Universal Soldier (franchise)

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Universal Soldier
Universal Soldier film series.jpg
Theatrical posters of the Universal Soldier films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Films and television
Film(s)
Direct-to-video
Games
Video game(s) Universal Soldier (1992)

The Universal Soldier franchise is a series of science fiction action films. The franchise began in 1992 with Universal Soldier and as of 2012 comprises six entries (some of which are now considered non-canon).[1][2] The films centered on the character of Luc Deveraux (played first by Jean-Claude Van Damme and then by Matt Battaglia) until Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, which focuses on a new protagonist named John (played by Scott Adkins).

Overview[edit]

The Universal Soldiers franchise began in 1992 with Universal Soldier starring by Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. The series centers on two American soldiers, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and Andrew Scott (Lundgren), who are killed during the Vietnam War and reanimated in the 1990s as highly advanced Universal Soldiers.

After Universal Soldier was released, Carolco, the production company that backed the film, went bankrupt and sold the rights of the series to Skyvision Entertainment, located in Toronto, in 1995.[3] As a result, two TV films were released direct-to-video starring Matt Battaglia as Luc Deveraux and Chandra West as Veronica Roberts in Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. The films were produced for Showtime / The Movie Channel as a miniseries meant as a backdoor pilot for a series.

In 1999, Van Damme returned for the fourth installment, Universal Soldier: The Return. An overwhelming critical and financial failure, The Return contradicted several elements of the previous film's plot by making Luc Deveraux no longer a Universal Soldier, giving him a daughter, and removing female protagonist Veronica Roberts.[4][5][6]

The subsequent film in the series, Universal Soldier: Regeneration, revived the franchise in 2010; disregarding the events of The Return, as well as its made-for-cable predecessors.[1][2] The film featured Van Damme and Lundgren in much smaller roles, and introduced a new protagonist named John (Scott Adkins) fighting against both Deveraux and Scott.

Films[edit]

Film U.S release date Director Producer(s) Screenwriter(s)
Universal Soldier 1992 Roland Emmerich Mario Kassar, Allen Shapiro Richard Rothstein, Christopher Leitch, Dean Devlin
Universal Soldier: The Return 1999 Mic Rodgers Daniel Melnick, Michael I. Rachmil, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Allen Shapiro William Malone, John Fasano
Universal Soldier: Regeneration 2009 John Hyams Craig Baumgarten, Mark Damon, Moshe Diamant, Courtney Solomon Victor Ostrovsky
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning 2012 John Hyams Craig Baumgarten, Moshe Diamant, Allen Shapiro, Courtney Solomon John Hyams, Doug Magnuson, and Jon Greenlagh

Universal Soldier (1992)[edit]

Directed by Roland Emmerich, written by Richard Rothstein, Christopher Leitch, and Dean Devlin. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, and Ally Walker.

In the first installment of the franchise, American soldier Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) finds that his superior officer, Andrew Scott (Lundgren), has turned violently deranged, and the two fight to the death during the Vietnam War. After their bodies are retrieved, they are placed into a secret program in which they are reanimated and trained to become unquestioning killing machines. While Devereaux and Scott initially have no memory of their former lives, glimpses of their pasts start to return, rekindling their intense conflict.

Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)[edit]

Directed by Mic Rodgers, written by William Malone and John Fasano. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, and Bill Goldberg.

In this theatrical sequel to the original film, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme), now an ordinary human after having had his cybernetic implants removed, works with scientist Dylan Cotner to create a new, safer breed of fighters that are connected through an artificially intelligent computer system called S.E.T.H. (Self-Evolving Thought Helix). When Cotner's project loses its funding, his supercomputer is scheduled to be turned off. Alarmed, SETH takes over a superior UniSol model (White) and kidnaps Deveraux’s daughter. Now, Deveraux must save his daughter and prevent the machine from destroying mankind.

Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)[edit]

Directed by John Hyams, and written by Victor Ostrovsky. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, and Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski.

In this revival of the franchise, “Regeneration” disregards the events of “The Return,” as well as its made-for-cable predecessors[1][2] by beginning the film with Former UniSol Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) undergoing rehabilitation therapy in Switzerland under Dr. Sandra Fleming with the goal of rejoining society. However, when a terrorist sect uses an experimental Next-Generation UniSol (NGU) to seize the atomic reactor at Chernobyl, Deveraux is reactivated to save the planet from nuclear Armageddon. Unfortunately, Deveraux will also have to contend with his nemesis, Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), a fellow Universal Soldier who's been recharged by the terrorists.

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)[edit]

Directed by John Hyams, written by John Hyams, Doug Magnuson, and Jon Greenlagh. Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski, and Scott Adkins.

Archenemies Luc Devereaux and Andrew Scott contend with a terrifying army of reanimated super-soldiers determined to infiltrate the government which they hold responsible for their pain.

TV films[edit]

Film U.S release date Director Producer(s) Screenwriter(s)
Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms 1998 Jeff Woolnough Robert Wertheimer Peter M. Lenkov
Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business 1998 Jeff Woolnough Robert Wertheimer Peter M. Lenkov

After the original film was released, Carolco, the production company that backed the film, went bankrupt and sold the rights of the series to Skyvision Entertainment, located in Toronto, in 1995.[3] As a result, two TV films were released direct-to-video starring Matt Battaglia as Luc Deveraux and Chandra West as Veronica Roberts in Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. The films were produced for Showtime / The Movie Channel as a miniseries meant as a backdoor pilot for a series.

Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (1998)[edit]

Directed by Jeff Woolnough, written by Peter M. Lenkov. Starring Matt Battaglia, Chandra West, and Gary Busey.

This direct-to-video sequel takes places exactly after the events of the original Universal Soldier. After the terrible events of the original Universal Soldier testing, the budget has been slashed by the government; however, under the orders of a CIA director, a gang of mercenaries take control of the new line of Universal Soldiers and try to use them into helping to smuggle diamonds to the highest foreign buyer. Meanwhile, Luc Deveraux (Matt Battaglia) and Veronica Roberts (Chandra West) are in hiding on his parents’ farm. The Unisol controllers then activate a homing beacon embedded inside Devreaux’s body that makes him return to the Unisol base in Chicago where his memory is reprogrammed. Veronica follows and while sneaking into the Unisol lab to rescue Luc, she discovers that his older brother Eric, a deceased soldier from Vietnam, has also been resurrected.

Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (1998)[edit]

Directed by Jeff Woolnough, written by Peter M. Lenkov. Starring Matt Battaglia, Chandra West, Jeff Wincott, and Burt Reynolds.

Luc Devereaux (Battaglia) and Veronica Roberts (Chandra West) continue their attempts to expose the Universal Soldier unit. After a hostage situation mistakenly leaves Veronica a fugitive, the two escape the city and go into hiding. Meanwhile, CIA Deputy Director Mentor (Burt Reynolds) and Dr. Walker are in the process of creating a powerful new Universal Soldier clone of Luc's brother, Eric (Jeff Wincott), to assassinate him and Veronica.

Storyline Continuity[edit]

"Universal Soldier: Regeneration" revived the franchise in 2010 by disregarding the events of "The Return," as well as its made-for-cable predecessors.[1][2] A Collider article that focuses on "Days of Reckoning" and interviews the film's director states that the latest installment in the franchise is "either the third, fourth or sixth film in the franchise depending on if you include the pair of non-canon Direct-to-Television sequels and/or the totally retconned 'Universal Soldier: The Return';"[2] however, minor elements from these films can be found within the canon series including UniSol clones and UniSol sleeper-agents (from II, III).[4]

Canon[edit]

Below is a table of three canon films in chronological order.

Canon films in Chronological order
Timeline order Title US Release
1
Universal Soldier 1992
2
Universal Soldier: Regeneration 2009
3
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning 2012

Non-canon[edit]

Below is a table of three non-canon films: two direct-to-video films and a theatrical film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in order of their release.

Non-Canon films
No. Title US Release
1
Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms 1998
2
Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business 1998
3
Universal Soldier: The Return 1999

Characters[edit]

Character Film
Universal Soldier
(1992)
Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms
(1998)
Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business
(1998)
Universal Soldier: The Return
(1999)
Universal Soldier: Regeneration
(2009)
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
(2012)
Luc Deveraux Jean-Claude Van Damme Matt Battaglia Jean-Claude Van Damme
Andrew Scott Dolph Lundgren Andrew Jackson   Dolph Lundgren
Eric Deveraux   Jeff Wincott  
Veronica Roberts Ally Walker Chandra West  
Romeo   Bill Goldberg  
Seth   Michael Jai White  
Capt Blackburn   Justin Lazard  
Erin Young   Heidi Schanz  
Maggie   Kiana Tom  
Magnus / NGU   Andrei Arlovski
Miles   Kristopher Van Varenberg
Dr. Colin   Kerry Shale  
Dr. Porter   Garry Cooper  
John   Scott Adkins

Crew[edit]

Crew/detail Films
Universal Soldier
(1992)
Brothers in Arms
(1998)
Unfinished Business
(1998)
The Return
(1999)
Regeneration
(2009)
Day of Reckoning
(2012)
Director Roland Emmerich Jeff Woolnough Mic Rodgers John Hyams
Producer(s) Mario Kassar
Allen Shapiro
Robert Wertheimer Daniel Melnick
Michael I. Rachmil
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Allen Shapiro
Craig Baumgarten
Mark Damon
Moshe Diamant
Courtney Solomon
Craig Baumgarten
Moshe Diamant
Allen Shapiro
Courtney Solomon
Writer(s) Richard Rothstein
Christopher Leitch
Dean Devlin
Peter M. Lenkov William Malone
John Fasano
Victor Ostrovsky John Hyams
Doug Magnuson
Jon Greenlagh
Composer Christopher Franke N/A N/A Don Davis Kris Hill
Michael Krassner
Wil Hendricks
Michael Krassner
Robin Vining
Cinematography Karl Walter Lindenlaub Russ Goozee N/A Mike Benson Peter Hyams Yaron Levy
Editor Michael J. Duthie Mike Lee N/A Peck Prior Jason Gallagher
John Hyams
Andrew Drazek
John Hyams
Production Company Carolco Pictures
Centropolis Entertainment
IndieProd Company Productions
N/A N/A Long Road Entertainment
IndieProd Company Productions
Baummgarten-Prophet Entertainment
N/A BMP Productions
Signature Entertainment
Distribution TriStar Pictures N/A N/A TriStar Pictures Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Foresight Limited
Magnet Releasing
Runtime 102 minutes 92 minutes 95 minutes 89 minutes 97 minutes 114 minutes
U.S. Release Date July 10, 1992 September 27, 1998 October 24, 1998 August 20, 1999 February 2, 2010 November 30, 2012

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States Foreign Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
Universal Soldier July 10, 1992 $36,299,898 $36,299,898 #1,835 $23 million [7]
Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms September 27, 1998
Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business October 24, 1998
Universal Soldier: The Return August 20, 1999 $10,717,421 $270,000 $10,937,893 #3,837 $45 million [6]
Universal Soldier: Regeneration October 1, 2009 $844,447 $844,447 $9 million [8]
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning November 30, 2012 $5,460 $363,719 $369,179 #11,358 $8 million [9]
Total $48,087,698 $633,719 $48,230,945 N/A N/A $85 million N/A

Critical reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Universal Soldier 20% (25 reviews)[10]
Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms 0% (7 reviews)[11]
Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business 20% (5 reviews)[12]
Universal Soldier: The Return 6% (52 reviews)[5] 24 (14 reviews)[13]
Universal Soldier: Regeneration
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning 50% (44 reviews)[14] 58 (18 reviews)[15]
Average Ratings 19.2% 41/100

Video game[edit]

A Universal Soldier video game was produced by The Code Monkeys and released by Accolade in 1992.[16] The game was a conversion of Turrican II: The Final Fight for the Sega Genesis and Game Boy. Another version was developed later for the SNES, but it was never released.[17][18]later Homebrew is the prototybe northamerica and Europe Roms Download.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Buckwalter, Ian (November 30, 2012). "The 'Universal Soldier' Paradox: When a Bad Franchise Produces a Great Film". The Atlantic. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Daniels, Hunter (December 6, 2012). "Director John Hyams Talks UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, Plus the Top 11 Things to Know About Hyams and His Film". Collider. 
  3. ^ a b Benson, Jim (1995-02-05). "Carolco Sells 'Soldier' Rights To Skyvision". Variety. 
  4. ^ a b McLeavy, Alex (Sep 10, 2015). "Universal Soldier may be the only series whose DTV sequels are its best work". A.V Club. 
  5. ^ a b "Universal Soldier: The Return". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  6. ^ a b "Universal Soldier: The Return". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  7. ^ "Universal Soldier Franchise". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  8. ^ "Universal Soldier: Regeneration". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  9. ^ "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  10. ^ "Universal Soldier". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  11. ^ "Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  12. ^ "Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  13. ^ "Universal Soldier: The Return". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  14. ^ "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  15. ^ "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  16. ^ "Universal Soldier". GameFAQs. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Universal Soldier for Genesis (1992)". Moby Games. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Universal Soldier [SNES]". Unseen64. Retrieved March 28, 2013.