Saturday, January 10, 2009

Trailer Trash XXVIII: Universal Soldier (1992)

"The ultimate weapons of the future have declared war... on each other!"

Hey, kids, it's Van Damme time again! [Ed. note: If you're looking for the 1967 album Universal Soldier by Donovan, look elsewhere.]

By 1992, Jean-Claude Van Damme was something of a international megastar. Movies such as Kickboxer and Bloodsport (as well as previous Trailer Trash subject Cyborg) had launched him into the spotlight, and his name was a modest box-office draw for the action crowd. The guy could churn out several action flicks a year and they all seemed to make money.

Sure, some people criticized him. They knocked his acting skills - called it stiff, called it lifeless. Sure, the guy could kick, but he wasn't going to win any Oscars. How would Hollywood make a movie that disguised Jean-Claude's faults? Some genius producer found the perfect solution to that problem: "Let's cast him as a zombie-robot!"

"You think Van Damme's acting is stiff? Well, robots are stiff! Are you calling him lifeless? Zombies are lifeless! And you know who are good kickboxers? Zombie-robots!"

Thus, Universal Soldier was born.

Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren play soldiers who manage to kill each other in Vietnam. Thirty years later the government re-animates them as semi-cyborgs and sends them on all kinds of dirty missions as part of the UniSol Program (which sounds more like the name of a cleaning product than anything). Most of the plot unfolds when the Universal Soldiers' old personalities start to emerge (Van Damme = cheeky do-gooder, Lundgren = dickweed) and the government loses control of them. Yes, that means LOTS of kickboxing.

At 0:14 - Sealed for freshness!
At 0:21 - Jerry Orbach in the role he'd always be remembered for.
At 0:23 - Avert your eyes. Avert your eyes!
At 0:54 - Van Damme emotes.
At 1:00 - They should keep some beer in that trunk.
At 1:18 - Damn, took long enough for him to start kicking stuff.
At 2:10 - BOOM!

"Are we having fun yet?"

Trailer Trash is a weekly tribute to oddball, cheesy and often just plain terrible movie trailers. Writers: These movies got made... so can yours! You can read through our archive by clicking here.