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Soldier vs. Solo – Battle of the Redundant Geek Movies

It’s a story as old as the bible. Or, just as feasible, anyway: Government-engineered super soldier deviates from his programming by developing a conscience and turns against his handlers to protect a group of oppressed natives. Government sends an e-e-e-e-ville next-generation super soldier to straighten things up.

Meet Kurt Russell’s Soldier (1998) and Mario Van Peebles’s Solo (1996).

– Pitting a Kurt Russell film against a Mario Van Peebles vehicle is like comparing an intelligent, rationale human being to Tom Cruise. They might look alike, but one of them is a lot more likely to wear on your patience.

Kurt has had his stinkers (Overboard, anyone?), but this is the action-movie king who brought a gleefully distinctive flavor to gems like Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, Tango & Cash and Death Proof. Even a bad action movie (and Soldier is bad, lest you wonder) is better for his presence.

Mario Van Peebles, on the other hand, is a veritable stamp of mediocrity on every project he sullies with his name. You can chalk up any success he’s had to the temperamental nature of America’s bad taste. New Jack City, the brightest jewel in his Burger King crown of a career, was a bad movie that managed to come along at the right time. Any coincidence that it was a hit at the same time that America was falling in love with Vanilla Ice? I think not.


– William Sadler, a.k.a. the bad guy from Die Hard 2, is in no way convincing as a ‘new and improved’ super soldier supposedly superior to a steroidal Mario Van Peebles.

Bill, the age lines on your 46-year-old neck in no way said to me that you were the government’s top-of-the-line, next-generation cyborg warrior. You hit your badass prime in 1990 with that weird naked-tai-chi scene in the beginning of DH2.

On the other hand, Jason Scott Lee–the dude who played Bruce Lee in Dragon–kicking the ass of an aging Kurt Russell? That I can buy.


– The producers of Soldier knew that the use of a Gatling gun is never gratuitous.

A well-shot scene with a spitfiring Gatling gun can make any movie temporarily 9% more awesome. Also see: Predator, Superman Returns, 3:10 to Yuma, Terminator 2, and The Matrix.


– At least Soldier‘s gross broke $10 million.

I wonder what it feels like when your movie barely makes $5 million. Personally, I’d take the first bus from Hollywood to Canada with my tail between my legs.

Not Mario Van Peebles. He answers the box office bomb of Solo with Los Locos… a half-baked sequel to Posse, yet another box office bomb.


– With its South American jungle setting, Solo has the unfortunate privilege of being compared against other, better actioners like Predator.

Soldier, however, stands out from the other futuristic, sci-fi films that also take place on garbage-dump planets. Like Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.

Ok, so the competition in the field of movies that take place on garbage-dump planets ain’t so stiff. But, still.


WINNER: Soldier

To the surprise of no one, in a clean sweep I’ve deemed Soldier the superior of these two bad, bad movies.

In other news, I’ve really taken a liking to deeming.

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6 comments… add one
  • Nathan D January 21, 2008, 1:07 am

    A linking to deeming? An inkling of a liking?

    I mean, you know it’s very bad news when the mere presence of KURT RUSSELL is automatically way better than whatever you’ve got.

  • paul January 21, 2008, 12:30 pm

    Did you know that before Soldier came out, it was supposed to have strong ties to Blade Runner? There are still a few references in there, but not too many. So by my thinking any film that in some way incorporates Blade Runner into it automatically wins.


  • nickolai January 21, 2008, 4:32 pm

    Jason Scott Lee was in Solo?! Hell yes!

    He was the best part of Back to the Future Part II.

  • The Jay January 23, 2008, 4:17 pm

    “I’ve really taken a liking to deeming.”

    Consider that yoinked, good sir!

    – The Jay

  • nikothefinn January 24, 2008, 3:14 pm

    You should do a head-to-head “Battle of the Redundant Pre-Teen Girl Movies” – Aquamarine, the Emma Roberts vehicle versus The Princess Diaries, the Anne Hathaway vehicle. I think your readership would appreciate it greatly. I know I would.

  • Jimmy B. January 25, 2008, 6:37 pm

    Every gritty futuristic movie tries to tie itself to Blade Runner in some way but few manage to make the knot work. In fact, I kind of get sick of hearing that from producers… it gets my hopes up only to dash them to the ground!
    Yeah, Soldier was a bad made-for-TV movie that some how made it to the big screen. It may beat out Solo… but I ask you, what of Van Dame / Dolph Lundgren’s Universal Soldier, Hmmm?

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