‘Universal Soldier’ Special Edition DVD Review
With the Blu-ray version on the horizon of ‘Universal Soldier’ sometime in 2008, this past weekend I decided to watch the DVD version. It has been a few years since I last saw ‘Universal Soldier’ and this is one of the those action movies from the 90’s that still holds up well here in 2008. We have Jean Claude Van Damme the action star of the later 80’s/early 90’s and Dolph Lundgren who rose to a bit of fame off of his role as the Russian in ‘Rocky IV’. When you pair both Van Damme and Lundgren you get one of the most enjoyable mindless action movies from the 90’s.
The story begins with both soldiers Scott and Luc in the Vietnam War that end up not making it out alive. What becomes even more interesting is that the government takes their bodies and keeps them in a cryo state for years until the ‘Universal Soldier’ program goes into effect. These aren’t any ordinary soldiers, they are super soldiers also called ‘UniSols’ which is short for ‘Universal Soldier’. To make matters worse, there is a reporter Victoria that gets herself involved and on the hunt by the ‘UniSols’ when she spies on their camp. At this point, Luc whose memories are starting to come back from the Vietnam War about what a lunatic that Scott was killing innocent people.
This is one of those action films that is always moving at 100 miles per hour throughout and never lets up. It begins from the opening scene with the Vietnam War all the way to the final battle between Scott and Luc. ‘Universal Soldier’ is also a film where you have to set aside reality and just enjoy what is being presented to us. I have enjoyed all of Van Damme’s films from earlier in his career, but haven’t had a chance to see any of the ones he has worked on in the last 8 or 9 years. Where you may not get top notch acting, you will get some of the better action sequences. Lundgren also adds wisecracking comments throughout the film that will make you die of laughter coming from a man that has always played roles where he is a lunatic or maniac.
‘Universal Soldier’ was originally available on DVD by Live Entertainment, and that disc had a host of issues with the image. In 2004, Lions Gate released an updated Special Edition of the DVD where the print is much cleaner and presented in anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen. There are some specs of dirt in this version of the DVD that remain, but nowhere near the amount of from the original DVD release. This version of ‘Universal Soldier’ and for a film from 1992 actually looks rather good on DVD. That will only mean that we will receive a visual treat when this hits Blu-ray.
There are also two sound mixes here for ‘Universal Soldier’, a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Sound mix and a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix. The DD 5.1 sounds very well using all front and rears. The action sounds very explosive and the dialogue is excellent coming from the center which is very clean.
Another job well done by Lions Gate on a standard DVD release that proves when a studio takes the time and effort into delivering film on DVD, they can do a great job. If you are a fan of Jean Claude Van Damme, I highly recommend viewing ‘Universal Soldier’ or if you are looking for a night of mindless action this is the film for you. I can’t wait to see how this film is presented on Blu-ray once it is transferred without compression and a PCM lossless soundtrack.