"Universal Soldier: The Return"
Directed by Mic Rodgers.
Written by William Malone and John Fasano.
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White and Goldberg.
Release Year: 1999
Review Date: 8/26/99
First off--Wysocki: tell your wife I
apologize, I forgot to bring her address home tonight! Please
forward to her again.
Also, recent SMR recruit Mike Nolan (no
nickname) went to see "The Matrix" this week, and his excitement
over what I am sure is now one of my favorite movies has gotten me
excited again. There won't be too many more chances for you to see
"The Matrix" in theaters, but if you haven't seen it yet and are
still on this mailing list, do us a favor and see this movie!
Well, as promised, I needed to see something
that I knew would be, ahem, less than respectable, and once again,
my boy Jean-Claude Van Damme delivers the goods!! "Universal
Soldier: The Return" is the sequel to the Van Damme / Dolph
Lundgren actioner from eons ago, and its storyline really doesn't
have much to do with the first one--that is, if you think there
actually was a story to the first one. This time around, Luc
Deveraux (Van Damme) must take on a renegade supercomputer that has
taken over a scientific military base in Texas. As you may
remember, universal soldiers are basically dead former soldiers
brought back to life by science to be superhuman fighting machines.
Somehow, in the first movie, Deveraux was killed in the line of
duty, brought back to life, and then made whole again by doctors
into a regular human being. So, he *knows* what it takes to be a "unisol!"
The point is simple: as Colonel Trautman
("Rambo" series) used to say, "Bring a lot of extra bodybags!" This
movie likes it gratuitous, and bodies are shot up, set on fire, hit
with live grenades, electrocuted, and in a total ripoff of
"Terminator 2" and "Demolition Man", carbon-frozen and shattered.
Not to mention that a lot of people get the shit kicked out of them,
mostly by Van Damme, the supercomputer's human form Seth (Michael
Jai White), and...GOLDBERG!! It's been a great year for non-actors,
and Goldberg brings home the goods here. Speaking of gratuitous,
THE most gratuitous scene of the summer exists in this movie:
Deveraux must get to a computer to check out something on the
Internet, and since the military base's power has been taken out by
Seth's gang, he drives off the base to...a strip club! A FUCKING
STRIP CLUB!!! And when he goes up to use a computer in one of the
offices of the club, there are two hookers there, sex-chatting to
customers over the phone--so while Deveraux's on the information
superhighway, you can hear the hookers in the background, saying
things like "Oh yeah, baby, does that make you hard?" This actually
happens in this movie!
So, by this point, you must be asking, "So,
was it bad or what?" Schmoove actually told me three times that he
just couldn't justify seeing a movie this bad, and all he had seen
was the preview. Let me turn that question on its head, then, and
ask you this: is a bad movie unwatchable? See, I always say that
the most fun I have at the movies is during the bad ones, and this
one is no exception. I invite you to watch Van Damme shout out some
absolutely ridiculous lines, and man, when his boss dies early on in
this movie, and he yells out "Dillon! NO!!!", man I wish you had
heard the laughter in the theater. Or when Van Damme pulls off this
down kick, Colleen, Gordon and I were all laughing hysterically. Or
when the requisite trik shows up (in this movie, a TV reporter) and,
although Van Damme and the trik initially hate each other, they
slowly come to love each other in the span of just 85 movie minutes,
you get to boo the screen with the 15 other theatergoers. Or how
four evil universal soldiers lay waste to a 1000-person Army Special
Forces unit with simple machine gun fire...twice!!
So, was it bad? Yes, but movies like
Wild West" were much worse because not only was there no script,
there was no fun to be had by the audience. And, if you think that
the preview for "Universal Soldier: The Return" looked bad, man,
you don't know SHIT, because we saw two previews tonight for movies
that look 8-12 times worse than this movie. The first was the Cuba
Gooding, Jr. vehicle "Chill Factor", with post-Oscar Cuba
playing--you guessed it!!--Loud, Screaming Black Guy in a movie that
looks like "Fled" but won't be out as long. (If you're asking
yourself, "What the hell is 'Fled'?", then I've done my job here.)
And then, the crème de la crème: a film by some production company
called Independent Artists called "Simon Sez"...starring Dennis
Rodman! Please, I can only hope that you get to see this preview,
because this movie has the potential to be worse than "Hard Vice",
as many of you now know to be the worst film ever made. Keep your
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard