Universal Soldier (1992)

Universal Soldier (1992)
  • Time: 99 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Ally Walker


An elite team of soldiers has been used against terrorists where they use astounding physical capabilities to overcome them. Victoria, a reporter, follows them and discovers a part of their secret. When one of the team kills her cameraman she tries to escape. Luc, one of the soldiers begins to have flashbacks and turns sides and helps her as the remainder of the team follows to protect their secrets.

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  • Before films like Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables (2010) were released, most action stars performed solo. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, and Jean-Claude Van Damme all made their own separate movies. Combining star power wasn’t usually thought of because of how different the fan bases were. However, this movie is one those exceptions. Today it could be considered a movie where they collaborated before they were extremely well known (although at the time they were anyway). It was rare at that time to see two big names on the same screen – which probably pumped up a lot of people.

    Here, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren play Luc Deveraux and Andrew Scott, two Vietnam veteran soldiers killed in the line of duty, who end up being regenerated to serve as a UniSol (short for Universal Soldier). As a UniSol, their purpose is to carry out impossible tasks that no other ordinary soldier could do. To carry out these missions, the UniSols are monitored and commanded by remote audio instructions. One day on the latest mission, Luc begins to have a relapse of old memories and begins to bug out. After disobeying an order, he runs off with reporter Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker) to find out what he missed. Close behind them is Luc’s colonel with Andrew Scott 2nd in command looking to rid them of their existence.

    For the majority of the running time, the plot is a big chase. Yet, in only some instances does it actually feel like a chase. Writer Dean Devlin managed to include some unique scenes but his pacing on how the story moves, plods from time to time. That’s not to say the material he includes in the story isn’t noteworthy. Again, this goes back to some unique scenes that Devlin included – most of which involve Andrew Scott (Lundgren). This movie is also one of the few that director Roland Emmerich did not include a political commentary on since this idea is so far fetched. However, he does mingle some themes that are still important to recognize – for example, playing the role of God. If there was the technology to actually re-animate dead tissue, would it be possible to have complete control over the body? Hard to say, the mind is a tricky thing.

    However, the movie cannot be analyzed too much because throughout the story there are a lot of loopholes and questions that aren’t answered – like how can someone survive a fall from an enormous height and not come back mangled or even bruised? This is one those films where it’s fun to watch but cannot be taken literal because of how absurd the idea really is. The acting can be moderately dealt with. Ally Walker plays her role like any other person would. She has a few lines that’ll make people chuckle but not much else. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s acting is stone faced for most of the time because of how he’s not familiar with the world. However, Dolph Lundgren looked like he had a great time playing his role because of how deranged his character is. It was also wise of the casting department to at least make Lundgren the antagonist because of his height. If it were the other way around, I’m not sure if the entertainment level would be as high.

    What is fun to watch here, is when Lundgren and Van Damme finally clash. Since they both have martial arts training, there’s no question that the kicks and fists will fly between them. Lundgren’s got the bulk and Van Damme’s got the agility. They both are good in contrast to each other, the only thing that was needed was Van Damme putting just a little more emotion into his role. Other than that, the cinematography and editing works well too. Finally, composing the musical score belongs to Christopher Franke who now produces music for The Amazing Race (2002) series. Franke’s score does contain tunes that can be heard with light emotional tones but it’s nothing too deep; which is pretty much how the film should be taken. Fun but not deep.

    The action on screen between Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme is fun even though it is sporadic. The story elements are interesting considering it also makes the plot drag. Look for nothing too deep here.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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