10 March 2005 | AwesomeWolf
Van Damme does drama
I found 'Legionnaire' for $10 on a rack labelled "Movies that should never have been made!". I had never seen 'Legionnaire', but on the same rack was the Arnie classic 'Conan the Barbarian'. I decided that whoever was running the store obviously didn't know what they were talking about - I'm sure Arnie will forgive them - and so I picked up 'Legionnaire'. If I had known it had a lot more of Jean-Claude Van Damme acting rather than Van Damme beating the **** out of bad guys, I probably would have avoided it. Good thing I gave it a go, as it was actually pretty good.
Van Damme plays Alain Lefevre, a boxer paid to take a dive by a mobster. Alain and his girl-friend have other ideas, and plan to flee France and go to America. After giving his opponent a good butt-kicking, and enraging the mobsters, Alain ends up being chased by police, and finds himself in the French Foreign Legion and deployed to Africa to crush an insurgency in a French colony.
Funnily enough, it is pretty much 'Lionheart' reversed. Other than that, 'Legionnaire' feels more like a war movie than a Van Damme movie. Then again, you can tell Van Damme co-wrote it: He gives himself a lot of acting time, and not much arse-kicking time, but then you have various action clichés popping up and the odd one-liner here and there.
Van Damme's martial-arts skills are not showcased here as much as in his other movies. There are a few boxing scenes, and maybe one kick in the entire movie. The rest of the action is standard war stuff: explosions and gun-play (circa 1924, to be precise).
'Legionnaire' is surprisingly good in the end. Van Damme gets to do something different for a change, and I'll give him credit for it. It is more dramatic than most of his other movies, but that should not stop Van Damme fans - and even non-fans of Van Damme - from seeing it - 7/10