Urban Cinefile
William Kellys War
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 30, 2014 - Edition No 921 

Search SEARCH FOR A REVIEW
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Newsletter Options - Registration is FREE Help/Contact

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN

SYNOPSIS:
At the top-secret Unisol facility in Texas, the bodies of dead soldiers are being re-animated and implanted with microchips making them virtually indestructable. Their programming is controlled by S.E.T.H, a supercomputer which runs amok when it discovers the project is to be terminated as a result of military funding cuts. Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a former 'Universal Soldier' now returned to human status, leads the fight to stop S.E.T.H and the soldiers it has programmed to destroy everything in its path. Teaming up with television reporter Erin (Heidi Schanz), Deveraux faces a showdown with the computer which has transferred its intelligence into the body of one of its fighting force.

"Wham-bam, no thank you Van Damme. Even staunch fans of the muscles from Brussels will have a hard time swallowing this tragically inept action film. If you witnessed the original Universal Soldier you'll know it was a stiff to begin with and this sequel made seven years later qualifies as dead-horse flogging of the worst kind. No-one expects too much logic in no-brainers like this but, really, if this is such a top secret military facility why is single dad Deveraux's daughter given free reign to wander around and hang out with S.E.T.H. - couldn't he get a babysitter? And why must Deveraux stop at a strip joint when he needs internet access? These kind of discrepancies are forgivable when the action's up to par but Van Damme doesn't seem as nimble these days - most of the hand to hand combat is filmed in tight shots which hardly generate any excitement and are an obvious cover-up move. Poor Heidi Schanz has little more to do than contemplate how Linda Hamilton got such a good deal in Terminator 2 (which this shamelessly rips-off) and hope she can escape the debacle intact. I've seen almost every Van Damme vehicle and even liked a few of them. Not this rock bottom affair which seems lucky to have made it onto the big screen when rapid deployment to the weekly video hire shelves seems much more appropriate."
Richard Kuipers

"Universal Soldier: The Return is clearly aimed at the teenage boy who loves computer games of mass destruction. It's a pity that first time director and former stuntman, Mic Rogers doesn't seem to have risen above the film making skills of a teenage boy. The opening sequence says it all. Thumping heavy metal soundtrack as hero Luc (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Erin (Heidi Schanz) emerge from behind a hill on a jet-ski, shooting the evil bad guys who are in hot pursuit. Lots of shooting, dead guys, changes of transportation, still thumping soundtrack. They're separated. Very bad Romeo (Bill Goldberg) captures Erin, rips open her shirt, giving us a screenful of her breast, and is about to rape her when hero Luc appears in the nick of time, saving her, then going on to fight his own martial arts style battle. The movie continues in exactly the same vein to the bitter end. The plot is no more than one excuse for a bit of biff, followed by another. Luc, apparently, has become more human (read feeling) since the original Universal Soldier, giving Van Damme the opportunity to show how well he can handle emotional scenes. He doesn't. He is only challenged in the bad acting department by Bill Goldberg, whose claim to fame is as a star of World Championship Wrestling. Universal Soldier Mark I made $100 million at the box office. The fact that this sequel opened in Russia would indicate that they are not expecting to do similar business with this one."
Lee Gough

"According to the accompanying press notes for this film, "He [van Damme] constantly tackles new and inventive projects that showcase his charisma, charm and martial arts prowess." OK, so yes, his martial arts prowess is prevalent, but to call this film inventive and van Damme charismatic, is rather like calling Bugs Bunny, three dimensional. The film's pair of screenwriters have scripted a piece devoid of logic, any sense of character, simply a series of plot-intensive action vignettes that have been given the overblown treatment by inexperienced first-time director Mic Rodgers, a former second-unit director and stunt coordinator. Hiding his inability to work directly with actors, Rodgers simply replaces performance with a collage of explosions, gunfire and incessant violence. It's curious that the American ratings board was willing to slap the dreaded NC17 rating (our R) onto Eyes Wide Shut, due to the film's graphic sexuality; yet this film, with its brutality, suffers no such fate. It's a dark, clumsy film, poorly put together and badly lit, resembling a rather bad MTV video clip, including a tedious music score that manages to underlie the film's banality and script deficiencies. Van Damme is appalling in this mess, and his more emotive moments remain implausible."
Paul Fischer



Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 3
Mixed: 0

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (MA)
(US)

CAST: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bill Goldberg, Scott Roland, Heidi Schanz, Colin Skelton, Kiana Tom

DIRECTOR: Mic Rodgers

PRODUCER: Craig Baumgarten, Daniel Melnick

SCRIPT: John Fasano, William Malone

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael A. Benson

EDITOR: Peck Prio

MUSIC: Don Davis

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Chapman

RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 5, 1999







SciFi Film Festival
Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2014