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Universal Soldier: The Return


Review

Universal Soldier: The Return, released in 1999, was the second theatrical film in the Universal Soldier series, following two made-for-TV movies, Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business. The fourth movie overall, The Return was directed by Mic Rodgers and starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, professional wrestler Bill Goldberg, Heidi Schanz, Kiana Tom and Xander Berkeley as Doctor Dylan Kotner. To date, this is the last Van Damme film with Replicant to have a wide-release in U.S. theatres, and the last to have any theatrical release until 2008’s JCVD which had a limited theatrical release. In addition, Universal Soldier: Regeneration was released in 2010.

Plot

Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) is now a technical expert who is working with the government with his partner Maggie (Tom), who’s been through countless hours of training and combat with him, to refine and perfect the UniSol program in an effort to make a new, stronger breed of soldier that is more sophisticated, intelligent, and agile.

All of the new UniSols, which are faster and stronger than their predecessors, are connected through an artificially intelligent computer system called SETH (voice of Michael Jai White), a Self-Evolving Thought Helix.

When SETH discovers that the Universal Soldier program is scheduled to be shut down because of budget cuts, he takes matters into his own “hands” to protect himself.

Killing those who try to shut off his power, and unleashing his platoon of super soldiers, led by the musclebound Romeo (Goldberg), SETH spares Deveraux, only because Deveraux has the secret code that is needed to deactivate a built-in program that will shut SETH down in a matter of hours. With the help of Squid (Brent Hinkley), a rogue cyberpunk, SETH takes human form (White).

Not only must Luc contend with ambitious reporter Erin (Schanz), who would not leave his side, but Luc also must contend with General Radford (Daniel von Bargen) who wants to take extreme measures to stop SETH. SETH has also kidnapped Luc’s injured 13-year-old daughter Hillary (Karis Paige Bryant), and is holding her hostage.

Luc is the only person who can rescue Hillary, because Luc knows firsthand how a UniSol thinks, feels, and fights. Luc infiltrates the UniSol building, freezes SETH with liquid nitrogen, then shatters SETH’s frozen body, killing him. Luc then manages to get Hillary out of the building on time. However, the bomb that General Radford had placed was deactivated by SETH. As Romeo and the platoon of Universal Soldiers start to march out, Luc fires at the explosive charge blowing up the building and killing the Universal Soldiers.

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