Action (US); 1999; Rated R; 82 Minutes
Jean-Claude Van Damme: Luc Deveraux
Michael Jai White: S.E.T.H.
Heidi Schanz: Erin
Xander Berkeley: Dylan Cotner
Justin Lazard: Cpt. Blackburn
Produced by Craig
Baumgarten, Daniel Melnick, Adam Merims, Richard G. Murphy,
Michael I. Rachmil, Allen Shapiro, Bennett R. Specter and
Jean-Claude Van Damme; Directed by Mic Rodgers; Screenwritten
by William Malone and John Fasano
by DAVID KEYES
have a confession to make, and I fear it is one that will
haunt me for years to come. First you must understand this:
film critics have big egos, undoubtedly because they are
sure they're always right. And that's understandable, too,
if you think about it for awhile. After all, unless a critic
feels all of his opinions are justifiable, no readers can
take him or her seriously, and would not trust the recommendations.
But what happens when one feels he has made a mistake? Can
he make this proclamation to his readers? More importantly,
can he even admit to himself that he was wrong?
stood by every one of my opinions, no matter how highly
they were challenged. In addition, I have never once walked
out of a film. I've sat and watched every last second unfold,
no matter how displeasing they got. I saw "Meet The Deedles"
without aspirin, "Krippendorf's Tribe" without covering
my eyes, "Bulworth" without shedding tears, "Patch Adams"
without inducing vomit, and "Let's Talk About Sex" without
screaming obscenities. I have even sat through some of the
most nefarious films ever made on more than one occasion,
either because I was forced to do so, or was looking for
some shred of redeeming value I might have missed somewhere
along the lines. That's because I have high tolerance for
cinematic stupidity. You have to if you expect to survive
critiquing movies. Says so in the rules.
alas, every critic, at some point in their life, must be
confronted with the question--is there a film so bad out
there that it cannot be sat through on the first occasion?
Can you find it in yourself to admit you were wrong in seeing
it in the first place? A couple of weeks ago, I was met
at the crossroads with this agonizing skepticism. "Universal
Soldier: The Return" is the first movie I have ever seen
that has encouraged me to walk out free of guilt: a generic
film so rehashed from moronic material and stupid, low-quality
direction that it is perhaps the most appalling piece of
work ever to hit theaters screens--maybe even worse than
typical direct-to-video material.
movie is consumed by repeating formulas, illogical twists,
depthless action sequences and artificial character roles.
Seeing them unfold was like living a nightmare. Questions
raced through my head: what am I even doing here? Should
I finish it? Am I to forever be damned by this almost unsavable
caricature? I stepped out shortly afterwards, still pondering
the possibilities, or the results, that could have come
in the last half of the picture. I was amazed at the fact
that a film managed to influence my decision to leave. It
has never happened before. But I do not doubt for an instance
that the footage I missed was just as bad. Everything about
it is likely some of the most ill-conceived material that
has ever been seen by human eyes. It may just very well
be the worst film ever made. To think that some living soul
on this earth thought that it deserved to be played on reputable
movie screens is disturbing.
gets me all riled up is not even the fact that I wasted
my time with this travesty. It is the fact that the film
has supporters--some of which I have reasonably trusted
over the years. By that, I mean critics, and not just Online
ones. A simple disagreement is exemplified as follows: with
"Universal Soldier: The Return," I feel that a viewer's
valuable time will be squandered. One critic believes "it
is solid B-Movie entertainment, and therefore deserves to
be seen." Another critic argues, "it's only 82 minutes long.
How are people going to waste time with that many minutes?"
let's analyze this situation a little more closely. The
movie is 82 minutes. Say that 8,000 people see the picture
its opening weekend. Multiply those numbers. Doesn't look
so pleasing, now does it? The result is a vast throwaway
of personal, and potentially valuable, time. In that period,
we could have found cures for diseases, saw more important
movies, or even went out and got jobs to pay for the money
we had already lost on films like "The Sixth Sense" and
"Detroit Rock City."
descriptions, character discussions, and simple criticisms
are redundant here. I cannot review the film because of
the circumstances. But nonetheless, what I'm asking here
is not so much a recommendation as it is a desperate request.
Please, even if it means offsetting a planned schedule,
do not see this movie. It could be the biggest mistake of
your life. I should know: I made it.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.