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LEGIONNAIRE

SYNOPSIS:
Alain LeFevre (Jean Claude Van Damme), a young playboy in 1920s Paris, is forced to join the French Foreign Legion to save his life after an affair with Katrina (Ana Sofrenovic), a mob moll. Fighting valiantly for the Legion in North Africa, he learns the value of honor, bravery, and discipline. He survives and returns to Paris to seek revenge and save his former lover.

"Jean-Claude van Damme may go down as the most wooden, passionless actor [did I say actor?] in recent American cinema. Miscast as a French Foreign Legionnaire, van Damme delivers a monotonic performance that is sufficient to cure the worst cases of insomnia imaginable - and that, mes amis, is the good news. The film is a major misfire, a poorly scripted and mostly incompetently directed mish mash that rarely knows what it's doing. Now, one can understand the appeal of this 'muscles from Brussels' and there are times where the material is at least entertaining. However, van Damme's 'legion' of fans will surely dissipate after seeing him trying to become a classic hero, in period costume and without a single martial arts scene. The very audience that built him up will tear him down, because what they donít want, is the Belgian trying to be an actor. He's not, and that's the reality. Beyond that, the screenplay is all over the place and contains some appalling dialogue. The rest of the cast overacts [presumably to make up for what the star of the film lacks], and director Peter MacDonald's inexperience as a full-on feature director is in evidence. Clearly comfortable with the grand action pieces [which are quite impressive], he is clearly lost when handling the film's silly, intimate moments, and the movie's ending will have audiences crying foul. Legionnaire is cinema at its blandest, and that, perhaps is the biggest insult."
Paul Fischer

"This film shows us a different Jean Claude...not startlingly different by any means, but different enough for me not to come in here all guns blazing. There are no tricky whirlybird kicks in this film, just plenty of bullets and blood as he attempts to survive the onlsaught of his enemies, and not all of them are the bad guys in turbans. This movie is not intended as much more than a bit of a star vehicle for JCVD and not a great deal happens. He boxes, he wins, he becomes a wanted man, embarks for Africa with a series of cliches, er, friends (sorry) as well as enemies and spends a lot of time getting shot at, betrayed and confided in. Jean Claude fans will love this one but I find it hard to believe many others will as it is so predictable. There are also many unanswered questions that really should not have gone unanswered. We're not talking what type of make-up was used, we're talking why did Alain abandon Katrina in the first place? Why is such a cool actor like Nicholas Farrell (who plays the only vaguely interesting character, Mackintosh) doing movies with Van Damme? One of the questions that remains unanswered is how does everyone know so much English? There are so many different nationalities in the film from a variety of social classes everyone, miraculously, knows English. How do you explain an uneducated African-American being able to speak several European languages fluently? It's like Doctor Who, only less believable. It's gritty, visually at least, it's easy on the mind and manages to avoid being too crass."
Peter Anderson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

LEGIONNAIRE (M 15+)
(US)

CAST: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vincent Pickering, Steven Berkoff, Ana Sotrenovic

DIRECTOR: Peter McDonald

PRODUCER: Ed Pressman

SCRIPT: Sheldon Lettich, Rebecca Morrison, Jean-Claude Van Damme

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 3, 1998







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