Universal Soldier opens with maniacal Sergeant Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) – draped in a necklace made of ears he has sliced from the Vietnamese villagers he has just slaughtered – encountering the brave, idealistic Luc Devreux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who is appalled by the mini My Lai-style atrocity.
Good guy Luc and satanic Scott go mano a mano and – while the credits are still rolling – kill each other, are zipped into body bags and whisked out of the area so the massacre can be covered up.
The two soldiers are put on ice as part of a secret Pentagon program to create the ultimate strike force, along with other dead American soldiers. Then, via genetic engineering, they are transmuted into foot soldier terminators who have no recollection of their past lives.
Called ‘UniSols’, they are super warriors who can feel no pain, can swim 1½ miles in under four minutes, push a truck at 30mph or rappel at lightning speed down the steep slope of the Hoover Dam. Gaping bullet wounds in their bodies heal instantly.
At $250 million apiece, the UniSols are a bargain – much cheaper than a stealth bomber and smarter than even the smartest smart bomb. But the top-secret project stumbles when Luc goes awry after a fragmented memory of Vietnam surfaces like a piece of shrapnel in his carefully re-programmed consciousness.
At the same time, a snoopy TV reporter named Veronica (Ally Walker) stumbles onto the truth about the UniSol project. Veronica and Luc – who is beginning to realise how he has been turned into a modern Frankenstein’s monster – become accidental allies.
Authorities decide the couple has to be terminated to protect the secrecy of the project, and there’s no better terminator than Luc’s old rival, Sergeant Scott – toughest of the UniSols.
From there, the film focusses on Scott as the hunter and Luc and Veronica as the prey. All sorts of things are sensationally blown up, including a great looking gas station – a classic piece of Americana from the 1940s or 1950s.
But the demolition derby runs on ad nauseam until Luc and Scott have their inevitable showdown in a karate armageddon.
If you want to take a 98-minute soak in a visual bloodbath, then Universal Soldier will more than fill your tub with its bubbling gore awash with a stream of sucking chest wounds, mutilated limbs and skulls blown apart in summary executions.
For good measure, there are rarer blood-drenched ingredients including impalement, bayonetting and a carnivorous farm machine that dices up foolish mortals into ghoulish morsels.
Luc Devreux (GR44)
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Andrew Scott (GR13)
Dr Christopher Gregor
Tom Lister Jr.
Mrs John Devreux
Brenda the Waitress
Thomas Rosales Jr.