Film (1992). Carolco International. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Executive producer Mario Kassar. Written by Richard Rothstein, Christopher Leitch, Dean Devlin. Cast includes Dolph Lundgren, Jerry Orbach, Ed O'Ross, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Ally Walker. 103 minutes. Colour.
Crisply made but derivative in most of its plot turns, Universal Soldier centres on a secret military unit of Cyborgs, many reconstructed from soldiers who died in Vietnam, their resurrection dependent on a new Drug. They are given great powers of strength and endurance, and the ability to recover rapidly from wounds – though with a tendency to overheat – and used by the government as a kind of super-anti-terrorist unit. Two of these begin to remember their pasts, the Louisianan Devreux (Van Damme) who was a peaceful kind of guy, and the brutal psycho Sergeant Andrew Scott (Lundgren), his old enemy. When investigative journalist Veronica Roberts (Walker) stumbles onto what is happening, the psycho now called GR13 attempts to kill her and she is saved by Devreux, now GR44. Violent conflict between the two cyborgs (envisaged as a kind of good Frankenstein Monster and a bad one) takes up the rest of the film, which given its predictability as an action thriller – two martial-arts musclemen its protagonists – is quite effective. It was novelized as Universal Soldier (1992) by Robert Tine. Emmerich's sf debut was the confused space-frontier German film Moon 44 (1989); this is better. His Stargate (1994), however, is much better again. [PN]
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