Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme - A.W.O.L.) and Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren - Cover Up) were in Vietnam together but when Luc confronted Andrew over his sadistic killing of civilians they ended up killing each other. But their physique meant that they were perfect for a top secret project to turn dead soldiers into elite robot soldiers by super-charging their dead bodies and wiping their memories. Over 20 years later and Luc and Andrew are part of this elite force of men called "UniSols" but something triggers a memory in the men and the conflict between them starts all over again whilst journalist Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker) finds herself drawn into things with Luc having to protect her.
Sometimes the fondness for a movie will be so strong that even when you know it is corny you will still love it. That is how I feel about "Universal Soldier" as whilst having watched it recently it was corny in places but I still enjoyed it just as much as I did back in 1992. The look, the action, the pretty Ally Walker alongside the muscles of Van Damme and Lundgren it simply still entertains.
Now there is not a great deal you can say about "Universal Soldier" as in concept, narrative and so on it is simple. Science Fiction has allowed for dead soldiers to be re-animated and be turned into robo-soldiers who are controlled by a bunch of men sitting at desks. But of course even when you re-animate dead soldiers and wipe their minds some how a part of who they are remains and so we have the conflict of Luc and Andrew with the added element of the attractive Veronica in danger from Andrew. It is nothing new and highly predictable but still entertaining.
Now in truth "Universal Soldier" entertains really on a visual level with impressive scenes of these "UniSols" moving like an elite attack force, running down buildings, taking shots like assassins and well you know the sort of thing. Except here we have a group of men who all recharge in the lab at night, a scene which not only sees a line of bare chested muscle men all lined up but gives us scenes such as green fluid being injected in to the back of their heads. Everything about "Universal Soldier" comes down to the visual entertainment from a car lighter used to seal a wound to the head pieces which the "UniSols" wear, a form of primitive Google Glass if you like.
Ironically whilst the combination of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren was once the draw to watch "Universal Soldier" they now end up less important because it is all about that look rather than what they bring. In fact with them playing these re-animated soldiers it actually removes a lot of the actor's individual personalities and so could have just as easily worked with any recognizable muscle bound stars. What that actually means is that Ally Walker ends up bringing the most personality to the movie and in many ways delivers a performance superior to the movie as the comical Veronica.
What this all boils down to is that "Universal Soldier" is not great but it is a lot of fun for those who are looking for a simple action movie which relies on visual entertainment over intellect.