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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jean-Claude Van Damme. After enraging a mobster by moving in on his girl, a handsome rogue seeks refuge in the French Foreign Legion. 1998/color/99 min/R/widescreen.


Exiled to a video-only release when its distributor balked after the flop of Jean-Claude Van Damme's previous film Knock Off, this lavish adventure deserved a chance at theatrical success. Action icon Van Damme recasts himself as a tragic romantic hero in this entertaining old-fashioned adventure with a modern sensibility. "The Muscles from Brussels" is no Brando, but he acquits himself nicely as a cocky boxer who double-crosses a Marseilles mobster and joins the French Foreign Legion when his half-baked plan backfires with tragic consequences. Surrounded by a better than usual cast (including Steven Berkoff as a Teutonic drill sergeant, Jim Carter as the ruthless ganglord, and Nicholas Farrell as a gentleman soldier with a taste for gambling and a dark past), Van Damme's dour performance sometimes gets lost in the colorful characters around him. But that's okay--there's adventure enough to go around and he's willing to share it. The Marseilles scenes evoke a quaint movie past with their smoky bars and shadowy streets, but the film is reborn as an ambitious, stoic platoon drama in the sands of French Morocco. Legionnaire alludes to classic films from Beau Geste to Casablanca to Lawrence of Arabia, but ultimately marches its own macho course, reveling in testosterone-driven heroics and bonding-under-fire while acknowledging the irony of its colonial mission ("We're the intruders," realizes one soldier). It's a calculated risk for Van Damme (who also cowrote and coproduced), but if Legionnaire never quite grasps the epic scope it's reaching for, it remains one of his best films, a handsome, exciting, and surprisingly grim desert adventure. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • 30-minute documentary
  • Interviews with the cast & crew
  • Rare footage of Legionnaires in combat
  • Trivia Game
  • The original screenplay(DVD-ROM)

Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Steven Berkoff, Nicholas Farrell, Jim Carter
  • Directors: Peter MacDonald
  • Writers: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Rebecca Morrison, Sheldon Lettich
  • Producers: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Christian Halsey Solomon, Edward R. Pressman, Gregory G. Woertz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: February 9, 1999
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305259429
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,292 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Legionnaire" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

A good effort though Van Damme.
The movie is action packed, the special effects are great, the acting is excellent and the cast are wonderful.
L Gontzes
I mean yeah of course this isn't Lawrence of Arabia or Saving private ryan, but then again what else is?
M. Scheppmann

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By DH on August 16, 2002
Format: DVD
Van Damme has a few movies under his belt, but they are a mixed bunch, that's for sure. Legionnaire, however, is one of Van Damme's better movies. Van Damme plays a Frenchman who joins the Foreign Legion after a tangled love affair goes wrong. We get some action before Van Damme joins the Legion, by way of boxing matches and then we are provided with some quality military action set in the desert. I must confess to enjoying this movie. Van Damme didn't overact and he actually suited the role. His supporting cast also did a nice job. The locations were quite inspiring. The script was very cliche in parts, but was acceptable. The highlight for me was the ambush and climatic battle scene in the latter stages of the movie. They were very well done. Overall, a well done action movie set around an uncommon theme and location. Recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Waitkoss on December 29, 2003
Format: DVD
I grew up watching "Beau Geste" (which is a film which deserves to be on DVD)and all other films about the French Foreign Legion fall or rise to that film's greatness. That being so, "Legionnaire" stands as a solid drama of the men who join the legion to forget their past lives and to rebuild new ones--if they survive. The film is well-crafted and the wide-screen format is perfect in bringing the viewer the feel of the desert--its vastness, its heat, and its beauty. The film's action scenes are sensational and the final battles are both memorable and brutal. Jean-Claude Van Damme proves he is more than just a good body or fighting machine--he does some fine acting in this film. One wishes that it could be seen on the large screen--it deserves it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By T O'Brien on May 30, 2003
Format: DVD
Legionnaire is a flashback to the old Foreign Legion films starring Gary Cooper like Beau Geste or Gunga Din. The movie tells the story of a boxer who betrays a French mob boss when he goes back on a deal. He is then forced to join the Foreign Legion when he has nowhere else to turn too. The film follows the training of the new company and then there battles against the Rif tribesmen. This film is very different from most of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, but it is very good. He doesn't fight throughout the movie instead actually talking although there are plenty of action scenes.

Surprisingly, Van Damme is very good as Alain DuChamps, the boxer forced into the Legion. He is very believable in the role. The supporting cast for this movie stands out as above average compared to other Van Damme action movies. Nicholas Farrell is excellent as Macentosh, the ex-soldier with a weakness for gambling. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Alain's friend, Luther, a man fed up with his past and how he's been treated. He is excellent in the supporting role to Van Damme and Farrell. Also starring are Steven Berkoff and Jim Carter. This is an excellent movie with grand landscapes in the African landscape, well put together action scenes, and believable characters. This movie deserved better than its straight to video release. The DVD offers widescreen presentation, a theatrical trailer and teaser, rare photographs of the Foreign Legion in action, and several behind the scenes documentaries and interviews with the cast and crew. There is plenty here for Van Damme fans and also action fans. Check this movie out!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Darren Harrison VINE VOICE on November 18, 2004
Format: DVD
I think the television listing description I read on this movie was misleading - actually no, it was wrong. According to what my TiVo said the story followed a 1920s playboy who returns from a stint in the Foreign Legion to reclaim his former lover (a mobster's girl). Obviously the person who wrote this has never seen this movie. For starters he wasn't so much a playboy as he was a boxer and for second he never returns to France to reclaim his former lover. In fact we learn through the progress of the film that the woman in question has emigrated to the United States.

Okay, enough gripes about how inaccurate tv listings can be - what did I think about the movie in question. It's actually okay as far as Jean Claude VanDamme movies go, except he really doesn't do much in the way of martial arts as he has in previous films. Instead he relies more on a rifle to shoot charging North African tribesmen or fists to straighten out fellow Foreign Legionnaire's who get their kicks out of bullying their weaker colleagues.

Jean Claude plays a boxer who, after reneging on a promise to throw a fight, escapes into the French Foreign Legion to flee the clutches of a murderous mobster. There he is flung headfirst into the North Africa war between the local nomadic tribesmen and the occupying French forces.

What was really a treat was the presence of Steven Berkoff. It's been awhile since I have seen him in a movie. He was a very high profile in the early to mid 1980s in movies such as `Beverly Hills Cop,' `Octopussy' and `Rambo: First Blood Part II' but then seemed to disappear from view. Here he plays the Foreign Legion commander who must lick the raw recruits into shape - and he dominates every scene in which he appears.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jason VINE VOICE on April 16, 2010
Format: DVD
The Jean Claude Van Damme Review Matrix (JCVD-RM)

1. Who is he? A 1920s French boxer named Alain Lefevre, a womanizing champion boxer who refuses to take a dive, and has his eyes/history for a mobster's girlfriend
2. Which family member/friend must be avenged? A long-time friend and boxing promoter gets 86'd after a crooked fight.
3. Does he take his shirt off? And pants in an all male shower, in a rare bare-butt scene for JCVD
4. Does he have sex with a C-List actress? No, but there is that shower...
5. Is there a tournament? No tournament at all, this is a different movie for Van Damme
6. Is training needed for this tournament? Aaaarmy training sir!
7. Does he do the splits in training or in the tournament? No splits are necessary when you have a rifle
8. Does he punch someone in the balls? Sadly, JCVD is breaking all of his movie rules in this one.
9. Does he do a series of flying or 360 kicks? Unbelievably, he doesn't kick at all. I guess being a boxer makes kicking forbidden.
10. Is his enemy unbeatable? A bunch of Berber warriors on horses are hardly worthy of JCVD's awe-inspiring will to win.
11. Does he overcome an injury or other hindrance? Throughout this movie there is more than one person who poses a roadblock for JCVD. The love of his life is lost to him early on. While in the French Foreign Legion he has to team up with a squirrelly Frenchman named Rosetti who can't march more than a day without falling out, a surly black American who breaks every rule, and a posh Brit with a drinking problem who was dishonorably discharged from the British military.
12. Does he win? This might be the first movie since No Retreat No Surrender in which JCVD is not the unequivocal winner and hero of the movie.
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