Sometimes you are just in the mood for something blatantly mindless, poorly written, and violent fun. Well, the next stop in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book should provide me with more than a healthy dose of that as I dive into the works of Roland Emmerich. How he keeps getting A-list stars to work with him is beyond me, though, admittedly at the time this one was made, neither star was necessarily A-list, but they were popular.
Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren co-star in this futuristic actioner that sees both of them KIA in a violent encounter with one another while they served in Vietnam. Smash cut to the present day, where a new military project is being unveiled using these dead men, with cybernetic enhancements.
Van Damme is Luc Deveraux, and Lundgren is Andrew Scott. They are malleable and under control used by the government to take down threats domestic and foreign. But when their memories begin to come back, Scott’s murderous tendencies resurface leading to a confrontation between the two muscle-bound men.
Ally Walker plays reporter Veronica Roberts who gets caught up in events, a news story that no one will believe, and ends up in all sorts of trouble.
Emmerich can make a slick looking film, that is definitely one of his strengths, but his material is never better than b-movie popcorn fare no matter who is starring.
For all it’s would-be flash, Universal Soldier is not much more than a prolonged chase sequence. Scot and the UniSols pursue Deveraux and Roberts; their ‘controllers’ intent on stopping Roberts before she can get the story about this beyond black budget project out to the public.
Through it all Deveraux’s memories of Vietnam and his conflict with Scott continue to arise, while Scott begins to fight the system’s control as well. He just wants to put down Deveraux once and for all.
Violent, brainless, mindlessly entertaining, this one film eventually spawned a series of films, though, perhaps, they should have left it at one.
I will say this, by making them emotionless it gives both actors, neither of whom is known for their acting prowess, an excuse for the vacuous expressions that seem to be permanently etched upon their faces.
Jerry Orbach is on hand as Dr. Gregor, to provide a measure of gravitas as he provides exposition for and the ‘science’ behind the UniSols.
In the end, however, the film is nothing more than a slick looking, poorly scripted, terribly acted action film, featuring two iconic 80s action heroes going head to head.
If that’s what you are looking for, you’ll no doubt enjoy it, but if you want something a little more substantial with your action, you may want to look somewhere else.