johnlink ranks UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992)

I wasn’t quite ready for bed last night, and wanted to watch something actiony and fun. I stumbled across UNIVERSAL SOLDIER and realized that A) I’ve never seen it before and B) I haven’t looked at a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie anywhere on these pages. Time to remedy both!

I watched UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992) on 4.18.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

I have some fairly harsh criticisms of this movie, so I’ll start by saying that it is fun enough, and I’m glad I saw it. When you go into a JCVD movie, you aren’t looking for Olivier doing HAMLET. You aren’t expecting realism or anything like that. You’re looking for a fun action flick with intense fighting scenes.

So looking at that, I wish the fun factor was higher, and the fighting better. The last battle is alright, save for the steroid stuff (more on that later), but much of the action in this is rudimentary.

Dolph Lundgren acts circles around Van Damme, and that is not a compliment for Lundgren. You would think that playing a reanimated soldier who is mostly emotionless for Van Damme, but that proves a bit too tough a task. I’ve seen JCVD be passable as an actor in stuff, but not in this.

The female lead, Ally Walker, is terrible. The Army Colonel, Ed O’Ross, is terrible. Lundgren is the only one who has any fun, and he has a couple scenes he does well. The movie needed more of this, as Van Damme and Walker kept being pushed into serious scenes.

This is directed by Roland Emmerich who went on to do INDEPENDENCE DAY, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, 2012, etc. This is before he had a big budget to work with, and he is certainly not skilled at making a small budget stretch.

The logic in this movie is terrible. I mean, this is a film about dead soldiers being reanimated as killing machines, so I’m not expecting much. But the movie debuts the soldiers in a scenario where some terrorists kill a bunch of hostages. Then the soldiers come in, kill the bad guys and win the day. All that is fine, but then everyone celebrates and both the military and the media celebrate that the Universal Soldiers were successful without loss of life. What!?!? They executed multiple hostages!

The steroid metaphor is prevalent here. These soldiers are kept strong by an injection from a syringe. This movie is from 1992, so this is before the steroid epidemic exploded into public consciousness in sports, but it was certainly an issue which was understood. For awhile, I thought the movie was making a point because of the systemic use of steroids as a standard within the organization. Then, when Lundgren takes power he starts injecting himself more and more to make himself super-humanly strong. So I thought with the villain doing this, Van Damme was going to have to find a way to beat him with his natural skill. Instead, he steals a syringe to make himself super strong as well. He is able to win the fight because he is equally juiced up. I guess I was giving this movie too much credit thinking it was making some sort of social commentary.

Some wasted opportunity for a campy fun movie here. It could have been something like DEMOLITION MAN. Instead, it is merely an inoffensive action movie which is almost quaint in its simplicity.






~ by johnlink00 on April 19, 2012.

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