Universal Soldier: The Return

Universal Soldier: The Return

Was there anyone waiting for this movie? When Van Damme’s career began to tank in the late 90s he thought it would be wise to return to one of his most beloved characters. Which one? Bloodsporter Frank Dux, Kickboxer Kurt Sloane, Hard Target Chance Boudreaux, or Timecop Max Walker? No that would be Universal Soldier Luc Deveraux apparently. Van Damme, not having starred in any sequel of his other movies decided that Universal Soldier was the one where he would return to. The original wasn’t a masterpiece, but it still was a decent action movie with a nice performance by, dare I say it, Dolph Lundgren and had some nifty action scenes. This sequel however is a piece of crap.

Where to begin on this one? Let’s start with mentioning there isn’t a good performance in the entire movie. There are inatimate objects that have better line delivery than this cast. Not that they are helped by an intelligent script. Even pro’s like Xander Berkeley look like total idiots when saying their lines which absolutely make no sense. The worst of all is Bill Goldberg, whose facial expressions are as unconvincing as all the “smart” one-liners that were so obviously added in post-production; because he always has them when his mouth is off-screen.

Then there’s the script: Luc Deveraux is now completely alive (and kicking) again and for some strange reason trains new Unisols since this was such a brilliant plan in the first movie. Instead of a human commander all the UniSols are controlled by HAL S.E.T.H., a computer showing signs of artificial intelligence, voiced by Michael Jay White in one of his more weaker roles, in terms of acting speaking of course. When S.E.T.H. overhears that the Unisol program is being shut down he rebels by reprogramming all the UniSols, taking over the compound and transferring his computer into a human body becoming the most powerful Unisol there is. It’s up to Van Damme again to stop a seemingly invincible evil UniSol while having a reporter tag along, again.

In the 90’s hackers in movies were always portrayed as some sort of cyberpunks. Guys with brightly colored spiky hair, having computers they can control with speech and being able to access anything as long as they have a keyboard at their control. This movie has Justin Lazard playing one and he gives an over the top performance making his character very annoying. It’s no surprise his career came to a complete stop after 2000. Since he also appeared in Species II in 1998 you could say that this guy has a knack for picking out crappy sequels to appear in.

If there is one thing Universal Solder: The Return does right it’s action sequences. Van Damme gets plenty of opportunities to display his movies, and Michael Jay White has a fierce on-screen fighting presence. Sadly all of Van Damme’s opponents are unstoppable UniSols, so no matter how many times he punches them they always come back, even when you park a garbage truck upon them. This makes the whole fighting feel tedious, I even lost count of how many times he is fighting or trying to evade Bill Goldberg. They are face to face in combat every ten minutes or so. This brings me to another point of criticism: these guys can withstand bullets and even fire, but let’s face it: put enough bullets in their brains and you should be able to stop them. Dead or not, it is a given that their brains control their bodily functions. Yet nobody in the entire movie ever aims for their heads, they just keep on shooting the chest area, where they have armor. These people deserve to die.

This is a crappy sequel to a mediocre movie. Surely there could have been done more with the Universal Soldier franchise than this. The low budget prohibits the movie from exotic locations so the majority takes place in and around a military complex, with a small detour to a hospital and a strip club.

Universal Soldier? Universal Shit is more like it.

Universal Soldier
Universal Soldier: The Return Poster
Universal Soldier: The Return

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