American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
One of my favorite parts in science-fiction movies is the explanation of the science, which is usually very heavy on the fiction. In "Universal Soldier," for example, we are given two Vietnam-era soldiers who are killed in action (by each other) and then packed in ice so their bodies can be used in a secret government project to create "UniSols" - android fighting machines. Twenty-five years later, not having aged a day, they go into action.
How did this scientific breakthrough take place? It's up to the brilliant Dr. Gregor (Jerry Orbach) to explain. As nearly as I can recall, he "hypercharged their bodies to turn dead flesh into living tissue." So now we know. The refitted UniSols look like muscular human beings, but wear funny little monoculars that send out a TV signal (of startlingly low quality). They are strong, acrobatic and versatile, and can be controlled by their leaders, but wouldn't you know that two of the units have combat flashbacks to Vietnam, and remember that they hate one another.
The wayward units are Luc (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Scott (Dolph Lundgren). In 'Nam, Luc wanted only to go home, and Scott wanted only to kill, and when Luc saw Scott conducting a one-man My Lai massacre, he tried to stop him and then both wound up on the recycling heap. Their minds are supposed to have been wiped clean of all memories, but when the flashbacks begin, each man's orientation has been defined by his strongest motivation at the time of his death.
Enter now the most interesting character in the movie, a TV newswoman named Veronica, played by Ally Walker with style and personality that would grace a much more ambitious movie than this one. Walker, fired by her network, goes free-lance and discovers the secret of the UniSols, leading to a long series of action scenes in which Van Damme tries to protect her and Lundgren tries to kill them both.