Universal Soldiers: The Return (1999)

(In French, On Cable TV, February 2017) “Utter and unmitigated trash” is a good starting point for discussing the low-budget sci-fi/action bunch of nonsense that is Universal Soldiers: The Return. Boldly presenting a story that has been done dozens of time before (i.e.; super-soldiers causing more trouble than they’re worth), this is a film that lurches from one ill-conceived sequence to the other, never straying too far from exploitation, familiar shootouts and that elusive but unmistakable stench of late-nineties bad action movies. An all-evil Artificial Intelligence is thrown into the mix for no other reason than “hey, why not?” The rest is just noise and flames and terminal boredom. Jean-Claude van Damme can’t save the mess, and neither can Kiana Tom nor Heidi Schanz as the female counterbalance to a testosterone-drenched film. It’s almost unbearably dull despite the explosions, shootouts, strip clubs and artificial intelligence working to enslave mankind (or something like that). It’s so bad that even the direct-to-video sequels ignored it. You might as well stay away.

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