Plot Summary: Luc and Scott were killed in Vietnam, but the army has a secret project for reanimating dead people as near-perfect soldiers.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Richard Rothstein (story), Christopher Leitch (story), and Dean Devlin (screenplay)
Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and Ally Walker
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) This is a typical 90s Hollywood action blockbuster: simple plot, big explosions, net down (see note 1 of this Grantland article for a good definition of “playing with the net down”), and big-name actors. Unfortunately too many of the “big-name actors” in 90s action movies were barely actors. Fitness sciences weren’t as developed then, so a diesel body could land you big roles…even if your acting ability was suspect. Nowadays, a talented actor can put on 30 pounds of lean muscle to play an action hero. Therefore, I’d much rather watch a modern, more-intelligent, well-researched, more-realistic, better-special-effects-enhanced action movie, starring more talented actors…although I am a sucker for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone films, because no matter how bad those guys’ acting was, they’ll always be awesome to me. Van Damme and Lundgren don’t have the same charisma, however, and Walker was just plain annoying in this movie–I liked her much more in Sons of Anarchy.
Also, some 90s action flicks made up for bad stories, acting, etc., by featuring great martial arts. Unfortunately, the fight scenes in Universal Soldier were unimpressive, as well.
CraigMakk: (Cruel and Unusual Punishment) I can honestly say that this movie is awful, and quite possibly one of the worst action flicks on the early 90’s. There are almost no redeeming qualities to this movie, other than the completely squandered potential to the concept of a futuristic Frankenstein’s monster movie. This movie was clearly an attempt to capitalize on Van Damme’s fleeting stardom, and his inability to act is almost laughable at some points. The biggest problem is that it isn’t laughable enough to be ironically humorous and enjoyable (see many of Schwarzenegger’s early attempts at “acting” for examples).
While I cannot remember if I liked this when I originally saw it, I know for a fact that I most definitely did not upon re-watching. The biggest compliment I can pay this movie is that I hope someday it is rebooted with actual actors and a plot…then I can die knowing that Universal Soldier is actually a good movie. In fact, the day those words are spoken will most likely be the apocalypse, so we’ll all be dead anyway. Enjoy!