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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Martial Arts Cycle > Science Fiction > Van Damme Collector's Set (Lionsgate: Kickboxer/Replicant/Universal Solider)

Van Damme Collector's Set (Lionsgate: Kickboxer/Replicant/Universal Solider)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Films: C+



Van Dammmmme those were some bad movies.  Well let’s not be too hasty with our assumptions of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s film career.  Van Damme, though never a pinnacle cinematic experience, has always brought the ‘kick in the face’ action enjoyment that on some primordial level we all enjoy.  Now on DVD is a 3 film collection of some of Van Damme’s most recognizable films (Where is my Street Fighter?) entitled Van Damme Collector's Set (Kickboxer/Replicant/Universal Solider).  All three films have their own level of blow em’ up, shoot em’ up, mess em’ up fun, but offer little besides that and only truly appeals to Van Damme fans.  Let’s do a slight synopsis and critique on each film for all Van Damme virgins.


The first film on the Van Damme punch list is Kickboxer (kick list perhaps?).  Van Damme portrays a kick boxer named Kurt Sloan, who after the brutal paralyzing of his brother Eric by Thailand’s top kickboxing champion Tong Po (Michel Qissi) swears revenge.  Van Damme goes into a rage filled seclusion where he trains with the renowned Xian Chow to become the world’s best kick boxer.  Will Kurt Sloan win back his brother’s honor and defeat the brutal Tong Po?  Only one Damme way to find out.  The film was a biggy for Van Damme in 1989 and with the exception of Blood Sport, truly gave Van Damme his claim to fame.  Of the three films being reviewed in this simplistic set Kickboxer is most likely the best.  The film is short at less than an hour and half, but gets its point across quite quickly.  In the end it is a film about revenge, honor, and pure fighting rage.  Not the best action film ever, but watchable.


The second film is Replicant.  Not much to say about the film except what the hell kind of police force will we have in the future?  The basic concept of the film is that there is a deranged serial killer (Van Damme) on the loose and the one and only way to match wits with this elusive psycho is to clone him (a ponderous concept indeed).  This 2001 film venture gives audiences Van Damme on Van Damme action and this reviewer thought one was enough.  The odd but interesting film concept somewhat flops in the end, due to the storyline, acting, and fighting sequences overall being sub par.  It would be best for Van Damme’s career if he never replicates this film venture.


The third and final film in this set is the fan favorite Universal Soldier.  The concept behind this film is that in the future an elite group of super soldiers are created to assume all and any military role.  The soldiers’ missions range from simple tasks to defending the country against terrorists at the Hoover Dam (Oh my!).  The futuristic soldiers, only given a numerical code name, have one more skeleton in their closet, however, being previously DEAD Vietnam Soldiers.  The reanimated soldiers, supposedly with erased memories, start to have flashbacks of their troubled past.  Suddenly certain soldiers start to realize all is not right and begin to search into the corrupt government program known as Unisol.  Van Damme (as Devreaux) and a second soldier (Roberts) go into hiding as they research Urisol, only to be stalked by a corrupt Universal Soldier named Scott.  The thrilling whirlwind that is Universal Soldier is sure to capture audiences’ attention with its fast paced story and dramatic action sequences.  Though the film is by no means a classic, it will kill about 2hrs.


The technical features on all three films (each on their own disc) are about the same as far as picture, sound, and extras.  Overall all features are mediocre.  The picture on two of the three films (Replicant and Universal Soldier) is presented in a 1.85 X 1/16 X 9 Widescreen, whereas Kickboxer is presented in an even more lackluster 1.33 X 1 Full Screen.  The picture quality does not vary very much between the three films, all demonstrating similar issues.  The picture at times contains a grainy texture while concurrently having color balance issues.  On top of these issues Kickboxer and Universal Soldier in particular have light dark issues that are not constant but noticeable nonetheless. The sound is adequate in its simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround format, but are often times weak and do not demonstrate the BANG, BOOM, and KICK that is expected.  This is especially strange for Universal Soldier, a multi-channel sound film.


The extras are sparse by no means but also nothing to write home about.  Each film has commentaries by Van Damme amongst others, as well as alternate endings, deleted scenes, and trailers fro other films.  In the end, simplistic yet adequate is the best manner in which to describe this DVD set.


Van Damme’s career has definitely not shot to the stars but he will always be remembered for his efforts to kick some as for America and the world.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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