Wednesday, April 23, 2008

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER AGAIN!... Return of the Bionic European Tough Guys!

The story broke on the net like a thunderclap from Odin himself. Okay, maybe not. But putting my love of these things clearly in the public eye, a guy can dream. Cinemablend has reported that Jean-Claude Van Damme may be gearing up for another UNIVERSAL SOLDIER sequel. This is not huge news, since Van Damme already did the sequel route in the gutbustingly awful UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN, a film that pretty much crushed any hopes Bill Goldberg had for crossover appeal ( not that those were very high ). No, the real news is that Van Damme's nemesis from the original, played by Dolph Lungren, may be joining him.

The first UNIVERSAL SOLDIER helped increase the reputation of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. It involved Vietnam vets who killed in action, listed missing, and then awakened as bionic super-soldiers decades later to do wetwork for the government. Two of the Universal Soldiers go off the reservation when they become sentient of their previous lives. Van Damme was a heroic soldier who just wanted to go home, but got killed trying to destroy Lundgren, his platoon leader who went insane and wiped out a village as well as his own soldiers. Now, as Van Damme tries to piece his life together, Lundgren aims to finish the fight, leading the other Universal Soldiers, now under his command, to help him out. Yes, younger generation, you read that right. And doesn't that sound so much cooler than the standard, "thugs try to steal money but cross the wrong security guard"-type action film we would expect these days?

Okay, so UNIVERSAL SOLDIER wasn't quite as great as its premise. It was a lot of fun, however, and it hurt to see the promise of an entertaining franchise get squandered.

Not that they haven't tried. UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: THE RETURN may have been bad, but it was the second attempt to resurrect the series. Two obscure straight-to-video titles, UNIVERSAL SOLIDER II: BROTHERS IN ARMS and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER III: UNFINISHED BUSINESS ( I have not personally seen those latter two films ) were even smaller affairs, and featured different actors.

Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin will not be returning for the latest UNIVERSAL SOLDIER film. If anyone has seen the stuff they've been putting out lately, that can only be a good thing. It is expected to go straight-to-DVD and is in the early stages of pre-production.

People may be interested to note that Van Damme has an intriguing genre-bending French film coming out, JCVD. Those are his intials for the extra-drowsy out there. It is, no kidding, one of my most awaited films this year. Thanks to the guys at JoBlo and Arrow In the Head for posting the trailer.

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