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Universal Soldier is a 1992 action film directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. It kick-started a series that now encompasses five films(but only two are canon)
Universal Soldier begins in 1969, during The Vietnam War. Private Luc Devreaux (Van Damme) having finished his tour, is leaving when he finds out that his Sergeant, Andrew Scott (Lundgren), has killed his entire platoon and taken hostages. Devreaux confronts the Sergeant and attempts to talk him down, only to fail, resulting in the deaths of the hostages. Devreaux attacks the Sergeant and the two men kill each other. Their deaths are covered up, and they are entered into the "UniSol" program. Twenty-three years later, Devreaux and Scott are "universal soldiers"–cybernetic Super Soldiers. After a successful mission and an encounter with a reporter (Ally Walker as Veronica Roberts), Devreaux begins to have flashbacks to Vietnam and remembers fragments of his past life...but so does Scott. The film did not garner critical praise, but today is recognized as a cult classic.
In 1998, the film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels: Universal Soldier II: Brothers In Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. Brothers In Arms has the UniSol program being used by mercenaries to smuggle diamonds, while Unfinished Business has Devreaux helping Veronica Roberts to clear her name, while Devreaux's brother is being cloned and turned into a new UniSol. These sequels featured none of the original cast or crew and are largely considered to be worse than the first film.
Brothers In Arms and Unfinished Business were retconned in 1999 with the theatrical release of Universal Soldier: The Return. The Return features...the return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in the lead role. This sequel has Luc Devreaux working to create a newer, more advanced group of UniSols, all connected to an Artifical Intelligence dubbed "SETH". When the program is threatened with budget cuts, SETH attacks those it deems a threat to it and the program, forcing Devreaux to fight and shut it down.
Yet another Retcon came in the form of Universal Soldier: Regeneration, released direct-to-DVD in 2010. This film brings back Dolph Lundgren as Andrew Scott and reunites him with Van Damme as Devreaux. Devreaux, in therapy after the events of the first film, is called on to defuse a hostage situation at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, where a more advanced UniSol is under control of a group of Russian terrorists. Regeneration received decent reviews, and plans to make a fourth film (in 3D, no less!) are underway.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: SETH in Return.
- Ax Crazy: Andrew Scott. Very, very, very much so.
- Badass Normal: Burke in Regeneration. He holds his own against the NGU, something the other UniSols had trouble with!
- Battle Strip
- Blade Below the Shoulder: The NGU in Regeneration sports one.
- Blond Guys Are Evil
- Canon Dis Continuity: The made-for-TV sequels and Return.
- Creepy Souvenir: Andrew Scott wears a necklace of human ears at the start of the film.
- Cloning Blues: How Scott returns in Regeneration. And how Burke might return in the next sequel.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul
- Danger Takes a Backseat: Scott pulls this in the first movie.
- Diner Brawl
- Dragon Their Feet: Romeo in The Return.
- Dueling Stars Movie: It's Jean-Claude Van Damme vs. Dolph Lundgren! It was The Expendables of its time!
- The Return featured Van Damme vs. Bill Goldberg at the height of WCW's popularity.
- Failsafe Failure: Scott in Regeneration.
- Flashback Echo
- Hand Cannon: The UniSols' uses .357 Magnum Desert Eagles.
- Human Popsicle
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Done three times in Regeneration. Once against an unnamed UniSol, again against Andrew Scott, and finally against the NGU. It doesn't work.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: All the unimportant UniSols graduated at the top of their class.
- Intrepid Reporter: Veronica Roberts is implied to be this, though we never get to see the big scoops she got.
- Erin Young in Return
- Kill It with Fire: Van Damme does this in the first film. UniSols need their temperature to be monitored constantly: If it gets too high, they shut down.
- Large Ham: Lundgren, once he regains his memory in the first film.
- Laser Sight: Attached to most of the UniSols' weapons.
- More Dakka: Courtesy of Andrew Scott and his M60 in the first film.
- Next Sunday AD / Twenty Minutes Into the Future: A rare case where both tropes apply, as both theatrical movies are set in the same year of release (1992 and 1999)... but with cyborg zombie supersoldiers.
- One-Man Army: Devreaux becomes one at the climax of Regeneration.
- The Oner: The director of Regeneration seems fond of long tracking shots, but the best example is when Devreaux infiltrates Chernobyl at the end.
- The Other Darrin
- Revenge of the Sequel
- Running Gag: "I hate that guy!" in Return.
- Smug Snake
- Super Soldiers: UniSols are a composure of Bio Augmentation and Cyborging.
- Terminator Twosome
- Third Time's the Charm: It takes Deveraux three times to finally convince NGU to fight him in Regeneration.
- Trash Landing
- Vietnam War
- Villainous Valor: The terrorist leader in Regeneration.
- We Can Rebuild Him
- Western Terrorists