Action Movie Fanatix Review: Universal Soldier (1971)

Universal Soldier 1971 bannerThis Man’s Business Is Weapons

Starring: George Lazenby, Ben Carruthers, Robin Hunter, Christina Townsend, Edward Judd, Alan Barnes, Cy Endfield, Germaine Greer

Director: Cy Endfield

1971  |  87 Minutes

“He knows every damn gun law of every damn country you’ve ever heard of.” – Jesse

Universal Soldier was the movie George Lazenby turned down a seven film James Bond deal for.  He could have been James Bond for the next fifteen years but instead decided to put out Universal Soldier.  And just so we’re clear, this Universal Soldier has absolutely nothing to do with the Jean-Claude Van Damme / Dolph Lundgren action masterpiece that came twenty-one years later.

Universal Soldier (1971) follows Ryker (George Lazenby), a former mercenary, as he comes out of retirement for… one more job working with some African dudes looking to overthrow a government somewhere.  Ryker finds himself haunted by his past, finds peace and opts to not go through with the mission, much to the dismay of his former friends and business associates.

Universal Soldier 1971 pic 1

Universal Soldier starts out feeling like it could be something kinda badass.  George Lazenby looks pretty badass with his mustache and mutton chops.  He’s got a badass name… Ryker!  He’s got a gun and his buddy makes him seem like he has carried that gun all over the world.  We quickly see how proficient he is with this gun and many others.  But then it takes a weird turn.  It’s like everyone showed up on the first day of filming ready to make an action movie but then smoked a bunch of weed and turned into hippies and the rest of the movie fell apart.

Universal Soldier 1971 pic 2

If all of that isn’t bad enough the plot is basically non-existent.  The movie drops us into a story that we know nothing about and never fills us in on what is supposed to be going on.  We are expected to just kind of figure it out… but that isn’t possible.  There’s just not enough explanation at any point in the film to comprehend it.  It’s completely incoherent.

Universal Soldier 1971 pic 3

Add to that, there’s more music montages than there is actual plot.  The music itself isn’t bad.  I might even call one or two of the songs GOOD.  But I don’t want to watch a badass mercenary walking around the city all mopey-like while some easy listening ‘70s music plays.  I want to watch him kick ass.

Universal Soldier 1971 pic 4


But there’s no ass kicking to be had.  Universal Soldier is an actionless action movie turned hippie Easy Rider wanna be.  You’ve got to think Lazenby is kicking himself to this day that he didn’t take that sweet James Bond deal.

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