Welcome to 90 from the ‘90s; the movie-related post in which I watch, discuss and debate a film from the 1990s – a film that I’ve NEVER SEEN. Posting on a semi-regular basis, I aim to work my way through 90 movies that I’ve previously missed/avoided, recording my thoughts along the way.
I’m going to watch good films, bad films, forgotten classics, Oscar winners and everything in between. Some of these films you’ll be surprised I’ve never seen, others you’ll completely understand why I’ve avoided them for 20+ years.
The rules are as follows:
- The film must be from the 1990s (1990-1999)
- The film must be a movie I’ve not watched before
Today’s (2nd) unseen ‘90s movie (as I watched Passenger 57 this morning) is…
Universal Soldier (1992)
This is the second Jean-Claude Van Damme movie within my 90 from the ’90s series and yes, you are reading this correctly, I HAVE NEVER WATCHED UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. Never, ever.
No real explanation. The movie has cropped up on TV numerous times over the years, but every time I notice it’s on, the film is already partway through so I choose not to watch it. There’s really no more to it than that.
As for what I know about the movie – I know that Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are the stars; that Independence Day director Roland Emmerich directs; and that the movie is a sci-fi action film. I feel like the story has something to do with reanimated soldiers, but I could be wrong.
Oh, and I also know there are a number of sequels to Universal Soldier, but at least one of the sequels is not considered a ‘proper sequel’ even though it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme. I know this thanks to my years working at a video rental store.
Let’s do this.
*Clicks the play button*
1min 10secs – ‘A Roland Emmerich movie’. Oh you just know there’s going to be shit loads of explosions in this film. And maybe a natural disaster or two.
1min 30secs – Bam! Jean-Claude Van Damme is onscreen. This is a movie that gives the audience what it wants from the get-go.
4mins – Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are in Vietnam, having a disagreement. Lundgren is suffering from the trauma of the Vietnam War. He’s trying to convey an important message, but at the same time he has a necklace made of human ears. It’s difficult to see this guy’s point of view when he has a necklace made of human ears! Plus, he’s just blown someone up with a hand grenade. We’re not dealing with a full deck here.
6mins 30secs – Er… I think Dolph and Jean-Claude have just killed each other. Wow. This was a seriously short movie.
8mins 25secs – Jean-Claude Van Damme’s name appears on screen, as his body is zipped up in a body bag.
8mins 30secs – Dolph Lundgren’s name appears on screen, as his body is also zipped up a body bag. I hope this doesn’t happen every time a character is killed off, otherwise we’ll be here all day.
11mins 30secs – Van Damme and Lundgren are back! Blimey, that was quick. Oh, only they look a bit like zombies. That’s not a comment on their acting skills, I think they’re supposed to look like zombies.
18mins – There’s a hostage situation, a lot of gunfire and possibly a bomb. It would appear that Van Damme and Lundgren are part of a super soldier rescue team. Oh and they appear to be better looking versions of Robocop.
19mins – Yeah, Van Damme’s having flashbacks, just like Robocop. This re-animation programme is not 100% effective.
26mins – Brainwashing or no brainwashing these guys look cool.
27mins – Oh… Lundgren’s still a psycho. He’s just killed a member of the press which has caused Van Damme to go on the run with the other member of the press. If I didn’t mention it – and I know I didn’t – the press are looking into this super soldier programme. One is now dead. The other is not.
32mins – This film has shades of both Robocop and Terminator. Back in 1992, this would have been a bad thing; but now it’s great. Who wouldn’t want to watch a Robocop/Terminator mash-up?
35mins 30secs – Nudity! Van Damme has just flashed his buttocks.
36mins – He’s done it again!
36mins 30secs – And again.
37mins 30secs – It’s just been noted that Van Damme can heal wounds. He’s bloody Wolverine! This film is now a Robocop/Terminator/Wolverine movie – AND WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT?
46mins 30secs – Van Damme has got naked again. No buttocks this time, but there might as well be.
53mins 30secs – Lundgren seems to have remembered who he was, prior to being turned into a super soldier. I wonder if he remembers killing Apollo Creed? Or that time he teamed up with Courtney Cox to fight Skeletor?
58mins 30secs – Lundgren has another necklace made of ears. Or possibly the same necklace of ears that he had at the start of the movie. I wonder if he has ear-earrings to match? Well, you might as well have the set.
1hr – I’m more than half-way through this movie and while there’s been a fair bit of action, there’s been no natural disasters. What kind of Roland Emmerich movie is this?
1hr 2mins 30secs – Van Damme is in a restaurant and is currently involved in a dispute over his inability to pay for a meal. He solves this ‘dispute’ by high-kicking the chef/owner, as well as a number of customers. He’s clearly in the wrong (always pay for your meals, kids), but I’m still cheering him on. I mean, haven’t we all wanted to high-kick our way out of Nando’s?
1hr 8mins 30secs – Jerry Orbach has just turned up! If you’re not sure who Jerry Orbach is, you’d probably recognise him as Baby’s father from the movie Dirty Dancing. I’d like to think that Universal Soldier is set in the same universe as Dirty Dancing. Somewhere, there’s a re-animated Baby busting out dance moves, shooting the shit out of people and generally having the time of her life.
1hr 16mins 30secs – Jeez, Van Damme is in a police van now and it’s being shot to pieces. Universal Soldier seems to be borrowing from The Gauntlet.
1hr 19mins – And/or possibly Mad Max and Duel.
1hr 23mins – Van Damme is reunited with his parents… who seem surprisingly calm about the whole dead/re-animated thing.
1hr 28mins – Lundgren has turned up and has tied everyone up (except Van Damme). It’s now Van Damme V Lundgren. Who do you think will win?
1hr 31mins – There’s around ten minutes left and the film has entered the ‘dramatic conclusion in the rain’ scene. I bloody love a good ‘dramatic conclusion in the rain scene’. It’s my favourite part!
1hr 32mins – It needs to be noted that Lundgren is EXCELLENT in this movie.
1hr 33mins – Yeah, Van Damme’s alright too.
1hr 35mins 30secs – Lundgren has just been impaled on some farming equipment. *Cough* I think he got the point.
1hr 36mins 30secs – SHIT THE BED! Van Damme has just put Lundgren through a hay machine, which has just chopped him up into little pieces. Van DAMN son – that was brutal!
1hr 37mins – Lundgren’s dead, so Van Damme casually unties his parents… who seem to be OK with the whole situation. They’re still not at all freaked out by the fact their son is alive or the fact that their son’s arch nemesis is currently spread out across their lawn. That’s some good parenting.
While Universal Soldier is derivative of other (better) movies, it is still a heck of a lot of fun – perhaps even more so 26 years on. As with Timecop, the movie keeps things simple; keeps Van Damme in a position where he can excel in the action department; and keeps the pace up. If I had watched Universal Solider back in ’92, when I was just 11-years-old, I think I would have loved it! Although, my mother would NOT have let me watch the bit where Lundgren gets chopped up.
Dumb, but fun.
11 down; 79 to go.
For past entries in the 90 from the ’90s series, check out: Passenger 57 (1992), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), The Client (1994), Good Will Hunting (1997), Pump Up the Volume (1990), Mr. Nanny (1993), Fargo (1996), Hudson Hawk (1991), So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) and Timecop (1994).