Universal Soldier is a 1992 action science fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren as soldiers who kill each other in Vietnam but are reanimated in a secret Army project along with a large group of other previously dead soldiers.
In 1967, during the Vietnam War, an American military squad receives orders to secure a village against North Vietnamese forces. Private Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) discovers members of his squad and various villagers dead, all with their ears removed. Sergeant Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), having gone insane, is the culprit behind the mutilations. Deveraux finds Scott holding a string of severed ears and also holding a young boy and girl hostage.
Deveraux, who is near the end of his tour of duty, tries to reason with Scott, saying that the war is over and that he just wants to go home. Scott becomes infuriated and shoots the boy. He then orders Deveraux to shoot the girl to prove his loyalty. Deveraux refuses and stops Scott from shooting her himself. The girl attempts to escape but Scott uses a grenade, killing her. Luc and Scott shoot each other and both are killed. The next morning, a U.S. Special Forces squad finds their bodies. The commanding officer orders the bodies to be bagged and iced and to never discuss with anyone the truth of what really happened.
In 1992, terrorists have taken over the Hoover Dam and the police agencies are ordered not to intervene or make any attempt to rescue the hostages. Instead, the Universal Soldiers (or “UniSols”), an elite counter terrorism unit, are brought in. Among the team are the long dead Deveraux (now designated “GR44”) and Scott (now designated “GR13”). They apparently have been revived with no memory of their previous lives.
Deveraux and Scott are sent in to dispatch several of the terrorists, with Deveraux using efficient means, but Scott using excessive force. Their camera feeds sent back to the command post causes concern among the project technicians that even though the UniSols are supposed to be emotionless, Scott is enjoying it. As the team infiltrate the area, they demonstrate their superior training and physical abilities, as one of them (Ralf Moeller as GR74) is shown surviving close-range automatic gunfire.
After the area is secured, Deveraux begins to regain memory from his former life after seeing two of the hostages who resemble the villagers he tried to save back in Vietnam. Turning around, he looks at Scott (who is also experiencing the same memory) but as a Unisol, he can’t say anything. This causes him to ignore radio commands from the control team.
Back in the mobile command center, the Unisol technician team is trying to figure out what happened at Hoover Dam. They reveal that the UniSols are cyborgs with enhanced healing abilities and superior strength but also have a tendency to overheat and shut down. They’re also given a neural serum to keep their minds under control and their previous memories suppressed. All of the UniSols are ordered to go back into their cooling units and inject themselves with the serum. As a result of the glitch, Woodward (Leon Rippy), one of the technicians on the project, feels it may be better to remove Scott and Deveraux from the team until they can be further analyzed. But Colonel Perry (Ed O’Ross), the commander in charge, ignores the suggestion.
TV journalist Veronica Roberts (Ally Walker) tries to get a story on the UniSol project in an attempt to get her job back, since she was fired while covering the Hoover Dam incident. Speaking with representatives from the project, she only gets evasive answers. She later sneaks onto the base with a camera to investigate, only to discover a damaged UniSol who appears to be fatally wounded, but is still alive.
When she tries to escape, Deveraux and Scott are ordered to bring her back. She gets to her cameraman’s car, but the Unisols cause it to crash and overturn. Scott mercilessly executes the cameraman and Deveraux again intervenes, preventing him from shooting Roberts. They both escape in a UniSol vehicle.
After escaping, Scott mumbles about Deveraux being a traitor, but none of the Unisol team hear it. Colonel Perry wants to chase Roberts and Deveraux down to prevent knowledge of the UniSols from getting out, not only to the public, but to the Pentagon and the Department of Defense, who don’t know the true nature of the project.
As Deveraux and Roberts run and try to get evidence of the UniSol program to the media, Roberts turns on the television and discovers she was framed for the murder of her cameraman. Scott’s previously insane personality begins to emerge, causing him to kill innocents. Perry and the technicians are killed as they attempt to stop him. Scott then takes over the rest of the UniSol team.
Deveraux and Roberts continue moving as Roberts tries to find more information about the UniSol program. They meet Doctor Christopher Gregor (Jerry Orbach), the originator of the program. The UniSol project was started in the 1960’s in order to develop the perfect soldier. Although they learned how to reanimate dead human remains, they were never able to overcome the bodies need for constant cooling. The other major problem is that the memories of the last moments of life are greatly amplified. In Luc’s case, he still believes he is a soldier who wants to go home, while Scott believes he is still in Vietnam fighting the communist insurgents.
When Deveraux and Roberts leave the doctor’s office, they are arrested by the police. On the way to jail, they are ambushed by Scott and the remaining Unisols. They manage to escape when the police bus and the UniSols support vehicle are both destroyed. Presuming that Scott and the other UniSols are all dead, Deveraux and Roberts head to Luc’s family’s farm in Louisiana.
After Deveraux reunites with his family, Scott tracks them down and takes the family and Roberts hostage. A brutal fight ensues, and Scott’s use of muscle enhancers enables him to mercilessly beat Deveraux. Roberts manages to escape from her bonds only to be seemingly killed by a grenade thrown by Scott. He continues to dominate until Deveraux grabs the muscle enhancers Scott used and injects himself with one. With their strengths now matched, Deveraux fights back and is able to impale Scott on the spikes of a hay harvester. Deveraux then starts the machine up, grinding Scott up. Finally, Deveraux checks on Roberts, who, though wounded, survived the explosion and the two embrace.