Action Movie Fanatix Review: Universal Soldier: The Return

Universal Soldier The Return banner

Prepare To Become Obsolete.

Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Bill Goldberg, Kiana Tom, Daniel Von Bargen, Xander Berkeley, Heidi Schanz, Justin Lazard, Sylvester Terkay

Director: Mic Rodgers

1999  |  83 Minutes  |  Rated R

“Hello Dr. Cotner… I’m ready when you are.  But, on the other hand… Fuck you!” – S.E.T.H.

I always feel the need to be honest when I am not going to be completely 100% objective in a review.  Universal Soldier: The Return is probably going to be one of those times.  I was a very big wrestling fan at the time of its original release and LOVED that Bill Goldberg was going toe to toe with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), the aging Universal Soldier is thrown back into action when S.E.T.H. (Michael Jai White), the supercomputer controlling the new breed of UniSols, decides to take revenge on its creators.

Universal Soldier: The Return is the silly sequel to the original Universal Soldier.  It ignores Universal Soldier 2: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier 3: Unfinished Business and forges ahead as if they never happened, which would normally be a great idea except the tone of The Return is more in line with those silly sequels than it is with the original or the two sequels that followed many years later.

The Universal Soldier program seems to have changed a bit from the first movie.  The UniSols have seemingly found personalities.  They spout one liners, laugh and smile.  Luc Deveraux now feels joy and pain and even has a daughter.

There’s also a rather wimpy looking balding UniSol in the program.  I know a receding hairline doesn’t in and of itself imply weakness but it certainly doesn’t make for the most intimidating looking antagonist.

Now Bill Goldberg at least had the good sense to shave his head when he started losing hair so when we see his snarling UniSol, Romeo, coming after Luc Deveraux he actually feels like a legitimate threat and the future of the UniSol program.  And of course Goldberg’s signature spear move is incorporated into the fights once or twice.

I don’t know… the action in Universal Soldier: The Return isn’t as good as the original, Regeneration or the amazing Day of Reckoning but it is most certainly better than the two quasi-sequels.  It does enough to get by.

I have to at least briefly address the theme song of the movie.  Megadeth’s “Crush ‘Em.”  Megadeth isn’t normally my cup of tea but this song was pounded into my head weekly as Goldberg made his way down to the WCW ring.  Megadeth even performed it live on an episode of Nitro (or maybe Thunder… it’s been a while).

Universal Soldier: The Return really isn’t a great movie.  It’s certainly a low point in the series considering the awesome beginning of the series and the two most recent sequels.  All things considered, I still enjoy it for what it is and what it was in my youth.

3 thoughts on “Action Movie Fanatix Review: Universal Soldier: The Return

  1. I remember really enjoying this one. I especially love Michael Jai White who looks just JACKED! Awesome actor to portray a machine. He would be good in a Terminator film as well. My biggest gripe was that Van Damme felt and looked more human than machine in this one. His character just seemed out of place. Other than that, I actually had fun with it.

    • For the right person (myself included) it’s still definitely an enjoyable film.

      Michael Jai White was pretty sweet as S.E.T.H. There was a rumor floating around prior to the release of Day of Reckoning that he would be in the cast. Unfortunately he wasn’t but it would have been pretty cool to have him in there.

      • Yeah, I actually remember seeing behind the scenes photos of him and Scott Adkins. Not sure if he was just visiting the set, or he filmed scenes that were actually cut from the film?

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