seen that are worth watching. In this film, he is uncharacteristically good. Like Arnie in The Terminator, Van Damme benefits from playing a sub human character, allowing him to get away with delivering his lines flat. Fight scenes are Van Damme's strong point and in this film, he is in great shape to dish out some butt whoppin' high kicks. Dolph Lundgren gives a standout performance and is one of the most enjoyable bad guys you can watch. His lines are fantastic and he shines with charisma all the way to the end of the film. Lundgren's screen presence is so domineering; he cuts a great image of someone you don't want to mess with. Whilst not the most demanding role for an actor, Sgt. Andrew Scott is a very memorable character and Dolph Lundgren does more than enough to bring him to life. It is great to see Van Damme against Lundgren as they are very different in stature and persona, and also have different fighting styles, which creates great contrast.

Universal Soldier is not a film that will push any boundaries or be spoken about for years to come, but it is one of the most entertaining and well made films of this genre you'll ever witness. Watch out for Lundgren's psychotic, powerhouse performance which will have you in stitches and in amazement.

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28 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Admit it – you enjoyed it.

6/10
Author: RolandCPhillips from United Kingdom
18 October 2004

Okay, okay: it's as macho as hell, questionably acted, pretty brutal and not particularly imaginative. But it has faith in itself. Please don't think I mean to give this B-movie any real grandeur, but it does know how to get the blood pumping. If the action sequences are nothing new (cribbed from Arnie and Mad Max flicks), it pushes them home with a relentless logic, and the production values are fine.

There is an element of self-parody, thanks largely to Lundgren's engagingly OTT psychotic turn (he's the best of the bunch) and the film-makers have enough nouse to make JVCD rely on his ability to kick the life out of everyone.

Plot means nothing, the film is nasty, the semi-moral/sentimental tone that descends towards the end is pretty offensive and it's derivative.

But admit it - you enjoyed it. Hell, I thought it was a laugh.

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23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

This is Best Van Damme Movie, you will ever see.

8/10
Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
13 July 2005

Luc Devreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Sgt. Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) are two soldiers have killed each other in Vietnam. 25 Years Later... Devreaux, Sgt. Scott and other soldiers have been bought back to life by a secret government program known as "Unisols". They are genetically enhanced, unstoppable killing machines without memory, feelings or free will. But when Devreaux's memory has come back to him, he escapes the program with a sneaky T.V. reporter (Ally Walker). The superhuman chase begins.

Directed by Ronald Emmerich (The Day after Tomorrow, Independence Day, Stargate) made an extremely entertaining, violent, sci-fi thriller. This was a Box Office Hit back in 1992. This film that made director:Emmerich and co-writer:Dean Delvin to the A-List System in Hollywood. Emmerich went to direct major blockbusters film. Van Damme and Lundgren are nicely cast in the film as opposites.

DVD has an sharp non anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an digitally remastered-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound from the previous 1998 DVD. The latest 2004 DVD is the first time in anamorphic Widescreen with the same sound quality. DVD has an ingraining commentary track by the director, co-writer:Delvin and actors:Van Damme & Lundgren. DVD has two amusing featured and an darker alternative ending.

Universal Soldier went on to be Van Damme's best film, even Van Damme admits that his favorite film. This is Lundgren's best role to date. The film also stars:Ed O'Ross (Full Metal Jacket), Leon Rippy (The Patroit) and the late-Jerry Orbach (Dirty Dancing). Universal Soldier is followed by two t.v. sequels without Van Damme and Walker. Followed by a real sequel with Van Damme. Don't miss this violent but enjoyable film. Watch for the opening scene for Micheal Jai White, who went on to play The Lead Hero in Spawn and the Villain in Universal Soldier:The Return. Panavision. (****/*****).

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Universally watchable

6/10
Author: Frank Markland from United States
22 May 2006

Two dead American soldiers from Vietnam resurface years later as nuclear machines that help take down terrorists. However when a nosy reporter starts snooping around she rekindles the memories of the soldiers, one wants to go home and the other wants to kill the other. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren together in one film doesn't exactly bring up expectations of quality. However Universal Soldier manages to be far more entertaining than one would've guessed and not even in guilty pleasure way. The action is rather spectacular and while Van Damme and Lundgren are rather well suited to their parts. The secondary characters such as Jerry Orbach,Ed O'Ross and Ally Walker only provide our hero and villain with targets to shoot at but for mindless enjoyment, you can certainly do worse.

* *1/2 out 4-(Pretty good)

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