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Universal Soldier: The Return
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Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), the heroic former Universal Soldier, is about to be thrown into action once again. With the Cold War over and defense budgets slashed, the entire Universal Soldier team is facing elimination, including SETH, the super-computer that controls the ultra-warriors. Knowing that his days are numbered, SETH decides to seek revenge by destroying his creators and implementing a reign of terror on the outside world. Morphing into human form as the quintessential Universal Soldier (Michael Jai White), SETH begins to unleash his wicked plan with the aid of his top soldier (Bill Goldberg). When conventional military strength fails to thwart his efforts, Luc must take charge. As Luc faces SETH and his team of unstoppable soldiers, a battle pitting man against machine and good against evil ensues, offering the kind of high-intensity sci-fi action you't soon forget.
Universal Soldier Luc Deveraux is back. Jean-Claude Van Damme gallantly attempts to resurrect interest in his tepid career with this action-riddled roller-coaster ride. Set in the not-too-distant future, Deveraux has been employed by the government to oversee the new UniSol project. What is UniSol? It's a military plan to turn dead soldiers into invincible fighting machines (see the first Univeral Soldier for more details). It's also the scheme that went horribly wrong when the soldiers turned psycho, killing the scientists who created them. Not deterred by this early setback, the government replicates the project. This time they figure that they can control the soldiers through a supercomputer called SETH (kind of like HAL in 2001, but smarter). But, as we all know, machines frequently break down. Pretty soon the computer comes to the conclusion that it's superior to humans and therefore it must destroy them. Uh oh.
Van Damme to the rescue. The muscles from Brussels heroically leap into action confronting the dangerous soldiers led by Bill (WCW) Goldberg and Michael Jai White (last seen in Spawn). The action is impressive and the stunts are engrossing. Goldberg is charismatic as the cartoonish villain who sneers and snouts while muttering macho things like, "I'm gonna kill that guy." Van Damme looks more at home in a production that he is not directing, and for once he lets his fists do the talking. Ironically, the movie is missing the gloss and big-budget pathos of its predecessor (created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich), making the original decidedly better. --Jeremy Storey
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The story concerns the Uni-sol project and Luc Deveraux(Van Damme)who this time around is a consultant and trainer for the project.His wife has passed on and he is a single father who has one daughter Hillary(Karis Bryant)who he dotes over lovingly.One day the overseeing General Radford(Danile Von Bargon)informs the project team that he has to pull the plug on the project.It has become a liability and the government won't stand for anymore mishaps.SETH,the artificial intelligence that runs the computer systems including commanding the Uni-sols themselves,decides this is against protocol and initiates a defensive posture.He takes over total control of all systems and instructs the soldiers to clear the facility in preparations for a total assault on the outside world.
Luc possesses the code which would be able to terminate SETH and with his help the General tries repeatedly to shut things down but without success;with much loss of military life in the process.In the meantime SETH has gone from a computer based intelligence into a human host(Michael Jai White).He also kidnaps Luc's daughter from her hospital bed and holds her as a bargaining chip.In the finale of the film Luc and SETH battle toe to toe until Luc manages to turn on the cryo freezing unit which turns SETH into a human popsicle;this in turn enables Luc to give one last high flying kick which disintegrates SETH into pieces.As Luc runs from the building he shoots and ignites explosives which destroys both the building and the remaining Uni-Sols.The film ends with Luc reunited in his daughter's arms.
As I mentioned above Van Damme was definitely on his acting game in this one and it is especially evident in his on screen relationship with his daughter.He emotes all the right feelings at just the right moments throughout and this is one of his better moments on the screen in that regard.Michael White makes for a very menacing SETH and ex football player/wrestler Bill Goldberg makes a fine antagonist to our hero Luc.Fine acting,supporting and lead,all the way through makes this an enjoyable action romp.Once the action starts there is no let up.
Technically the film has been transferred well and the picture is crisp and clear.There is a little inherent graininess now and again but nothing major.This DVD is a dreaded DDD(double sided disc) so be very careful re scuffing and scratching.One side has the widescreen version and the other the full screen.The film is also available in Dolby 2 and 5.1 sound.Extras include the trailer,talent files,an almost 4 minute look into the work out routine of Mr.White,a making-of featurette and a look at some of Van Damme's other film product for Columbia Tri-Star with comments by Van Damme on them and his career.
In conclusion I do recommend this film/DVD.A very nice fast moving action packed sequel to the original,with Van Damme on top of his game.
Once Again, Van Damme Surrounds himself with Poor Actors so he looks All the Better. Only Michael Jai White Stands a Cut above the Rest as the Super villain. Goldberg's is one of the most Moronic, Annoying Performances I've Ever Seen in my Entire Life. Every time he Opens his Mouth, a Plethora of Crap Dialogue and Horrendous Acting follows. Some may blame the Dialogue, but many films in this genre have Bad Dialogue, it's the Actors Job to make it sound good, Sadly, Goldberg is No Actor.
"Universal Soldier 2 - The Return" has, on the surface, Everything a By-the-Book Action Flick Needs, the Obligatory scene at a Strip Joint, (here they have to go there to use their Computer... Try to Stomach That) The Love Interest (an Exact Copy of the Love Interest in the Original, but Far more Aggravating) and Plenty of Action... (one such scene includes a Wrestling match with Goldberg against 2 Hospital Orderlies that are Bigger and more Muscular than Van Damme and Goldberg Combined) It's a Shame that the Action is Poorly Shot, Poorly Edited, Poorly Conceived, Poorly Timed, Poorly Choreographed, and Poorly Performed.
If you've Seen the Film, you know what I'm Talking about, If you Haven't seen it; you haven't the Faintest Idea what I'm Talking About. There is No Reason I can Think of to Recommend this film to Anyone, except maybe people who like to Torture themselves. But Average Joe's like Me, if you are Listening... Run, Run Away from this Movie, Don't Even Look at the Cover... If it's One your TV, Smash your TV, if a Friend Hires it, Get New Friends, If Van Damme Himself Pleads with you to Watch it, Chastise him for me and Every Other fan of the Truly Classic Original "Universal Soldier", a film that will Never be the same Again.
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