Unilateral Failure
Universal Soldier: The Return
Review by Ross Anthony

"We'll have to blow them up and hope the pieces don't fight us."

Hi-tech military department resurrects soldiers killed in battle and monitors them with brain implanted micro-chips. The soldiers are fierce, hard to kill, and relatively emotionless. Nonetheless, the program's budget gets cut which prompts the main computer to take over the Universal Soldier squad and threaten anything biological that gets in its way. Jean Claude plays an earlier model minus the chip. He's the only one who has the code the computer needs to stay alive.

Like a theme park action show in which stunt-people run through a set of pops and propane blasts into safety nets barely hidden behind facade walls, "Universal Soldier: The Return" is mildly flashy to look at, but there is no sense of real danger. The Soldiers themselves are like the little green plastic guys I used to play with at age five. We expect a bit more from a Hollywood action movie. In one scene four U-soldiers are shot up by what seemed like a hundred SWAT guys. Somehow, not one of the four was hit in the face. That's way too hokey for a Van Damme movie.

The script fails to take any real risks as well. Formula action flick, with standard dialogue: "What's going on?" "They'll stop at nothing!" ... add gratuitous expletives. The acting is right on par with my plastic green army guys. Even Jean (whom I normally enjoy) was plastic.

I'm sorry to say, "Universal Soldier" seems to be a quickly made film, with uninspired direction, no unique purpose, populated with safe stunts and lots of shooting.

Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Kiana Tom, Bill Goldberg.
Directed by Mic Rogers. Written by William Malone, John Fasano.
Produced by Craig Baumgarten, Allen Shaprio and Van Damme at Tri-Star/Baumgarten-Prophet/Indi-Prod/Long Road.
Rated R.


Copyright © 1999 Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:43:50 PDT