Sam Strange Tries To Explain: The UNIVERSAL SOLDIER Franchise

Sam Strange ponders cinema's most wacked-out action franchise.

It's the day after Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd give you all something to be thankful for. I just watched Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, and it occurred to me that many of you probably don't know anything about the Universal Soldier mythos. So, just to be a nice guy, I am going to explain the series, as much as I understand it.

Here we go:

*Universal Soldiers are some of my favorite action guys because they're basically roided-out zombies who shoot guns and kill the shit out of each other instead of eating boring civilians. They don't feel pain, so whenever two Universal Soldiers fight, it's like watching raw steaks hit each other, and it doesn't end until one of them is just a series of stubs spurting out A1 sauce.

*Usually Jean Claude Van Damme is a Universal Soldier. The Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier is typically robotic but noble. His journey begins with a capacity for love and even grows to include some fatherhood. But eventually he realizes that he's only on this Earth to beat the shit out of Dolph Lundgren, so he might as well stop kidding himself and get to work. This drives him insane. So insane that he shaves his head and does a headstand into a tupperware container of all-purpose flower. That's after covering the bottom half of his face with dark chocolate. He wants to be a cake.

*Dolph Lundgren is also a Universal Soldier. His Universal Soldier is a homicidal maniac. The Dolph Lundgren Universal Soldier is the Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier's moral opposite. So they fight all the time. Except for movies where the Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier controls the Dolph Lundgren Universal Soldier's mind with his Strobe Syringe. When this happens they're best buds. But their fighting nature is strong. Therefore, they can only be best buds so long as they don't see each other. So they can't share any scenes together.

*Every once in a while, a new Universal Soldier will show up and steal the movie. For instance, one time a squatty-faced Universal Soldier killed a whole Friday the 13th film's worth of badasses before the Van Damme Universal Soldier ever even laid eyes on him.

*Sometimes, that squatty faced guy grows a beard and becomes second fiddle to an even blander guy, the Scott Adkins Universal Soldier. When this happens, the Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier and the Dolph Lundgren Universal Soldier aren't sure what their roles are, so they just hang back and hope the movie knows what it's doing.

*Universal Soldiers used to just be zombies. Then they became zombie clones. You can really clone the shit out of them, too. At any given time, there could be over 100 Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldiers doing battle with 1,000 Dolph Lundgren Universal Soldiers while 10,000 squatty faced Universal Soldiers watch and 100,000 Scott Adkins Universal Soldiers cry a lot and try to fight off their violent natures.

*Not only are all the Universal Soldiers now clones but they can clone non Universal Soldier individuals, too, which means Congress and the Senate are now filled with undercover Universal Soldiers. Paul Ryan, obviously, but Al Franken, too.

*On top of that, the clones can regenerate body parts, so don't even try killing them by cutting off their fingers or toes or wieners. I suppose you could blow one up pretty good and he'd probably be able to regenerate just from a single cell. Maybe if you blow a Universal Soldier in to a million bits, you'll find yourself with a million identical Universal Soldiers. Hey! We should blow up a Universal Soldier over the ocean so his millions of Regenerations will drink the water and lower it to pre-global warming levels. Then they will die from drinking ocean water and turn into fish food. Brilliant!

*Some Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldiers are bad guys leading a revolt against their government overlords. They do this by tracking down Universal Soldiers and filling them with a Strobe Syringe. If you get hit with a Strobe Syringe, you start seeing the Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier everywhere you go, and he makes you hang out with him in his man-cave where everyone wrestles and eats raw meat while pissing in corners. If you get beaten up too badly in this man-cave, though, he will shoot you in the man-face.

*This man-cave is upriver. To get there, all you have to do is stand downriver and look tough. Someone will come pick you up. Watch out, though. There are many sentry Universal Soldiers hiding underwater along the way. It is their job to shoot any non-Universal Soldiers who try to find the man-cave. They remain on post until they are relieved by the cold, wet hands of a drowning death, at which point they are replaced by an identical clone. Universal Soldiers are better than we are, so shifts are typically five minutes long.

*There is also a Universal Soldier-only brothel filled with Universal Soldier-ettes, cloned women who don't mind punishing giant men physically or getting beaten up and/or killed because they're like sex zombies. See, Universal Soldiers are only mindless drones in the presence of violence. When it comes to sex and alcohol, they have all kinds of quirks and personalities. Take the Dolph Lundgren Universal Soldier, for instance. The guy seriously loves him some Tetris. And when he visits the brothel, he gets all dressed up for it because he enjoys romance, even though he looks and sounds like a Nordic Frankenstein.

*Every so often, the Government needs to put down the Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier's revolt. To do this, they sometimes grow a Scott Adkins Universal Soldier and make him think he had a family and that the Jean Claude Van Damme Universal Soldier killed his family. This works too well. Scott Adkins gets so confused about who is and isn't a bad guy that he just kills everyone on both sides. Then he takes over the government.

*I'm pretty sure the very existence of these guys dooms the world. It's just a matter of time. Soon we'll all be Universal Soldiers. I hope I am a Dolph Lundgren Universal Soldier, personally. I'm not so big on the psychotic killing part of his personality, but I do have a massive love for Tetris. And I, too, like to get dressed up for the brothels.

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