UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 4K / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ROLAND EMMERICH / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD ROTHSTEIN, CHRISTOPHER LEITCH, DEAN DEVLIN / STARRING: JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME, DOLPH LUNDGREN, ALLY WALKER, ED O’ROSS, JERRY ORBACH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Special Features: Two audio commentary tracks / Three featurettes / Alternate ending / Trailer
As more and more old favourites continue to get the 4K treatment, up next to join the Ultra HD revolution is 1992’s Universal Soldier. So, is this new release of a 27-year-old movie worth your time, or is this just a cash-in that offers nothing new to this action offering? Let’s take a look.
Without lingering too much on the plot of a picture that’s been around for so many years, the loose premise of Universal Soldier initially sees Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and his Vietnam War senior Andrew Scott (Lundgren) fight to the death after Scott has lost the plot and gone rogue. Jumping ahead, we see both fallen warriors brought back to life as part of a secret government regime designed to turn former soldiers into merciless, memoryless government killing machines. To throw a spanner into the works, though, Deveraux and Scott soon start to regain figments of their memories and hatred for one another, and the two are destined for one last showdown before all is said and done.
To say Universal Soldier is an all-time classic would be a major overstatement, yet this is an action film that’s very much an enjoyable one when taken on its own merits. The movie also serves as a time capsule of what the landscape of the action genre in the ‘90s often looked like. Cringe-inducing dialogue? Tick. Lots of shit being blown up? Double tick. Flexing of muscles as the stars of the day indulge in a display of cinematic cock-fighting? Triple tick.
The star of the show here, however, is undoubtedly the new 4K transfer of Universal Soldier. It seems almost obvious to say that Roland Emmerich’s ’92 film has never looked better, but that is clearly the case here. In particular, the movie’s more dimly-lit, darker moments benefit from the 4K treatment in a way that adds a whole host of new clarity and crispness to some scenes that previously may have been a little too dark to properly shine.
Elsewhere on this Studiocanal release, there are a couple of pieces of bonus content – all of which have been seen previously. That said, these special features are nevertheless still fun, particularly the kitsch ‘of its time’ A Tole of Titans featurette that looks at Universal Soldier’s two headlining stars. Then, there’s also the inclusion of the standard Blu-ray release of the film to accompany the sharp 4K version.
To answer our initial question, then, is this new release of Universal Soldier worth shilling out for? If you’re a fan of Van Damme, Lundgren, or the whole cheese levels often served up by those early ‘90s actioners and are looking to upgrade your collection amidst the 4K wave we’re currently riding, then this release will tick plenty of boxes.