Universal Soldier: The Return (Blu-ray)
SRP $28.95 1.85:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 SONY
 

Jean Vlaude Van Damme reprises his role of Luc Deveraux in "UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN," available on blu-ray from SONY.  Still part of the UniSol operation, Luc must use all his savvy and brawn to deal with numerous villains when a supercomputer called "S.E.T.H." sets a dangerous course in motion. "S.E.T.H." runs the UniSol program and this computer has just caught wind that UniSol might be shut down due to cost cuttings in military spending.  Seeking to preserve itself, "S.E.T.H." uses its power to control and direct the UniSols to kill the non-UniSols at the base. However, "S.E.T.H." under-estimated Luc's abilities as well as an audience's ability to forget virtually every tired action scenes from previous films.  At least, that's what one things when watching "UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN."  Van Damme has undeniable charisma, and even the bad script, and redundant action sequences, don't ruin the guilty pleasure factor of this mediocre sequel.  Although rated "R," there's really nothing in this, that should prevent 13 and up to enjoy it. The action/violence scenes offer nothing that hasn't been seen a thousand times on regular cable tv, and certainly nothing here is gorier. While it's a welcome surprise to catch Kiana Tom, a sports-fitness tv show host form the '90s, with a part, it's disappointing she's in it so little. She and Van Damme are at least on the same acting level, and had the two been paired in more scenes, "UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN" could've been a lot more enjoyable. As it is, the plot is so predictable, that kids over 15 will probably be bored quickly. The shooting and explosions feel redundant early on, and while there are many worse films out there, it's hard to imagine anyone returning to "US: The Return" after one viewing.

SONY has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray release.  While this transfer is slightly improved over the dvd, it's not a major improvement. Grain is still present, but less intrusive. Colors are slightly deeper, but still duller than what superior blu-rays offer. Contrast isn't notably better than dvd, with darker scenes lacking impressive depth. The majority of the scenes appear flat, or with limited depth.

SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, and this is an improvement over the Dolby Digital mix of the dvd.  This mix is as creative as the film isn't! From beginning to end, the audience is swept up in the immersive environment of discrete, panning and bass effects. Gunshots and explosions benefit from terrific dynamics. Music, dialogue and effects are perfectly balanced. 

Film clips, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews are offered in standard resolution.  Theatrical trailers are offered in 1080p.