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  • Legionnaire is beautifully photographed and contains both an engaging story (loosely based on Beau Geste) and good performances by the actors. Underrated from the start, the picture undeservedly went straight to video. However, it is not a 10 out of 10 as some suggest. The story and characters fall too often into clichés and some of the roles could have been given more depth. Particularly the love story, mostly told in flash backs, is depicted with emotionally appealing pictures and music but remains too superficial to be fully satisfying.

    This film had the potential to be great with a bit more emphasis on the drama part and toning down the more usual action flick formula (the action scenes are well done, though). However, here is hope that van Damme will make more serious movies, even if they have martial arts and action themes. I always liked him as an actor. There is an honesty and modesty to van Damme's work that is missing in most Hollywood products.
  • This is better than most Van Damme films and it has a great score. The film is cliched, but it's a Van Damme picture. I don't think any Van Damme fan wold have it any other way. Some have said that Van Damme reminds them of Schwarzenegger, but I personally think the comparison runs closer along the lines of Charles Bronson. Jean-Claude Van Damme is the B-movie actor of our generation and to me that is a major compliment. Some might not like his accent or his fancy karate, but his films are usually entertaining and solid action pieces. I remember a long time ago somebody said to me that Steven Segal would outlast Van Damme, well all I have to say is "Has anybody really liked the last 4 or 5 Segal pictures?" People should appreciate Van Damme for the action star he is and not the actor he may or may never become.
  • nerph202 October 2003
    This has to be one of the oddest, yet best Van Damme films ever. It's not chop-socky martial arts kickboxing crud, and it isn't mindless sci-fi action... it's a war drama. And a surprisingly good one. Van Damme plays Alain, a boxer who is paid to take a dive, but who instead flees and joins the French Foreign Legion, where he learns about friendship, honor, and fighting to the last. Sound like a normal Van Damme movie? Far from it. Sheldon Lettich's script, while somewhat cliche, is very well put together. The acting is surprisingly top notch, with even Jean-Claude Van Damme himself turning in a good performance. What a shame this movie never made it to theaters. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys an exciting, epic war film. I give it 8/10.
  • 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
  • winner5516 July 2006
    This is the least typical Van Damme film - and his absolute best. really, if you come to this film expecting a typical Van Damme film, please go see Double Impact or Hard Target again.

    Based on a real incident during the 1925 Morocco campaign (and most of us didn't even know there was such a campaign), and highly suggestive of the many versions of Beau Geste that women have wept over in movie-houses for decades, this is a story about the French Foreign Legion. Viewers should be warned that the slogan of the Legion at this time was "March or die!" The only thing that kept these men from killing each other was that the Berbers were so much better at killing them.

    The film has an epic structure to it. The cinematography doesn't quite match this, but it is rock-solid. The actors are all very able. Clichés do drift through the film, but the final battle makes up for most of these.

    And, oh, yes, Van Damme can actually act. Quite well, when he doesn't let it get to his head.
  • Most Jean Claude Van Damm films consist of a martial arts contest of which he must over come great odds to win (Lion Heart, Kickboxer, etc). This film only has one hand to hand fight scene at the beginning, and the rest is a film about the French Foriegn Legion. A must see for any fans of military history as it is actually quite accurate to the times.
  • I bought the DVD off the sales rack at Wal-Mart, thinking I could pawn it off after once viewing it. . . .not expecting much of it, even though I am a fan of Van Damme. BUT, it surprised me as Van Damme expresses his DRAMATIC skills! Not his usuall puncher-kicker film, he tells the story of how it is for a legionnaire watching people he knows being picked off one-by-one in the heated Hell of war! Although it's not a true story, it IS, however, true to the way it is with any heartfull man who joins the Foreign Legion and gets caught up in such Hellish realities of hatred in combat. Leaving behind all he's ever known & felt comfortable with and fighting for a whole different cause, and finding out later the trespasses that happen which can result in hatred. You can feel the loneliness he felt as the Arabs ride away & he's the only one left standing there in the death, rubble, and smoke of what was his fort in Northern Africa. Certainly a welcomed change from Van Damme's usuall martial arts mayhem. It's a keeper!
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme can hold his head high with Legionnaire.

    Directed by Peter MacDonald (Rambo III), Legionnaire is a slick, well-mounted production that, amid the action and beautifully arid locations, deals with matters close to Van Damme's heart - friendship, loyalty, sacrifice.

    The script, by Sheldon Lettich and Rebecca Morrison (story by Lettich and Van Damme), is notable for the anguish it puts its hero through, and for avoiding the more conventional storyline it initially appears to be setting up. Instead, the film concludes on a more resonant note.

    The most rewarding aspect of the film is probably the friendship Van Damme's character forms with three other Legionnaires. There are some terrific performances here, and it's obvious that MacDonald is as comfortable with his actors as he is with handling the battle sequences (the final battle is particularly bravura stuff). What a pleasure it also is to see Steven Berkoff back in a big Panavision production!

    Composer John Altman's sweeping theme and heavy percussion in the opening credits really gets the anticipation going for Legionnaire. And, I'm pleased to say, the film pulls through.
  • A different style Van Damme movie, using no kicks or any fancy martial arts moves. JCVD plays a Legionnaire in this, as in 'Lionheart'. He has a boxing match in this movie, in the beginning. Well directed, and good story-line. It's another good Van Damme movie that's very enjoyable. Recommended for everyone.
  • mm-392 March 2002
    I like history movies, so I like this one. Nice change for Van Damm he plays a different role. The film is interesting to follow. We have the reasons why people joined, and the harshness of being one. A solid 6, and I would watch this film when they show it on TBS.
  • Im thinking this is even better now than when it was released. After recent years of Hollywood abusing our intellect with CGI, terrible dialogue and unrealistic diversity. Well unrealistic anything really. This kind of old fashioned slow action stands out as a great movie.
  • Let me be honest and say it from the beginning. I am a huge Van Damme fan. Now that the biased is declared lets get into the review. Legionnaire was the highest straight to DVD movie ever made. Yes, Van Damme was so huge back in the day's of 90's action films that this film's cost was over $20 million dollars and it didn't even get Cinema release. Which was a shame. The film is definitely not as bad as some of the action movies we see today. Van Damme plays Alain Lefevre, a boxer who is paid to take a dive. Alain is to proud to do that and win's the fight that costs gangsters a lot of money, he tries to flee France and go to America, But after being the fight 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.

    You can tell Van Damme co-wrote it: He gives himself a lot of acting time on screen as to try and break away from the typical films he usually does, and not much ass-kicking time, but then again you still 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 some fighting scene in the end, but really different from all of his other films fight choreography. This really does film like a whole different genre for Van Damme to tackle.

    '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, and I can say that the film was still enjoyable to watch and much more enjoyable to watch because of Van Damme's performance.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Legionnaire is an entertaining film about a French boxer Alain Lefevre (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who tries to escape from his troubles with some Mafiosos by joining the French Legion and fighting for French colonialists in Morocco. Van Damme has never been good with challenging roles, which is why it was a good idea to saddle him with the relatively safe and likable character of Alain with little margin for error. The filmmakers also did something else that was smart: they surrounded Van Damme with interesting characters (played by rather good actors), which automatically raises the interest-level for this film. Steven Berkoff is clearly having a lot of fun with the villainous character Sergeant Steinkampf and we have just as much fun watching him. An under-appreciated talent, Adewale Akinnuoye-Aghbaie, does a really decent job playing Luther who decides to join the French Legion to escape the racism of the South along with a bogus murder charge. Then there is Nicholas Farrell who delivers a wonderfully well conceived performance as the British recruit Mackintosh, a man with a compulsive gambling habit, who is renowned for his witticisms, and even capable of speaking a few Arabic phrases (which are most useful in a brothel). The Arabic phrases are completely unnecessary, but much appreciated all the same. Finally Ana Sofrenovic makes for a beautiful love interest, Katrina, who we would like to see reunited with Alain and broken free of the clutches of the evil mob boss. As a result of all these factors in addition to some great cinematography and some pretty good action and survival in the desert scenes, Legionnaire hums along quite entertainingly right until the end.

    7/10
  • RokurotaMakabe16 July 2011
    "Legionnaire" is one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's more serious movies. Here, he tried to take a break from his usual action packed movies and appear in a picture that focused on story and character development. The result is a film that doesn't really work that well in the end, but it is definitely not that bad either.

    The film relies more on drama than on action scenes and in spite of the fact that this represents a pleasant departure for Van Damme from his usual movies, this is also one of the film's main weaknesses. The movie doesn't know exactly what it wants to be. There were times when the film was a little too slow and some of the actors seemed a little uncomfortable in the scenes that demanded some acting abilities. On the other hand, the film makes good use of its setting (desert) and it has a good atmosphere. I also found the ending to be pretty good and thought that Van Damme did a decent job as an actor, an improvement from his previous roles.

    In the end, "Legionnaire" is a nearly good movie, but I had the impression that they could have made it better. Also, if I were to compare it to Van Damme's other effort from 1998, "Knock Off", this is a lot better.

    My rating: 5,5/10
  • Fletch-3512 June 1999
    Oh the humanity! Van Damme does us all proud with his fine performance in this wonderful dramatic/action movie. Great story, top-notch acting, and wonderful directing, it's a wonder why they didn't orginally release this into the theaters. Departing from his usual action/karate persona, Van Damme gets into a serious role and pulls it off. This is a definite one to get, go to the video store now and pick up a copy. Van Damme hasn't let you down. 5 stars.
  • This film never stops with action! Great plot, acting.

    This movie is a potential for a continuation of the story, though Van Damme isn't known for his sequels. It's too bad this film was never given the chance at the box offices in America
  • It seems to be the popular thing to do to jump on the bandwagon and badmouth Van Damme for being a bad actor or for making one bad movie after another. I have always claimed to be a fan, but mostly just because when I was a kid I watched movies like Kickboxer and Bloodsport and Death Warrant over and over. To be honest, I hadn't really seen many more of his movies for years, except for Hard Target, which I found less impressive than his early martial arts films.

    But recently I bought 16 Van Damme movies on two DVDs (for 20 yuan – about $2.75 - thanks to mainland China's total indifference to copyright laws), and as I watch them I have noticed something important. It seems that most of the reason that Van Damme is criticized is because of things like goofy camaraderie or cheesy heroic lines, things like that. But it seems noteworthy that in just about every movie he is in, he is fighting for justice or to be a good father or good husband or to protect his fellow man from criminals or to avenge a loved one's violent death. Van Damme represents good human values in a way that most other action stars don't. I feel like he deserves a lot more credit for that than he ever gets.

    Besides that, the guy can speak five languages. Did you know? WOW.

    In Legionnaire he plays a boxer who's paid to take a dive in the second round, but when he, ah, accidentally beats the tar out of his opponent, he suddenly finds himself being pursued by mobsters and police, which quickly dashes his and his girlfriend's plans of getting out of France and going to America. Soon he finds himself an unwilling member of the French Foreign Legion, which employs the psychotic idea of training soldiers to exist solely for the honor of dying in battle, and is run like a prison with racks of guns. They are sent to Africa to crush an insurgency, resulting in more of a war film than a martial arts film.

    But I have no problem with that. There is a notable appearance of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a clearly talented actor who recently wasted his undeniable on screen charm on such backwards TV shows as Lost and Oz, and here is again asked to do something terrible – he takes on an American accent, complete with ridiculous lines like "The only thing that keeps a man livin', you gots ta have a dream…" But there is a friendship that forms between Alain Lefevre (Van Damme) and Adawale's character, Luther, that is pretty good, and allows for the most tense and moving scene in the film.

    Given that so much of the movie plays like a prison film, since the Legionnaires are generally forced members, some of the scenes are a little strange, such as the one where they argue about the best way to hand wash laundry. Then again, it seems like some of the lines between soldiers were put in for comic relief ("What's the matter, don't like girls?" "Of course not, I'm British!").

    Speaking of which, for how moving the friendship between Alain and Luther is, Alain has an undeniably cheesy friendship with the British guy, although it is also a very unstable but powerful relationship in many ways, and also allows for some good dramatic tension near the end of the film. Alain is also the good guy that sticks up for the underdogs who can't defend themselves against the more brutish soldiers very well, which doesn't seem to make him many friends. Also, soon after their first battle, he walks around shirtless showing off his chiseled body and making enemies effortlessly.

    The battle scenes, by the way, are also pretty good, much better than I would have expected from Van Damme, if only because war scenes are not what he usually does. But here they're impressive, although the end of the movie is a pretty significant disappointment. It builds up this remarkably in-depth story and then just stops, like they ran out of money. The leader of the enemy insurgency lets Alain live so he can tell his leader that this is what they can expect if they keep invading their country, and then Van Damme heads back into the sunset. It seems like what happens next should have been considered important, and it leaves me with the feeling that the movie ends just as the real climax was set up.

    But nonetheless, I remember I was working in a video store in Fresno when the movie was released ten years ago, and for some reason I never watched it, but I'm glad that I have. It has plenty of shortcomings, but it is definitely worth watching.
  • bird_of_prey3831 March 2003
    I am not really fond of Jon Claude Van Damme but this was a good film. I think he shows himself to be a decent actor when he is not in a crappy action movie, he should do it more often. This is a solid movie with good action and a decent script. 9/10
  • Legionnaire was a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted and action packed war epic about the French Legion starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. This is not your typical Van Damme bout, this movie has no martial arts at all. Van Damme plays a boxer who is told to throw a fight, he does not and after defeating his opponent he runs out of the arena in hope to catch a train to America, he does not and being desperate to live he quickly joins the French Legion. The movie has a great battle scenes and good performances from everyone including Van Damme, he proves with this that he can indeed act. This is also a war epic that is under 100 minutes, very rare considering that most war movies have a running time of over 145 minutes. It is a good thing because those movies tend to drag, unlike this which was perfectly paced. A great war epic, definitly check this one out. 10/10.
  • Ah yes the French foreign legion , something every schoolboy with a sense of adventure has thought about joining , and something film makers have dedicated a lot of celluloid to .

    Jean Claude Van Damme made a previous film set against the background of the legion: AWOL ( Aka LIONHEART ) but this is far superior . In fact AWOL and LEGIONNAIRE are complete opposites since one has Van Damme running away from the regiment to become a prize fighter while the other has Van Damme as a prize fighter who runs off to join the legion ! But like I said LEGIONNAIRE is the better film . It`s enjoyable in a very cliched way , and I mean very very cliched , no cliche is left unturned but at least we don`t see Van Damme strip off his shirt and engage the Arab hordes in fisticuffs

    If you liked MARCH OR DIE you`ll like this movie
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I consider this film belonging to the few JCVD made in the best way. Look for WE DIE YOUNG, LUKAS, WAKE OF DEATH, and this one. I say that this film, as the others, are not good because of him, but despite him; and his presence did not spoiled nor jeopardized the whole feature. When JVCD acted in craps, those films were genuinely craps, and not because of him. So, to summarize, JCVD has a certain potential to be convincing. As Nick Cage except that Nick Cage has more potential than the Belgian. He only needs to pay his alimony and other debts, so that he play in five films per year. So, back to this film, I love the ending SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS because there is no winner concerning the leads. Only one survives, but as a loser.
  • "Legionnaire" is a forgettable politically correct version of the French-Foreign-Legion genre. The plot is linear (this is not a fault). Van Damme is a boxer who swindles a gangster boss in the Marseille of the 1920's, in the meantime causing the death of the boss' brother. To save himself, he joins the Foreign Legion, goes to North Africa, and, after the usual hard training, reaches a fortress in the desert, where his regiment is readily destroyed by the rebels of the Rif.

    Political correctness is abundant: Van Damme is a Polish immigrant, roughly treated by French people, needless to say. At the Legion there is a black fellow from the States, who introduces himself uttering a speech against the racism of the Americans (what an original idea!): of course, he will be Van Damme's best friend in the regiment. Well, I guess that in the twenties people were really so racist that the very idea of enlisting a black in a regiment of whites was just unconceivable. In old movies we could see a single legionnaire resisting to hundreds of Arabs. Here, for the sake of political correctness, the exact contrary happens: a whole regiment of legionnaires is swept off in few minutes by the Rif rebels. Most predictably, Van Damme is nobly spared by the chief of the Arabs, who does not miss the chance to deliver an anti-colonialist sermon. However, in "Legionnaire" we also find some stereotypes in the old-Foreign-Legion-movies style: the ruthless sergeant, the inept officer, a number of bad guys who rescue their honor with a heroic death.

    To conclude, let me remark a nonsense too preposterous even for a genre not celebrated for likelihood. The French boss recognizes his fiend Van Damme in a photo on a newspaper (a reportage with pictures at the Foreign Legion, in the 1920's?? And a boss so attentive in checking newspapers??). At any rate, he forces a pair of gangsters to join the Legion to take his revenge on Van Damme (??). The subscription lasted 5 years (as stated in the movie)! And how can the thugs be sure to be enlisted exactly in Van Damme's regiment? And why Van Damme does not report the two killers to military authorities, or at least inform his mates of the danger? What about bribing some comrades of Van Damme to shoot him, thus avoiding all this mess?
  • And who says Jean-Claude Van Damme can't act? Huh? This excellent film of survival and friendship shows all the anti-Van Dammers where they stand. In my opinion, Jean-Claude deserves an OSCAR for this one. I rate this one a definite 10 on my KICK ASS SCALE!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This may be a better kind of movie for Van Damme, no kicks. I love the kicking action, but this movie has but one kick, it's to the shin and Van Damme's lying down when he gives it. Right off the bat that proves that this is not your typical Van Damme film. It all about dreams. All the character, primary and supporting bring their dreams into the story and show how following these dreams has led them into the "Legion Etrangere". From there we get the bonus of having a sort of inside look at a military element that's not very well known. This part could be a spoiler, so if you have not seen this movie and don't want to know then stop reading. The story of friendships that are forged, then lost as they all bite the dust, leaving Van Damme, alone in the desert, still clinging to his dream. The ending is not happy, as not all ending are and it leaves a tear in your eye. In this movie, maybe the first, Van Damme proves what a lot of people have been saying all along, that he actually can act. It's top class for him, and it's just too bad it wasn't released in theaters because it could have really bolstered his dwindling career. The supporting cast also did a great job, ALL of them. This movie was great.
  • As I said in my comment above, this is a great Jean Claude Vam Damme film, which he also co-wrote. This proves that he can actually act, and not just be a muscle-bound man who kills everyone. The battle scenes are epic-like, the acting top-notch and the script brilliantly done.

    Legionnaire is set in the 1920s France about Alain (Jean Claude Van Damme), a boxer who was payed by the French mafia to lose a fight, but he breaks his promise and tries to flee the country with his much-loved girlfriend, but that plan goes wrong, so he's forced to join the French Legion and fight rebels in Morroco. There he meets makes three men he befriends: Luther (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), an African-American man trying to have a better life, Guido (Daniel Caltagirone) a Spainish man trying to prove his bravery to marry his girlfriend, and Mackintosh (Nicholas Farrell) a British man trying to redeem himself. They're under the command of Steinkampf (Steven Berkoff), their commander who will do anything to win. They go to battle with the local rebels, which is hell. Not only this, but mafia hitmen also join the Legion to kill Alain.

    This is a seriously underrated Van Damme film and is surely his best work. It's a crime that this didn't make it into the cinemas and get all the acclaim it deserves, yet pieces of shit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) get in and it's a massive hit. This is a classic from start to finish, even it's brilliant (perhaps corny to some) ending. I hope Van Damme keeps making these types of films and continues showing his true acting ability. Slyvester Stallone was thought to have not much acting ability, but he made Copland (1997), which got him a lot of acclaim. Perhaps one day people will finally see this and let him back into show business.

    Rating: 5/5
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