In 1992, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren high-kicked their way into cinemas with the sci-fi action movie, Universal Soldier. The film, about reanimated super soldiers, was a hit with audiences and kick-started a long-running movie series.

But the Universal Soldier film series grew to become somewhat of a complicated beast, with multiple entries that contradicted each other. Some of these entries included Van Damme and Lundgren, some did not, and collectively they developed into a minefield for newcomers.

Keen to clear up all the confusion, I am presenting an easy-to-follow run-through of the viewing orders for the Universal Soldier movie series. So, if you want to dive into the series, but are a little unsure of the correct paths to take, I can help you out.

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How many Universal Soldier movies are there?

Image: ©TriStar Pictures

OK, before explaining the different viewing orders and timelines for the Universal Solider movie series, let’s first address how many films there are.

To date, there are six entries in the Universal Soldier movie series. The Universal Soldier movies are as follows:

  • Universal Soldier (1992)
  • Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998)
  • Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (1998)
  • Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)
  • Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)

Those are the movies, now let’s break them down into viewing orders.

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What is the order of the Universal Soldier movies?

Image: ©TriStar Pictures

The Universal Soldier movies can be confusing. As the series has progressed, the different production teams have taken different approaches to the material, often ignoring what has come before to establish a new continuity, and this means the series has hit the reset button on more than one occasion.

If you wish to view the movies in any semblance of order, it is best to break the series down into three different timelines.

First Universal Soldier timeline

Image: ©Showtime

This first timeline begins with 1992’s Universal Soldier, which stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Luc Deveraux and Dolph Lundgren as Andrew Scott. The series then continues with two television movie sequels released in 1998, this time with Matt Battaglia taking over the role of Deveraux and Andrew Jackson appearing as Scott.

The entries in Timeline One include:

  • Universal Soldier (1992)
  • Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998)
  • Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (1998)

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Second Universal Soldier timeline

Image: ©TriStar Pictures

This second timeline also begins with 1992’s Universal Soldier, but this time continues with Universal Soldier: The Return, ignoring the events of the two TV movies (aka Universal Solider II & III). Jean-Claude Van Damme reprises the role of Luc Deveraux, but Lundgren sits this one out.

The entries in Timeline Two include:

  • Universal Soldier (1992)
  • Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)

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Third Universal Soldier timeline

Image: ©Sony Pictures

For the third timeline, 1992’s Universal Soldier once again provides the starting point, but the series now chooses to ignore Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998), Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (1998), and Universal Soldier: The Return (1999). Instead, the timeline continues with Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning – both of which star Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren.

The entries in Timeline Three include:

  • Universal Soldier (1992)
  • Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)

The Universal Soldier timelines seem a bit hectic, and I guess they are, but if you break them down into different groups, they are fairly easy to navigate. Ultimately, the movies are the work of various directors and different studios, and as all of the creative teams had different visions and end goals the series has become a little convoluted.

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Who are the directors of the Universal Soldier movie series?

Image: ©Sony Pictures

Roland Emmerich directed Universal Solider, while Jeff Woolnough directed Universal Solider II & III. Mic Rodgers directed Universal Solider: The Return, while John Hyams directed Universal Solider: Regeneration and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.

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What is the best Universal Solider movie?

Image: ©Sony Pictures

According to IMDb Universal Soldier is the best received entry in the series. The movies are ranked in order from best to least-best as follows:

  • Universal Soldier (1992) – 6.0/10
  • Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) – 5.2/10
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012) – 5.0/10
  • Universal Soldier: The Return (1999) – 4.2/10
  • Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (1998) – 3.2/10
  • Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998) – 3.0/10
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I hope this information about the Universal Soldier film series has proved useful. Should you wish to read more movie-related posts, please check out the recommended reads below where you will find information on other much-loved movies.

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