Universal Soldier (1971)


Introduction

Universal Soldier is a 1971 film directed by Cy Endfield and starring George Lazenby as a mercenary.

It was the final film of Endfield, who also has an acting role in it.

The title came from the 1964 song of the same name by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Outline

Ryker (Lazenby), a former mercenary, comes out of retirement to take part in the overthrow of an African dictator. He travels to London to meet former war comrade Jesse Jones (Ben Carruthers), and his associates Freddy Bradshaw (Robin Hunter) and Temple Smith (Alan Barnes). After helping fellow mercenaries test and ship weapons to South Africa, Ryker begins to have ethical concerns about his involvement. He eventually distances himself from the others, and rents a flat in London. He falls into hippie culture, and begins dating a girl named Chrissie (Chrissie Townson).

Jesse tracks down Ryker. Explaining that the operation is not producing the profits he expected, he tries to convince Ryker to return. Ryker declines, but develops a plan with Jesse to thwart the operation and take the money for themselves. They succeed and escape with Bradshaw’s car. A weapons dealer named Rawlings (Edward Judd) pursues them.

Jesse discovers that their “take” is somewhat less than the amount of cash they supposedly embezzled. Ryker reveals that his real plan was to sabotage the gun running operation, not to take all the money. Jesse assaults Ryker; Ryker, now a pacifist, refuses to defend himself. Ryker is eventually forced to break Jesse’s ankle to end his assault. As Ryker bundles Jesse into a car to seek medical treatment, Rawlings shoots them down with rifle fire.

Cast

  • George Lazenby as Ryker.
  • Ben Carruthers as Jesse.
  • Robin Hunter as Bradshaw.
  • Rudolph Walker as Mbote.
  • Cy Endfield as Derek Bowden.
  • Alan Barnes as Temple Smith.
  • Guy Deghy as Timmerman.
  • Edward Judd as Rawlings.
  • Germaine Greer as Clara Bowden.
  • Ronan O’Rahilly as Gered.
  • Kevin Duggan as Hippie.

Trivia

  • George Lazenby had just achieved international fame playing James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but decided not to repeat the role.
  • The film flopped at the box office.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Cy Endfield.
  • Producer(s): Frederick Schwartz and Donald Factor.
  • Writer(s) (Screenplay): Cy Endfield, Kevin Duggan, Kenneth Fueurman, and George Lazenby.
  • Writer(s): (Story): Joseph Massot and Derek Marlowe.
  • Music: Phillip Goodhand-Tait.
  • Cinematography: Tomy Imi.
  • Editor(s): Rex Pyke.
  • Production: Appaloosa Pictures and Ionian Finance.
  • Distributor(s): Hemdale Film Corporation.
  • Release Date: 11 June 1971.
  • Running Time: 94 minutes.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

 

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