By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
I’ve often cited my 80s/90s popular film blindspot, which Hollywood insists was vital considering how many of its “classics” are being remade or sequelized these days. I feel like a cultural castaway a bit, because every example I’ve seen is invariably shit. Transformers, TMNT, (to a lesser extent) Gremlins, Power Rangers… y’all had awful tastes in entertainment when you were children.
Meanwhile, in Henry’s childhood…
Now, you probably shouldn’t have seen Universal Soldier when you were just a kid, but we all know you did. It’s the timeless story of two Vietnam fatalities (Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren) resurrected as super-soldiers by the military, who 25 years later revert back to their rivalry when a reporter’s (Ally Walker) snooping triggers the return of their memories. A bloody, explody chase across the Southwest ensues.
Pre-CGI disastertacular deliverer Roland Emmerich directs this film, and just like Michael Bay, I kind of wish he had never been exposed to CGI. Universal Soldier is pure brawny action spectacle, with big explosions, rock-hard muscles, gratuitous amounts of car crashes, real spurty squibs, all the wanton property damage you can shake a stick at.
Also, fuck Pandora. Give me more Grand Canyon!
The central duo of Van Damme and Lundgren are perfectly cast. Van Damme doesn’t get enough credit for his comedy chops, but he’s got ‘em. I like roundhouse kicks as much as the next guy, but the real highlight of the film is how he reacts after being essentially reborn as a huge manchild. The scene at the diner where he discovers food is pure gold. As for Lundgren, besides his obvious physical intimidation abilities, he does a great job portraying an unhinged lunatic bent on killing the traitors around him (which is everyone).
Of course, the physical intimidation is probably enough.
This is a seriously dumb movie. It’s not hard to imagine a coked up producer pelting a poor screenwriter with Betamax copies of Robocop, The Terminator, Rambo, and… Roadhouse, for some reason, and screaming “All of these, starring Jean Claude Van Damme!”
The plot’s about as dim as you could hope for, although what pissed me off most was how shitty our Top Secret Military Facility security apparently is. At least put up a fence, fuck.
Veronica Roberts, or rather Ally Walker, is annoying as hell and hammier than an Iowan Butcher’s Convention. I actually cheered when she got hit by a grenade, which is not exactly how you want audiences to react to your leading lady.
If I was being completely honest with myself, this would get a worse rating, but I had fun, dammit! JCVD 4-EVAH!
Take a Drink: whenever Dolph Lundgren does/says something pyscho
Take a Drink: for 90s computers
Take a Drink: for flashbacks
Take a Drink: Haha, ear puns.
Do a Shot: when you realize JCVD never takes his socks off for sex
Take a Drink: for every broken door, wall, or window