Universal Soldier (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=123031&d=1225183552
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

83






Studio and Year: LionsGate - 1992
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 102 Minutes
Genre: Action

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: VC-1
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Alley Walker, Ed O'Ross, Jerry Orbach
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Music by: Christopher Franke
Written by: Richard Rothstein, Christopher Leitch, Dean Devlin
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 4, 2008







"The ultimate weapons of the future have just declared waron each other"



Film Synopsis:

Luc Devreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Sgt. Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) are two soldiers who kill each other in Vietnam and are brought back to life 25 years later for a secret government program. Known as "Unisols," they are genetically enhanced, unstoppable killing machines without memory, feelings or free will. But when Devreaux's memory starts to return and he escapes the program, a superhuman chase across the country begins.



My Take:

I can clearly remember the days when Jean-Claude Van Damme was the toast of all that was action. That seems like a long time ago now. Personally I was never a big fan but I didn't find the films of his that I saw objectionable. The first movie I saw Dolph Lundgren in was Rocky IV. He was physically imposing but I didn't find him particularly appealing onscreen. Apparently the impression held true because this review was only the second film that I have seen him and my opinion hasn't changed. I remember when this movie was in theaters and I had no desire to see it then. I guess I have been spoiled by some of the better action based films that I have seen. While I don't expect great acting performances I would prefer it if bad actors didn't overact. Both Lungren and Van Damme tried way too hard to add dramatic elements to their characters. The result was that their dialogue came off as cheesy and disingenuous. The story is built around two Vietnam Vets that kill one another years earlier whose bodies are recovered by the government. They are turned into mindless, genetically enhanced super soldiers who have no recollection of their past life. Deveraux (Vann Damme), begins to have flashbacks of the events that transpired just prior to his death. He sees Scott (Lundgren) as an adversary (because he remembers Scott shooting him) during an assignment and overrides his protocol by rescuing the intended target and escaping with her. To that point it wasn't bad but then it just goes south. Suddenly Scott begins have to recollections of his own about the past incident. He inexplicably begins a one man campaign to capture Deveraux and his female companion. Along the way there are plenty of explosions, gunplay, and of course Van Damme showing off his naked butt right in the lens of the camera. The climactic hand to hand battle is predictably corny but does include some laugh out loud lines delivered by Lundgren. I assume that it was meant to be humorous because if not it's a shame that someone wasted their time trying to make it anything else. Some action films are timeless but this isn't one of them as it felt very dated. I have to give credit where it is due though because this film does blow lots of stuff up and features enough gadgetry to keep buffs happy. It's hard to believe that this was the type of action film that moviegoers were serious about even back in the day.





Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong graphic violence, partial nudity, and language.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 80



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692



Video: 86


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Universal Soldier comes to Blu-ray Disc from LionsGate featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.3 mbps.

The video quality was excellent as it boasts vibrant colors with rich tonal delineation and clean rendering. Images are crisply detailed with deep visual penetration and consistently definitive sharpness. Long range camera shots, such as those shot during the rescue at the dam, exhibited high level detail and vivid colors that were impressive. Contrast and black levels were spot on which gave dark and bright scenes good dynamic range with punchy whites and rich blacks. This was a great looking video presentation.

I applaud LionsGate for their continued support of lossless audio encodes on their Blu-ray disc releases. This film contains an active surround sound mix that makes use of the entire system. The soundtrack is showing its age as some of the effects sounded a bit dated. There was ample low frequency detail being sent to the subwoofer however bass response was slow and boomy rather than quick and tight. It lacked the low level resonance and room filling capability of today's digital soundtracks. Dynamic presence was quite good though as gunshots and explosions had plenty of snap. The surround channels were mixed too hot which made them too prominent within the sound field. I found this not only distracting but it interfered with dialogue intelligibility during certain segments. It also created a noticeable shift in the balance of the front and rear soundstages which impacted the integration of sounds moving through the room. This issue wasn't a problem during the entire film however it was notable and worth pointing out. I suspect that fans of the film will enjoy this presentation these minor issues notwithstanding.



Bonus Features:


  • Out of the blue: Pop up trivia track

  • Guns, genes, and fighting machines: Making of featurette

  • Tale of two titans: Retrospective on the careers of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren

  • Alternate ending




Final Thoughts:



Universal soldier represents big budget action films of a bygone era that by today's standards feels somewhat dated. Its two stars suffer the same distinction but are warmly remembered by fans. LionsGate has delivered this catalog release title to high definition Blu-ray Disc featuring video quality that is worthy of praise and bonus content from the 2004 DVD release, that while not comprehensive, is still fan friendly. This disc is easily better than any current home video version and worth a double dip for current owners.







attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:28 PM
 
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Just so you know this was one of the very first all digital surround tracks at the cinema being presented in CDS 5.1 sound.
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

It’s hard to believe that this was the type of action film that moviegoers were serious about even back in the day.

Well, I would say it failed in giving moviegoers the type of action film we expected during that time. Remember, films like Die Hard, Robocop, and Total Recall had proceeded it shortly before. Those were the kind of action films we were expecting in 1992. This film didn't come close to delivering.

This film had so much potential, and sucked so bad. LOL.

Back off man, I'm a scientist.
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Old 10-29-2008, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharkcohen View Post

Well, I would say it failed in giving moviegoers the type of action film we expected during that time. Remember, films like Die Hard, Robocop, and Total Recall had proceeded it shortly before. Those were the kind of action films we were expecting in 1992. This film didn't come close to delivering.

This film had so much potential, and sucked so bad. LOL.

I have to disagree. This movie is nowhere near the top tier action movies but it's still great. It's also way better then Total Recall I'm a big Arnie fan but I think that's one of his worst movies. Dolph Lundgren is one of the most underrated action stars and this is one of his best. The I'm all ears scene still cracks me up. I'd take this over any action movie made this past decade(except Rambo of course ) It's good to see the video and audio got solid ratings. As you can tell I enjoy this movie and have it preordered. I miss straight up action flicks like this. Thanks for the review Ralph
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:54 PM
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I know it's a little off topic, but have you heard about his new movie coming out?

http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/jcvd/

There aren't many reviews out there yet, but they're really positive.

http://twitchfilm.net/site/view/jcvd-review/
http://www.joblo.com/can-jcvd
http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117...goryid=31&cs=1

Who knew? ^_^
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toxic_avenger View Post

I have to disagree. This movie is nowhere near the top tier action movies but it's still great. It's also way better then Total Recall I'm a big Arnie fan but I think that's one of his worst movies. Dolph Lundgren is one of the most underrated action stars and this is one of his best. The I'm all ears scene still cracks me up. I'd take this over any action movie made this past decade(except Rambo of course ) It's good to see the video and audio got solid ratings. As you can tell I enjoy this movie and have it preordered. I miss straight up action flicks like this. Thanks for the review Ralph

dude, you read my mind. My thoughts exactly to a tee.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:04 PM
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Dude, why review dreck.

Ralph,

At this point, perhaps editorial choice? After all your placement on AVS deserves no less?

Joe
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Old 10-30-2008, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toxic_avenger View Post

Dolph Lundgren is one of the most underrated action stars and this is one of his best.

The funny thing is, were people otherwise praise Dolph is in the reviews of Universal Soldiers 2.

You dont know what you have until you miss it.
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Old 10-30-2008, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco70 View Post

Dude, why review dreck.

Ralph,

At this point, perhaps editorial choice? After all your placement on AVS deserves no less?

Joe

Greetings,

Joe, my personal feelings aside this comes with the territory. It would be unfair to those who want to read a review of this movie if I decided not to do it.

Thanks..

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Old 10-30-2008, 12:03 PM
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My favorite Van Damme film and my favorite Lundgren film by far. Both were really excellent in it. Dolph was the best movie baddie we've had in a long while. Of course, he was also awesome as Street Preacher in Johnny Mnemonic.

I'll pick this one up for sure.

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Old 10-30-2008, 12:25 PM
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Some of these reissues should be priced lower, in the $14.99 retail, area.

Especially, selections like these, that are, well, problematic. They would make them more accessible to those who want to take the plunge.

I think WARNER, in Target' and Best Buy, are starting to get the hint with their budget line blu rays, that I've seen on the shelves.

The Economy, notwithstanding, you have to draw a line somewhere, otherwise the product is just going to languish on the shelves.
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Old 10-30-2008, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solo88 View Post

My favorite Van Damme film and my favorite Lundgren film by far. Both were really excellent in it. Dolph was the best movie baddie we've had in a long while. Of course, he was also awesome as Street Preacher in Johnny Mnemonic.

I'll pick this one up for sure.


What?? Rocky3!!
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Old 10-30-2008, 02:36 PM
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buying this... thanks for reviewing this Ralph.
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:01 PM
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Not sure how people can defend this film. It was a total mess.. The concept is great, but Dolph is dull, & about as entertaining as watching paint dry.. The ear line was eye rolling type funny.. More of, I felt embarrassed for him. Van Dam is not a bad actor.. I think he was very good in Time Cop... He does have a sensitivity & vulnerability to him that other action stars lack. But Dam did over play it here, & took it too serious.. Still a good mindless flick.. With more money, better director & actors, this could be a stellar film. Have Arnold play Dolphs part. Least he is charismatic. & Switch dam with Stallone or another of his ilk.

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Old 10-30-2008, 08:16 PM
 
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Ally Walker was fabulous in this movie and it was intentionally funny....It was an enjoyable film but obviously not for all tastes. Van Damme deliberately played it serious to offset Dolphs funny lines....It wouldnt be half as funny and enjoyable otherwise.

It's not Shakespeare but it's good entertainment.
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Joe, my personal feelings aside this comes with the territory. It would be unfair to those who want to read a review of this movie if I decided not to do it.

Thanks..

Understood, must be a chore to sit through certain titles and then have to evaluate the extras. The hours involved.

You're reviewing titles with a regularity and before actual commercial release that the print mags can not match.

I appreciate your efforts. Read all the reviews. Helps with the Netflix Queue.

Regards.

Joe
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KBI View Post

Not sure how people can defend this film. It was a total mess.. The concept is great, but Dolph is dull, & about as entertaining as watching paint dry.. The ear line was eye rolling type funny.. More of, I felt embarrassed for him. Van Dam is not a bad actor.. I think he was very good in Time Cop... He does have a sensitivity & vulnerability to him that other action stars lack. But Dam did over play it here, & took it too serious.. Still a good mindless flick.. With more money, better director & actors, this could be a stellar film. Have Arnold play Dolphs part. Least he is charismatic. & Switch dam with Stallone or another of his ilk.

Remember that this is basicly a movie that was made after Terminator2. So putting Arnold in it would have been a little to obvious.

Its basicly a lowbudget movie, that was shot (with the execption of the Hoover dam scenes) in Arizona (Vietnam scenes were filmed on a golf course).

Hadnt it been for the success of T2, this could have been a direct to video release.

I think much credit is to Ronald Emmerich, that raised the level for this movie.

EDIT

Read a chat the other day with Dolph

F - I heard rumor of Universal Soldier 3, is this correct?
Dolph - Im reading the script now, and it will maybe happen .
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MovieSwede View Post

Remember that this is basicly a movie that was made after Terminator2. So putting Arnold in it would have been a little to obvious.

Its basicly a lowbudget movie, that was shot (with the execption of the Hoover dam scenes) in Arizona (Vietnam scenes were filmed on a golf course).

Hadnt it been for the success of T2, this could have been a direct to video release.

I think much credit is to Ronald Emmerich, that raised the level for this movie.

EDIT

Read a chat the other day with Dolph

F - I heard rumor of Universal Soldier 3, is this correct?
Dolph - Im reading the script now, and it will maybe happen .

Sorry to get off topic but I read about this too. I hope it happens. US3 would kick butt
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Old 11-02-2008, 12:31 PM
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It's been years since I saw it at the theaters and dvd but I still think it's the best VD ever did. Yes....better than Bloodsport.

Its good to hear about a BD release. I'll add it to my Netflix.
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Old 11-02-2008, 01:45 PM
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I hope they realize that what was popular "Then", may be out of date, now, with the character's laconic dialogue.

His "watching paint dry", acting style and dialogue, will have to be up-dated to be a bit more clever, to keep viewers interested, a la Robert Downey's excellent acting portrayal of IRON MAN.
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Old 11-02-2008, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toxic_avenger View Post

Sorry to get off topic but I read about this too. I hope it happens. US3 would kick butt

If memory serves, there already was a "Universal Soldier 3", which was a made-for-cable movie, one of two unofficial sequels that aired exclusively on The Movie Channel many years ago. The only official theatrical sequel so far has been "Universal Soldier: The Return", but if they're planning another theatrical venture then I might want to get in on it once it comes out. I saw both the original and the sequel in theaters, and have always preferred the original picture. The second film was much weaker, and I never bothered with the cable TV features.

As far as this new Blu-ray of the original is concerned, I have high hopes for it, not only because of the improved picture and sound, but because it should have everything that was on the most recent DVD version. I have personally found Lionsgate to be notorious for providing budget reissues stripped of most of the DVD extras and, in the case of T2, the provision of only the theatrical cut when I was looking forward to getting the extended cut. (I won't even go into the subtitle issue on Stargate.) Much of Lionsgate's Blu-ray product has been lackluster in content, despite the promise of a better overall presentation; from what I've read here, though, their sins are atoned-for to a certain extent with this release. Now if they'd only have gotten the other stuff they did right the first time, or at least do some proper reissues in the future...

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