‘Universal Soldier’ Blu-ray Review
‘Universal Soldier’ 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. ‘Universal Soldier’ was a box office success with a total gross of $36 million dollars.
The story begins with both soldiers Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) and Luc Deveraux (Jean Claude Van Damme) 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 25 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. Luc’s memories are starting to come back from the Vietnam War about what a lunatic that Scott was killing innocent people. This sets the stage for Scott to go after Deveraux on one explosive ride.
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.
The print is presented in 1080p/VC-1 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. ‘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 was much cleaner and presented in anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen. The new Blu-ray transfer looks excellent for a film that is nearly 16 years old. The image is pristine from any dirt or specs to the print. Details are excellent bringing out strong and vivid colors. Blacks are deep holding very solid during any dark scenes. It is as if Lionsgate has brought this film back to life on Blu-ray and the 2004 DVD release was not a slouch either.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless mix. ‘Universal Soldier’ sounds very good taking advantage of the soundfield using front and rears to emulate dynamic sound. Guns blazing, explosions, vehicle collisions, and fight scenes sound very explosive. Dialogue is very clean through the center channel, but I found it to be a bit low which was a disappointment.
The special features are presented in standard definition. Even though the special features are in standard definition, picture quality still looks good. ‘Out of the Blu’ Advanced Trivia Track’ is neat as this is almost like a PIP where facts pop up throughout the entire film. ‘Guns, Genes and Fighting Machines’ – The Making of Universal Soldier is an excellent behind-the-scenes feature providing information as to how the film came to fruition and the production. ‘Tale of Two Titans’ – Featurette is also good as we get to learn about both Lundgren’s and Van Damme’s past and how they came to the United States.
- ‘Out of the Blu’ Advanced Trivia Track
- ‘Guns, Genes and Fighting Machines’ – The Making of Universal Soldier (19:00)
- ‘Tale of Two Titans’ – Featurette (14:13)
- Alternate Ending (13:08)
Another job well done by Lions Gate bringing an older action film to the Blu-ray format with superb video quality that will make you think twice if this is a newer release. 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. This is the only film in the series worth checking out, the sequels were horrid attempts to cashin on the success of the original.
|List Price: $28.95, Sale Price: $19.95 – Order from Amazon Universal Soldier [Blu-ray]|