The Universal Soldier series was one of the more unlikely franchises of recent times; the end of the first movie had Dolph Lundgren’s Sgt. Andrew Scott “Discharged” all over JCVD’s back yard so it seemed odd when a made for TV sequel came out in 1998 called Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms.
Some of the original characters returned but without the same cast. No Dolph, no JCVD, No Chance (To quote Commando).
The only saving grace was a small role from Jeff Wincott and Gary Busey being… well, Gary Busey.
The next movie Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business was another pointless exercise but continued on from Brothers in Arms with Wincott returning.
1999 also saw the first proper sequel with Jean-Claude Van Damme returning as Luc Deveraux but this time he would be facing off against Michael Jai White, who interestingly enough is in the opening scene of the first movie. Once again this wasn’t a great movie and despite a decent fight between JCVD and MJW at the end the movie was mostly lame.
For 10 years the franchise would be as dead as the soldiers in the movies but then along came director John Hyams and injected the series with some super serum and it suddenly was alive again. JCVD and Dolph would return but this time Luc Deveraux would be quite different where he has become like a wild animal. It’s only when he is unleashed to take down a new Uni Sol in the form of UFC fighter Andrei Arlovski (who would bring a whole new ferocity to the movies) that Luc becomes the (unwitting?) saviour. The fight scenes were gritty and violent as Hell and for me this is my personal favourite of the sequels as its incredibly intense up until the finale. I still wanna know what Andrew Scott was going to say to Luc at the end though…
The final entry (so far) of the series would come in 2012 called Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning and although it had easily the best fight scenes of the series, it was very weird and once again took the movies in a whole new direction. We also got the addition of Scott Adkins so the action was awesome; the fight scene between Andrei Arlovski and Adkins was visceral and exceptionally well choreographed. This time Luc is a mysterious character in the vein of Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now who is trying to get all the Uni Sols to break free from the government and join him.
So there we have it, 5 sequels to the JCVD/Dolph Lundgren classic but which one is best? The choice is yours…