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Film / Universal Soldier (1992)

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Universal Soldier is a 1992 sci-fi action film directed by Roland Emmerich which subsequently spawned an action franchise.

The film begins in 1969, during The Vietnam War. Private Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is finishing when he finds out that his sergeant, Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), has killed his entire platoon and taken hostages. Deveraux confronts Scott and attempts to talk him down, only to fail, resulting in the deaths of the hostages. Deveraux then 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, Deveraux and Scott are "universal soldiers"–cybernetic Super Soldiers. After a successful mission and an encounter with a reporter named Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker), Deveraux begins to have flashbacks to Vietnam and remembers fragments of his past life ... but so does Scott.

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This film provides examples of:

  • Action Prologue: Set in The Vietnam War.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When Scott thinks he's about to finish off Luc, he says "say goodnight, asshole". Luc then surreptitiously injects himself with Phlebotinum and says "goodnight, asshole" and kicks Scott's ass. Probably a Shout-Out to the apocryphal George Burns and Gracie Allen "Say goodnight, Gracie" bit.
  • Ax-Crazy: Sgt. Andrew Scott goes totally bonkers in 'Nam and murders his squad and a whole Vietnamese village, making for himself a necklace made from the ears of his victims before he is stopped by Pvt. Luc Deveraux, who also dies in the process. After dying and being turned into a Universal Soldier, he eventually recovers his memories and returns to his old, murderous habits to pursue his vendetta against Deveraux, who has also been turned into a UniSol.
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  • Base on Wheels: The titular soldiers are based in a large expanding shipping container on the back of a semi. Originally a non-villanous example, as it is part of an experimental US military program. Later on, though, it gets taken over by Scott.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final fight.
  • Big Badass Rig: The mobile base for the Universal Soldier Strike Force. Expandable compartments, reasonably armoured and came with a trailer in which the Unisols cooling chamber and memory wiping equipment could be kept. It eventually got destroyed by Scott in his pursuit of Devereaux.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Now that the sequels have been retconned, we have to assume the worst for Devereaux and Veronica. At best they are guilty of several crimes including arson and assualt; at worse no one is going to believe them about super soldiers and government conspiracies no matter what evidence they have and they are going down for multiple murders.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • "You're discharged, Sarge." "That's the spirit, Soldier!"
    • Devereaux dispatches of Scott by shoving him into a wood chipper. When asked where Scott is, Devereaux replies, "Around".
  • Boom, Headshot!: Happens a few times. It's how Sgt. Scott kills one of the villagers in The Vietnam War scene, how the Unisols dispose of the first terrorists in the Hoover Dam hostage takeover, and how Scott kills Col. Perry., to name a few instances.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: Luc is only able to defeat Scott after he takes a dose of supersoldier serum.
  • Clock King: The general is one of these, thanks to the superhuman abilities of the UniSols, he can accurately predict how much time it takes for them to swim a mile and a half under four minutes, then comment that they're eight seconds behind schedule.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Andrew Scott wears a necklace of human ears at the start. He wears another necklace (again) of human ears later on.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: GR 13/Sgt. Scott meets his end when he's turned into mincemeat in a wheat thresher.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Except for Luc Devraux, cyborg conversions didn't go too well. He was able to overcome his programming and have a normal life. The villain, Andrew Scott, didn't, but he was pretty screwed up to begin with. In the latter's case, it's also subverted: when Luc visits the scientist who was involved in the original project before he resigned, the scientist points out that the bad guy still thinks he's in Vietnam. However, by the end Scott seems to have realized that the war is long over, and is only continuing to pursue Deveraux to destroy his life and kill his family out of spite.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Scott pulls this.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Invoked by Perry when he reveals to Woodward that the entire Universal Soldier operation was done without anyone in the Pentagon knowing exactly where the soldiers came from and they're in trouble if it gets out.
    Perry: Do you really think for one second those wimps at the Pentagon would allow the regeneration of dead soldiers, American soldiers?
  • Diner Brawl: It featured an example in which the hero started the fight, although not intentionally. Luc has just discovered food and orders multiple plates without realizing that he has to pay for it. You can imagine where it goes from there.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Lundgren, once he regains his memory.
  • Fanservice: Yes, we get to see Van Damme's naked butt in this film.
  • Fast-Roping: We get to see some of the unconventional methods of warfare that the UniSols are trained to perform. They use the Australian variation of fast roping, which involves them running face down a sheer surface.
  • Groin Attack: Veronica does this to a cop that is trying to arrest her and Deveraux; explaining to the latter that she has three brothers.
  • Hand Cannon: The UniSols use .357 Desert Eagles.
  • Heroic RRoD: UniSols have superhuman strength, endurance and heal much faster from their wounds... At the cost of being unable to control their bodily temperature, meaning they'll overheat and die if they're not put into cold storage between missions.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Deveraux and Veronica are hiding from the UniSols in a gas station. Van Damme promptly strips naked and asks her to "look for something hard". No, not that, he was talking about an implanted tracking device.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Deveraux and Veronica manage to evade the UniSols hunting them at the motel by hiding in the same bed an unfortunate and terrified couple were having sex in before the shootout started.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Veronica Roberts is implied to be this, though we never get to see the big scoops she got.
  • Made of Iron: Deveraux uses this ability to smash through walls, along with ignoring a gunshot wound before cauterizing it with a cigarette lighter. He also ignored having the black box surgically removed from his thigh without flinching. Scott himself used this to survive being ejected head first out of a car during a collison, and to survive the Unisol Mobile Base crashing into a canyon floor and exploding.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Dr. Gregor, the creator of Operation Black Tower, the original UniSol program. Becomes The Atoner, because of what he created.
    • His successors, Dr. Porter and Dr. Colin, who headed Operation White Tower, which was responsible for the next-generation of UniSols.
  • More Dakka: Courtesy of Andrew Scott and his M60. The motel scene also features the Universal Soldiers pumping copious amounts of lead into said building.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Justified by mentioning that Deveraux's parents hail from France and spoke mostly french instead of english. The novelization also mentions that Deveraux grew up on the Louisiana bayou.
  • Pineapple Surprise: GR74 was ordered to hold a live grenade that was handed to him by Woodard, one of the Black Tower handlers. GR74 survived the explosion and underwent subsequent regeneration. Woodard himself wasn't so lucky.
  • Super Strength: With the muscle booster, Scott was able to throw Deveraux around like he was a toy and flatten a barn door. When Deveraux got a hold of it, he was able to dropkick Scott with enough force to throw him through a wall.
  • Wham Line: From Scott once he regains his memories and goes rogue.
    Col. Perry: GR13! I said it's over!
    Scott: My name is Sergeant...Andrew Scott.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Veronica is framed for murder. The movie ends before she is able to clear her name.

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