Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Universal Soldier (artisan) [Blu-ray]
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on October 2, 2005
This movie doesn't proclaim to be anything more that what it actually is, a leave-your-brain at the door action flick starring two of the biggest b-movie tough guys the 90s had to offer. Granted nobody is going to win any acting awards for this film, but Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are fairly believable in their respective roles (although Van Damme's southern farm boy roots were less than convincing). Since practically everyone knows the plot involving two deceased Vietnam soldiers brought back to life as part of a covert super soldier program, no further exposition is necessary. What is worth noting is that if one accepts this film for what it is, then it succeeds on almost all levels. There are plenty of explosions, well choreographed fight scenes, appropriately placed one-liners, and intermittent dark humor to keep any action movie fan entertained. Dolph Lundgren, who plays the villain, provides a lot of the film's jokes as he morbidly delights in inflicting pain on others. Van Damme once again plays the underdog, but he is earnest in his desire to make his way home so one can't help but root for him.

The 'Special Edition' has some nice bonuses including commentaries by the two leads, the alternate ending (why this bizarre ending was filmed is a mystery), a making of documentary, and a brief look at Van Damme and Lundgren's backgrounds. This was perhaps the best featurette because it revealed all sorts of fascinating tidbits about the two stars. For instance, Lundgren went to M.I.T. on a Fulbright Scholarship for chemical engineering! Who would have guessed? In closing, the likable leads coupled with the inexpensive price and entertaining special features definitely make this film a suitable addition to any action fan's arsenal.
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HALL OF FAMEon February 24, 2005
Dolph Lundgren. Jean-Claude Van Damme. It was only a matter of time before these two muscle heads appeared in the same film, right? Lundgren's claim to fame came with his role as menacing Russian boxer Ivan Drago in the fourth "Rocky" installment. He then went on to a lengthy career of low budget B movie actioners that have become increasingly irrelevant (and increasingly hard to find). Van Damme is a different story, although his career has likewise gone into what appears to be an irrevocable tailspin. He started out making kickboxing films, but his appearance in Albert Pyun's "Cyborg" helped him move into science fiction and gun heavy action flicks. Of the Van Damme films I have seen, I would say his best effort is director Peter Hyams's 1994 flick "Time Cop." Others would probably cite this film, "Universal Soldier" as Jean-Claude's finest hour. I disagree. While there is much here to entertain lovers of shoot 'em up action, there really isn't anything very original about the movie. Don't get me wrong; I found plenty to enjoy in "Universal Soldier," but I don't think the movie is the end all be all of lower budget action films as some do.

The gosh darned government is up to their old tricks again in "Universal Soldier." Back in the Vietnam War the military started a program to develop perfect soldiers, namely soldiers who would follow orders without question, possess no moral scruples, and ones that could tote around an impressive array of firepower. Problem is the soldiers have to die first before the program leaders can do their work. These reanimated troops, the most important of which are Luc (Van Damme) and Sergeant Scott (Lundgren), now ride around in a specially outfitted trailer fulfilling combat missions. For example, when a bunch of terrorists take over a dam and hold hostages, the military brings in these super soldiers to make quick work of the situation. Nothing is perfect, however, when dealing with a Pentagon program. Universal soldiers need fancy injections of some strange fluid to keep them primed. Their bodies are also quite susceptible to temperature fluctuations; so much so that keeping these guys on ice is a daily ritual. What else can we expect with a bunch of dead guys? Things would quickly get rather rank if you kept reanimated corpses running around in the desert for hours on end. Fortunately, operations leader Colonel Perry (Ed O'Ross) has everything firmly under control. Or does he?

Nope. Luc perished in Vietnam in an attempt to stop Sergeant Scott from committing a dastardly deed against the local populace. He managed to bring the crazed NCO down before expiring, but memories of the incident begin to reemerge in Luc's mind. Before you can say, "I will break you" Luc escapes from the program with the help of a nosy reporter named Veronica (Ally Walker) and Sergeant Scott goes nuts. What follows is predictable in the extreme as Veronica and Luc roam the landscape in an effort to find the man responsible for turning him into a zombie, Dr. Gregor (Jerry Orbach), and then return home to his dear parents in Louisiana. Sergeant Scott's new mission involves hunting down Luc in order to turn him into dog food. Hotels are shot up, vehicles explode, bodies cartwheel through the air, and the inevitable showdown between Scott and Luc properly--if predictably--entertains. The movie even throws in a humorous scene involving Luc chowing down on plates and plates of food at a diner before beating a bunch of locals senseless (he hasn't eaten in decades, after all). Will Luc survive long enough to meet up with the 'rents for a heartwarming reunion? Will Veronica live long enough to file the story of a lifetime? How many people will Sergeant Scott kill? Tune in and find out.

I enjoyed "Universal Soldier" immensely despite the numerous plot holes. For instance, the movie insists on telling us that Luc needs to cool off with ice quite frequently or else he begins to wear down like one of those wind up toys. The use of ice becomes rather slipshod later on in the movie when it is impossible for Luc to take a break from battling Scott. In fact, in several scenes we see Van Damme's character wheezing and moaning like a senior citizen only to return to full combat readiness a few seconds later. Hmmm. Moreover, how in the heck is it possible for a guy who died twenty years ago to eat solid food with no ill effects? Easy--the script insisted on it. But who really cares, though? It's not like we're watching this film to see marvelous performances or deep, intricate dialogue. "Universal Soldier" exists to show us lots of explosions and bloody carnage, and we thankfully get plenty of that. Sergeant Scott has a thing for killing anyone who gets in his way AND for carrying around necklaces made out of human ears, which definitely helps his character stand out in a crowd. Luc isn't above inciting a little mayhem himself as evidenced during his bone crushing fight with Scott. By the time the credits roll most action film fans will likely let out a sigh of moderate satisfaction over "Universal Soldier."

The Special Edition DVD contains plenty of extras, including an audio commentary with Van Damme and Lundgren, a making of feature, background information on the careers of both stars, an alternate ending that would have put the kibosh on the sequel had the filmmakers ran with it, and a bunch of action film trailers--"The Rambo Trilogy," "The Punisher," and a couple of others. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this movie is learning Roland Emmerich directed it. The success of "Universal Soldier" gave him enough clout to move on to bigger, but not necessarily better, films. I recommend watching this one and skipping the lousy sequel.
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on November 3, 2004
[This is the review I submitted some time ago for an earlier edition of this release. This new 'Special Edition' also has a few nice extras, including a making-of documentary, an alternate ending, and interviews with Van Damme and Lundgren. The interviews are particularly good; Lundgren is sharp and intelligent, and Van Damme's exuberant charm is infectious.]

I like this movie. Roland Emmerich turns out decent work when he starts with a decent idea.

And this movie is based on an extremely cool idea: a secret government project to use the reanimated corpses of dead soldiers as 'UniSols' ('UNIversal SOLdiers'). They're like killer combat zombies -- equipped to receive commands remotely, impervious to pain, quick to heal, and pretty much unstoppable although they tend to overheat if they stay active for too long.

The plot: Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren were in Viet Nam together, Lundgren wacked out and started killing innocent civilians, Van Damme tried to stop him, and they wound up killing each other. (This is all in the first five minutes of the film.) Their corpses were packed in ice and shipped off to the UniSol project, and after the opening credits roll, they're on an antiterrorist mission as part of a S.W.A.T. team from hell. But a few things start to jog their memories, and it isn't long before the two of them are at it again . . .

You don't have to be a particular fan of the Muscles from Brussels to enjoy the concept here, but Van Damme is actually pretty effective in his role. At any rate the story is briskly paced and about as believable as stuff like this ever gets. It's nicely done if you like this sort of thing (which I do).

Ally Walker does nicely here too, as a newswoman who winds up accompanying Van Damme in his, um, travels. If you enjoyed her in _Profiler_ (as I did, and I stopped watching the show after she left), you'll like her in this.

An entertaining action-SF flick, then, and a cut above the usual 'B-movie' fare. This probably isn't Emmerich's best work (it seems to me to try a little too hard to be _The Terminator_), but it's well done.
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on December 25, 2003
I like this movie. Roland Emmerich turns out decent work when he starts with a decent idea.
And this movie is based on an extremely cool idea: a secret government project to use the reanimated corpses of dead soldiers as 'UniSols' ('UNIversal SOLdiers'). They're like killer combat zombies -- equipped to receive commands remotely, impervious to pain, quick to heal, and pretty much unstoppable although they tend to overheat if they stay active for too long.
The plot: Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren were in Viet Nam together, Lundgren wacked out and started killing innocent civilians, Van Damme tried to stop him, and they wound up killing each other. (This is all in the first five minutes of the film.) Their corpses were packed in ice and shipped off to the UniSol project, and after the opening credits roll, they're on an antiterrorist mission as part of a S.W.A.T. team from hell. But a few things start to jog their memories, and it isn't long before the two of them are at it again . . .
You don't have to be a particular fan of the Muscles from Brussels to enjoy the concept here, but Van Damme is actually pretty effective in his role. At any rate the story is briskly paced and about as believable as stuff like this ever gets. It's nicely done if you like this sort of thing (which I do).
Ally Walker does nicely here too, as a newswoman who winds up accompanying Van Damme in his, um, travels. If you enjoyed her in _Profiler_ (as I did, and I stopped watching the show after she left), you'll like her in this.
An entertaining action-SF flick, then, and a cut above the usual 'B-movie' fare. This probably isn't Emmerich's best work (it seems to me to try a little too hard to be _The Terminator_), but it's well done.
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on October 27, 2004
As a special edition, it has nothng that most DVDs don't already come with; but the extras are fun. The one featurette - Guns, Genes, and Fighting Machines, includes shots, still photos and interviews from the actors, director, and writers. The next extra - A Tale of Two Titans, is an interview with Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. This was a little more enjoyable. I seldom like movie star interviews, but Jean Claude was obviously excited and his energy came through, and Dolph Lundgren was intelligent and sharp.

The movie itself, well, most everyone buying this movie probably knows teh story and if you don't, there is not much there - just a sci fi, action flick, poised to develop aenough character to set up action scenes and fights. It was shot on a small budget,but does well enough (although I would have prefered much more martial art action). Still a fun movie. No where near great, but the extras add another star to the rating.
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on October 28, 2008
Version: U.S.A / Region Free
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
VC-1 BD-25 / Advanced Profile 3
Running time: 1:43:45
Movie size: 20,16 GB
Disc size: 24,78 GB
Average video bit rate: 19.00 Mbps
Number of chapters: 24
Subtitles: English / English SDH / Spanish

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4379 kbps 5.1 / 48kHz / 24-bit / 4379kbps (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48kHz / 24-bit / 1536kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48kHz / 640kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48kHz / 192kbps

#Out of the Blu - pop up trivia track
#Audio Commentary
#featurettes
--Making-of
--Alternate ending
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on February 9, 2006
[Note: Amazon links reviews from the DVD product to that of the Blu-ray product and vice versa for the same title. Annoying if you want a review specific to the format you're looking for. So if you're looking for a format-specific review, be sure to check where the review is from, in the info at the beginning of the review. The following review is for the DVD edition that came out 4 years before the Bu-ray edition. Just FYI.]

Well, most people who are going to buy the DVD are probably familiar with the movie anyway, so I won't repeat the plot. Watching it again after several years, I really have to say it's one of the better movies of the action genre, especially when you consider that you have people doing the stunts instead of lots of CGI like in today's movies.

As for the entire Special Edition DVD itself -- it has some great extras! Much better than some of the offerings I've seen on other DVDs of movies that were released in the era of VHS and you just didn't get extras, period. A "making of" featurette, interviews with Lundgren & Van Damme, and an alternate ending to the movie -- all fairly substantial material, too --not just tacked on afterthoughts. I was surprised to get so much on this DVD for such a great price!
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on July 9, 2005
Sci-fi action "dream match" pairing mid-90's box-office champion Jean-Claude Van Damme with fellow action superstar Dolph Lundgren as rival soldiers who kill each other in Vietnam, only to be brought back in 1993 as cyborgs in a top secret government project. They both soon begin to have flashbacks to their former lives and return to their original missions with sympathetic country boy Van Damme wanting to go home while psychotic war-obsessed Lundgren wants to kill him. Ally Walker is thrown into the mix as a female reporter trying to expose the government's top secret operation in order. Universal Soldier is more or less an ultra-violent vechile with Van Damme battling Lundgren to the death but unlike most genre films, it has a sense of humor with its subject matter. This "Special Edition" DVD has featurettes on Van Damme and Lundgren as well as one of the most outrageously-ridicilous "alternate endings" I've ever seen. If you're a fan of the movie, the wacky original ending is worth the price alone.
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on April 17, 2016
This movie is Van Damme`s best movie. Very well made with an awesome screen stealing performance by Dolph Lundgren. It`s not a cheap direct to video type action film that Van Damme and Lundgren are usually in. It has a big budget blockbuster feel to it. Also very well directed by Roland Emmerich surprisingly. Slick, professional looking and different. Very violent and very fun. If you`re an action fan at all this is a must see. If you`re not a Van Damme or Lundgren fan don`t let that stop you. It will surprise you.
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The movie accomplished what it needed to do on a rainy afternoon. I am,
CERTAINLY, glad that it DID NOT have the---included in the extras---op-
tional ending... now, THAT ending REALLY sucked.

Great action-time-waster!
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