Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Ally Walker
Directed by: Roland Emmerich Written by: Richard Rothstein and Christopher Leitch
The Story: Its been quite some time since I saw Universal Soldier: The Return, so I don't remember much about it. And I won't even go into the Televised series. I tried watching a DVD of it once and I went into a coma. But this movie, the original Universal Soldier wasn't too bad. its a basic no brainer action flick and what do you expect from that?
Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme star in this movie as soldiers killed during the Vietnam War. They weren't killed by the enemy but by each other. Sergeant Andrew Scott (Lundgren) went nutso and decided to execute some innocent villagers. When Private Luc Devereaux tried to stop him they both ended up in body bags and became part of a bizarre government experiment. Their bodies were reanimated and their memories erased, and now they serve as Universal Soldiers, called UniSols for short.
The UniSols are pretty versatile. They seem to be able to do anything, since they're a helluva lot stronger than a normal human and feel no pain. But there's a drawback. The process that bought them back to life also causes their bodies overheat rapidly so the UniSols must be kept in cold storage frequently. Under the command of Colonel Perry, they use a big ass Truck as a mobile HQ and are unleashed to diffuse a hostage situation at a dam somewhere out west. The UniSols perform successfully, which catches the attention of an ambitious reporter named Veronica. (Wasn't that Archie's girlfriend?) Veronica snoops around, perhaps a little too much and when Colonel Perry and his men find her and her friend they send GR13 (Scott) and GR44 (Devereaux) to capture them. Past memories though are seeping through the minds of both men, and GR13 reenacts his murderous rampage in Vietnam and kills veronica's friend. GR44 two reacts and stops him from killing veronica and flees with her. though little more than an automaton, GR44's memories of who he is and what's happened to him slowly begin to reemerge.
That's still doesn't keep him out of hot water. Now free of Colonel Perry's control, GR44 and Veronica are on the run, while Perry, his team and the other UniSol's are on the chase to recapture him and stop Veronica from blabbing too much. although the public knows about the Universal soldiers they don't know that they're actually dead men resurrected and controlled like robots. (Which is kind of strange....since Perry didn't mind having News crews film the UniSols in action at the Dam. What if someone were watching at home and thought "Hey! That's my Uncle Bill! But the Army said he was killed in 'Nam! How could he be on TV now?!") Things go from bad to worse, at least for Colonel Perry. After two failed attempts to capture GR44 and veronica, GR13 regains his memory....only he's still crazy like he was in Vietnam. I wouldn't want to fight a sane Dolph Lundgren let alone a well armed insane Dolph Lundgren who just happens to have the strength of ten men! GR13 kills Perry and a few of his aides and takes command of the rest of the team. his mission: Find and terminate GR44 and Veronica.
Not only are the UniSols after our two friends, the cops are too. Perry (before GR13 ventilated his head) has framed Veronica for the death of the other reporter. Eventually they get caught by the police, but GR13 catches up with them and tries to kill them both. (using those slow fuse grenades you see in movies. You know, the ones that don't explode for 20 seconds giving the target plenty of time to pick it up and throw it back) They naturally escape though and GR13 is thought to have died in the attempt. Veronica helps GR44 find his way home to his parents that have thought he was dead for the past 25 years. Too bad they didn't check to make sure that GR13 was dead! He arrives and after tying up the parents in the barn and almost killing Veronica proceeds to beat the stuffing out of GR44. GR44 supposedly doesn't stand a chance since GR13 has been pumping himself up with "Muscle Enhancers", the goo that the scientists used to make the UniSols ridiculously strong. It looks grim for the good guys when GR44 gets his hands on a vial of the stuff (while GR13 is bruising his knuckles on GR44's face) and hypes himself up too. On equal ground now, GR44 starts giving as good as he gets, tearing the crazed attacker a new asshole. Determined to end this once and for all, GR44 throws his foe into one of those big as farm choppy things and grinds him to little bitty bits. And despite the fact that she was blasted by a hand grenade Veronica is still alive (and not even scratched!) The end.
This was probably the first Van Damme picture that I ever saw as a younger man. The payoff for this movie is the fight to the finish between Lundgren and Van Damme. Both men nowadays seem to appear in mainly straight to video crap and a lot of people shy away from movies with either of them in it. Well, I can't say that's a really bad thing, but at least in this movie they're pretty good. For the most part neither of them have to act. They just have behave like robots. Van Damme doesn't have too much dialogue so he's there mainly to do feats of derring-do. Lundgren only has to act like a homicidal fruitcake and he's capable of that. Keep a look out for Jerry Orbach....he plays a doctor in this movie even though I know him as Detective Lenny Briscoe on TV's Law and Order.
Best Lines: “I'm all ears.” - GR13 as he holds up a necklace made of human ears.
Are you kidding me?
1.) Even after GR13 kills the innocent reporter in cold blood, Colonel Perry refuses to take him offline, claiming "he needs every soldier he's got" to catch GR44. But he's got several other UniSols! What harm could it do to take the one UniSol that's starting to get out of hand off duty? Hasn't this man seen Jaws? That's like refusing to close the beach today just because only one person get ate by the shark yesterday.
2.) Why are all of those people just watching one of the UniSols eat raw meat in the supermarket while GR13 is going nuts in the freezer? If a guy drags two motionless bodies in a supermarket while I'm shopping I think I'd be able to do without my beef brisket that day. These morons just stand there gawking instead of realizing they're in a potentially dangerous situation. Its not like GR13 was stopping anyone from just leaving!
3.) If you look real hard you can see that the dead bus driver is still steering the prison bus when GR13 attacks GR44 and Veronica.
4.) GR13 and the other UniSols must have gotten their marksmanship training from the A-Team. I've never seen so many guys throw so much lead at something and not hit one single person they were aiming at. They managed to shoot up the motel and not even injure the couple that was lying in bed!
5.) Speaking of the couple in the motel...man, I hope I never have to hide under the sheets with a strange couple like that. Just the thought of having to stare at that guys package might have made me give myself up!
Nudity and Sex: None.
Col. Perry remarks that if those "pencil necks at the Pentagon" found out that they were reanimating dead soldiers and using them as UniSols they'll all go to jail. Damn, I'd be interested in knowing where he's getting the funding for this little project then. Not to mention that the UniSols are well known since their exploits are broadcast on TV!
After the disastrous attempt to recapture GR44 results in the destruction of the desert gas station, Col. Perry says "They're pulling the plug. The mission is over!". Who's pulling the plug!? Didn't he say earlier that the Pencil necks in the Pentagon didn't know anything? Well, perhaps they just don't know that the UniSol's are really dead guys....still why would anyone pull the plug on trying to catch GR44? Are they just planning to let him go?
Note to all mad scientists: If you're gonna reanimate dead guys and use them as a fighting force, you might want to consider a self destruct system just in case one of them goes berserk.
How'd Veronica survive being blown up by that grenade?
The Final Judgment: Looking for an action movie where you don't really need to think? Well, then you might want to rent this one. Watching Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren beat the sh*t out of each other at the end makes up for almost anything else in the movie!