UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN Image

Jean Claude Van Damme-age, like his brought-back-to-life unisol in the first “Universal Soldier,” looks to rejuvenate his sagging career by creating an auctioneer franchise. But the “Muscles from Brussels'” capricious career isn’t the only thing sagging; his face has more lines and a touch of grey. In this sequel Van Damme is now a humanized militia advisor and a single dad — his wife has passed on. The new strain of Unisols (Universal Soldiers) are controlled by S.E.T.H. an artificial intelligence source that is too HAL like for its own good. When the military goes to pull the plug on S.E.T.H. and his hordes, they rebel and Van Damme puts on his fatigues and kicks some butt. The pyrotechnics and actions scenes are for the most part cheesy, muddled and boorish. The dialogue is inane. There’s really no excuse for this film, except the brawl scene at a high-brow adult club and the slick fight choreography when Van Damme and S.E.T.H. — in the body of the beefy Michæl Jai White — square off. Hopefully this is the last we have seen of the Unisol series, but unfortunately the dearth of creativity in Hollywood, will allow it to live for another abysmal dumbing. Even pro wrestling’s outlandish superstar Goldberg looks tranquil and unengaging as the bulky Unisol called Romeo.

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