Oct 272019

Universal Soldier is a flawed film, even a little amateurish in some respects especially with the direction by Emmerich, but still a fun enough flick pairing up Van Damme and Lundgren.



Universal Soldier

Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction
Lionsgate | R – 103 min. – $22.99 | November 5, 2019

Date Published: 10/27/2019 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Writer(s): Richard Rothstein & Christopher Leitch and Dean Devlin (written by)
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Ally Walker, Ed O’Ross, Jerry Orbach

Features: Audio Commentaries, Featurettes, Alternate Ending, Theatrical Trailer
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 2.40
Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C

Lionsgate provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.25/5

Plot Synopsis: Luc Deveraux (JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME) and Sgt. Andrew Scott (DOLPH LUNDGREN) are two soldiers who kill each other in Vietnam and are brought back to life 25 years later for a secret government program. Known as “Unisols,” they are genetically enhanced, unstoppable killing machines without memory, feelings, or free will. But when Deveraux’s memory starts to return and he escapes the program, with the help intrepid reporter Veronica Roberts (ALLY WALKER), a superhuman chase across the country begins.

Quick Hit Review: Universal Soldier, released July 1992, saw the pairing of a couple notables from the 1980s not named Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, in Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. The movie itself, which seemed to take more than a couple cues from The Terminator, feels a bit small even cheap at times, down to some of the laughable designs of the soldier’s eye pieces. Obviously director Roland Emmerich would try to make up for it later with Independence Day and Godzilla.

And even with some of the clumsy storytelling, including a finale that wasn’t all that thrilling, it still was a fun flick that at least doesn’t feel like something coming out of the 1990s (so no ‘rad’ music or score). What helped the film was the mana-a-mano between Van Damme and Lundgren who seemed to give it their all (the pair would re-unite with Universal Soldier: Regeneration in 2009 and then Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning in 2012, though they never shared the screen in that one.

Universal Soldier was directed by Roland Emmerich in what looks like his first big budget Hollywood film where he would follow it up with Stargate and Independence Day both of which were also written by this movie’s scriptwriter, Dean Devlin and made his own directorial debut in the awful 2017 disaster flick, Geostorm. Neither aspects, the direction or writing, were amazing, far from it., but they did achieve in making a fun, if not flawed, little action-thriller.



This release comes with a semi-glossy slip cover and inside a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. All of the features from previous releases, as best I could tell, have been ported over and are available on both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs.

Audio Commentaries:

  • Director Roland Emmerich, Writer Dean Devlin and Actors Jean-Claude Van Damme & Dolph Lundgrin
  • Director Roland Emmerich and Writer Dean Devlin

Presumably both of these were from the special edition DVD from years back (2004?) and while nothing special, do offer different viewpoints, though the first track the commentators were recorded separately (with Emmerich and Devlin talking together). The second one flows a bit better.

A Tale of Two Titans (14:12) looks at the first match-up between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgrin, including interviews with the two actors talking about their careers.

Guns, Genes and Fighting Machines (18:53) — Retrospective featurette from 2004 on the making of the movie with cast and crew interviews about the over-the-top nature of the action and fights.

Alternate Ending (13:08) — Pretty dark alt ending where Luc’s mother is shot in the back and subsequently, the father, who wasn’t his father, shoots him before Jerry Orbach’s character comes in to make revelation that Luc was set up all along. So this was truly an alternate ending…

Behind the Scenes (15:28) is a fly-on-the-wall featurette from 1991.

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)


VIDEO – 4.5/5

Lionsgate releases Universal Soldier onto 4K Ultra HD where it’s shown in the original theatrical 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 2160p high-definition transfer. The picture is actually pretty impressive, detail is sharp and although this isn’t the most colorful movie, as a fair portion does take place at night, especially the finale in pouring rain, colors are decent though not entirely bright. The natural film noise and grain is present, however, giving it a nice theatrical-like experience 25+ years later. I noticed no apparent or obvious signs of aliasing, artifacting or other flaws.

AUDIO – 3.0/5

Where the video excelled, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track was surprisingly weak to the point where I had to make sure my right speaker was properly working (even though before I had watched another movie where it was working fine), and it was outputting audio but oh so barely, same with the rears so depth wasn’t all that impressive. The center channel is relegated for the on-screen action and dialogue, the latter of which was fine but the usage of ADR was rather evident.


OVERALL – 3.25/5

Universal Soldier is a flawed film, even a little amateurish in some respects especially with the direction by Emmerich (from what I can tell, this was his first big Hollywood picture), but still a fun enough flick pairing up Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren who did as well as one would expect given the material. This 4K Ultra HD release does offer great video but the audio was lackluster and the good bonus material ported over from the previous releases.


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