Directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, Universal Soldier is the first of the franchise that started in 1992. First set in 1969 during the Vietnam War. An American special forces has received orders to secure a village against the Viet Cong. Luc (Jean Claude) discovers that Sergeant Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) has gone insane and has massacred the villagers, killed his own unit and kept their severed ears as trophies. With Luc only wanting to go home but Scott wanting to kill, the two end up killing each other. The two are reanimated in a secret Army project along with other dead soldiers. Twenty-five years later and not having aged a day, the two have become android fighting machines called UniSols and are back in action. However the secret government test begins to show cracks. With their memories supposed to be erased, the UniSols begin having violent flashbacks. As Luc slowly remembers who he was, Scott slowly descends back into madness and still thinks he is in 1969 and fighting the Viet Cong enemy.
An entertaining and exciting action and Sci-Fi flick, at the time of its release back in 1992, Universal Soldier was a box office hit and today has a cult following. No surprise there, with a well-crafted narrative, some pretty intense violence with a dab of gore, awesome looking costumes and most importantly a superb final fight. Even though the film was panned by critics and dubbed as Terminator 2 clone. It is still regarded as one of the best 90’s Sci-FI relics and the most memorable Jean Claude Van Damme film. Roland Emmerich gives the movie a mucho and energetic atmosphere which is usually expected in a Jean Claude movie.
Even though the movie is from the early 90’s and like most 90’s film the special effects and graphics were pretty dismal. However Irvin Kershner’s Robocop 2 (1990) was one of the first films to use a real-time computer graphics or "digital puppetry" to create a character in a motion picture. In 1991 James Cameron Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the first film to create a realistic human movement using CGI. It was the first film to have its main character partially computer-generated and the first blockbuster to feature multiple morphing effects. It was even the first major movie with 3D effects. I’m not saying that Universal Soldier is up there as one of the best special effect movies, however the effects and graphics are still pretty impressive and the film itself has aged well and is still watchable.
The best way to sum up Universal Soldier is “The Muscles from Brussels VS The Swedish Giant Lundgren both having superhuman strength”. One of the best chase scenes is between a prison bus and the armoured UniSols truck. A bus VS a truck along the narrow desert roads, on the edge of canyons with deep precipices makes for a thrilling chase scene. You just know that as the vehicles climbs higher up the cliffs, speed increases and the driving becomes more erratic, there is going to be an obligatory climatic ending of one of the vehicles driving off the edge, rolling into the gorge and bursting into flames.
An action movie with loads of bullets fired into buildings and cars, headshots, eyeshot and faceshots. This is pretty much the key origins into making a good action film. The Sci-Fi elements comes with the enhancing drugs, the futurist weapons, technology the UniSols have and let’s not forget the armoured UniSols truck they are cruising in. If you’re looking for a good old fashioned action Sci-Fi film, bringing back the memories of the good old 90’s with guys in super tight tank tops, then Universal Soldier is the film to watch.