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Universal Soldier is a 1992 science fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren as soldiers who kill each other in Vietnammarker but are reanimated in a secret Army project along with a large group of other previously dead soldiers.

Production

The film was followed by two television movie sequels in 1998 — Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business — with an all new cast.

In 1999, a theatrical sequel, Universal Soldier: The Return, ignored the television films, with only Van Damme returning from the original film.

This was the last film encoded in Cinema Digital Sound.

Deveraux's code number GR44 is a reference to director Roland Emmerich's first film Moon 44.

Most of the film was shot in Arizona. The Vietnamese jungle and village scenes were shot on a golf course in Clarkdale, Arizonamarker. Some exterior scenes were shot on location at the Hoover Dammarker and Clarkdale, Arizonamarker.

At the 1992 Cannes film festival, Van Damme and Lundgren were involved in a verbal altercation that almost turned physical when both men pushed each other only to be separated. On his website, Dolph Lundgren confirmed that it was just a publicity stunt to promote the film.

Universal Soldier is Rated R for strong graphic violence and for strong language.

The original script included a voice-over announcement that Devereaux had died several days after the end of the film.

Plot

Near the end of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, an American military squad receives orders to secure a village against North Vietnamese forces. Pvt. Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) comes to find the members of his squad and various villagers dead with their ears missing. His comrade in arms, Sgt. Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) is the cause of this, having gone murderously insane. Deveraux finds that Scott, while holding up a string of severed ears, is also holding a young boy and girl hostage. Deveraux tries to reason with Scott, saying that the war is over. Scott becomes infuriated and shoots the boy in front of him, then orders Deveraux to shoot the girl in order to prove his loyalty.

Deveraux refuses and stops Scott from shooting the girl. The girl attempts to escape, but Scott throws a grenade at her, killing her. Luc and Scott shoot each other and both are killed. The next morning, a U.S. Special Forces squad finds their bodies and the commanding officer of the squad gives the medics orders to "bag their bodies in ice."

Jumping to modern day, terrorists have taken over the Hoover Dammarker and the police agencies are ordered not to intervene or make any attempt to rescue the hostages. Instead, the Universal Soldiers (or "UniSols"), an elite counter terrorism unit, are called with Deveraux (now designated "GR44") and Scott (now designated "GR13") among this team. They apparently have been revived with no memory of their previous lives. Deveraux has flashbacks of his previous life, including a deleted scene in which he meets a Vietnamese bar girl at a Vietnamese bar called "LUCKY'S".

Deveraux and Scott are sent in to dispatch several of the terrorists, with Deveraux using efficient means, but Scott using excessive force. Their camera feeds sent back to the command post garners concern with the project technicians, suggesting that despite being emotional blank slates, Scott is actually enjoying it. As the UniSols infiltrate the area, they demonstrate their superior training and physical abilities, as one of them (Ralf Moeller as GR74) is shown surviving close-range automatic gunfire.

After the area is secured, Deveraux begins to regain memory from his former life after seeing two of the hostages who resemble the villagers he tried to save back in Vietnam. Turning around, he looks upon the face of Scott (who is also experiencing the same memory) but as a Unisol, he doesn't say anything. This causes him to ignore radio commands from the control team.

Back in the mobile command center, the Unisol technician team are trying to figure out what happened at the Hoover Dam incident. They reveal that the UniSols have enhanced healing abilities and superior strength but also have a tendency to overheat and shut down. It is also revealed that they are given a neural serum to keep their minds under control and their previous memories suppressed. All of the UniSols are then ordered to go back into their cooling units and inject themselves with the serum. As a result of the glitch, Woodward (Leon Rippy), one of the technicians on the project, feels it may be better to remove Scott and Deveraux from the team until they can be further analyzed. But Colonel Perry (Ed O'Ross), the commander in charge, tells them that the mission will proceed as planned.

TV news journalist Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker) is attempting to get a story on the UniSol project in an attempt to be reinstated at her job, having previously been fired while covering the Hoover Dam incident. After speaking with representatives from the project, she receives evasive answers. She later sneaks onto the base with a camera to investigate the project further only to discover the body of a damaged UniSol who appears to be fatally wounded, but is still alive.

While attempting to escape, Deveraux and Scott are ordered to bring her back. She escapes to the car of her cameraman, but when the Unisols pursue, they cause the car to crash and overturn. Scott mercilessly executes the cameraman and Deveraux again intervenes, preventing him from shooting Roberts. They both escape in a UniSol vehicle.

After escaping, Scott mumbles to himself softly about Deveraux being a traitor, but none of the Unisol team realize it. Colonel Perry resolves to chase the reporter and Deveraux across country to prevent knowledge of the UniSols from getting out, not only to the public, but to the American government, as the nature of project is unknown by the Pentagon.

As Deveraux and Roberts hide out and attempt to get evidence of the UniSol program to the media, Roberts turns on the television to learn that she is now being framed for the murder of her cameraman. As the UniSol team is dispatched, Scott's previous personality begins to emerge, causing him to kill innocents. As the technicians realize what is happening, they attempt to stop him, only to be killed themselves. Scott then takes over the rest of the UniSol team.

Deveraux and Roberts travel around as Roberts tries to dig up more information about the UniSol program. They meet Dr. Gregor (Jerry Orbach), the originator of the program, who reveals the history of the project. Deveraux learns more of his past and wants to go home to meet his family in Louisiana.

After Deveraux reunites with his family, Scott tracks them down and takes his family and Roberts hostage. A brutal fight ensues, and Scott's use of muscle enhancers enables him to mercilessly beat Deveraux. Roberts manages to escape from her bonds only to be seemingly killed by a grenade thrown by Scott. Scott continues to dominate Deveraux until he obtains the muscle enhancers Scott used and injects himself with one. With their strengths now evenly matched, Deveraux is able to fight back and manages to impale Scott on the spikes of a hay harvester. Deveraux then finishes Scott by starting the machine up which grinds him up. Finally, Deveraux checks on Roberts, who survived the explosion though wounded and the two embrace.

Casting



Alternate ending

The Special Edition DVD release features an alternate ending which takes place shortly after Scott takes Deveraux's family and Roberts hostage. As Deveraux grabs a shotgun in the kitchen, the front door opens and he sees his mother before Scott shoots her to death. In the final fight between Deveraux and Scott, Deveraux does not use Scott's muscle enhancers. Shortly after grinding Scott to death, Deveraux is shot by his father before Dr. Gregor and his men appear.

Dr. Gregor explains that he had Deveraux set up to get to him and Scott, and that Deveraux was living with people posing as his parents. He then has his men shoot down Deveraux. But before Deveraux dies, police and Roberts' news crew arrive. The news crew douse Deveraux with a fire extinguisher to stabilize him while Dr. Gregor and his men are arrested. Roberts is given the microphone to cover the arrest, but she loses all composure while on the air, dropping the microphone to comfort Deveraux.

Several days later, Deveraux is reunited with his real parents. The film ends with a eulogy narrated by Roberts, who explains that Deveraux rejected all life-prolonging medications before dying a natural death.

Reception

Universal Soldier opened in theaters on July 10, 1992 where it grossed $10,057,084 from 1916 theaters with a $5,249 per screen average and taking the 2nd spot. From there, it made $36,299,898 in US ticket sales, becoming a moderate hit. Overseas, it was much more popular, mostly opening at #1, making over $65 million overseas, which earned the film a total of $102 million worldwide, on a $23 million budget.

Mainstream critics dismissed the movie as a Terminator 2 clone, or as a typical, mindless action film. It was poorly received by other critics, and now holds a 23% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes (2008).

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