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4.1 out of 5 stars28
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 30 December 2000
At a glance at this film, you may be led to believe it is going to be a martial arts film, but you couldn't be any more wrong, there is only one kick Van Damme does in the film and it is to the shin, while Van Damme is lying down, but this is a very different, yet good Van Damme movie. With a good story and plot, and strong acting, yes acting, Van Damme proves what people have been saying all along, he can actually act! and the supporting cast do a great job as well.
The scenario backgrounds are pleasing to the eye, and good directing on the battle scene's. It's just a shame it didn't get released into the theaters.
The only reason this DVD doesn't get 5 stars, is because of the extra's, because there are no extra's, which is something you would expect in most DVD's now. But as for the film it's top notch!
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on 2 November 2014
I think we can safely say that Van Damme's performance here is well short of what's required for an Oscar. The movie has an interesting twist on the old motif of a man running away to join the Legion. Van Damme plays a boxer who refuses to take a dive in a fight for a mobster and, in order to save his hide from the mobster's re-education squad, he takes a hike to North Africa. The mob goes looking for him after his photo appears in a newspaper and the story of his duel with the mobster's hitmen is quite interesting. The film is spoiled by some unintentionally funny bits but if you suspend your critical faculties you'll find this is an entertaining bit of cerebral chewing gum.
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on 6 May 2003
This period action/adventure piece is, for me, the pinacle of Jean-Claudes career. Although it steers clear of his usual high kicking festival-of-violence slapdowns, Legionnaire supplies some big action set-pieces and has it's sights set on something a bit grander and more dramatic than the usual van Damme fayre. It's a story of betrayal, love, honour and comradeship in an unforgiving Morrocan desert between the two World Wars. When he double crosses a gangster, van Damme's left no option but to do a runner and join the Foreign Legion. It's here he meets up with a host of outcasts from society and once their initial training's out the way it's action ahoy as they have scrap after scrap with the local Morrocans that aren't exactly thrilled to have their country invaded by Westerners. Of course, no self respecting gangster's going to let anyone get away with ripping them off, so the goons aren't too far behind our hero as he ships out to Africa.
The big plusses here are that Jean-Claude gets to stretch himself with a bit of acting (for a change), granted it's fairly basic stuff, but he's better than Stallone, Seagal or Arnie have been when the same's been asked of them. He's got able support from the likes of Steven Berkoff and Colin Farrell who both do what's expected of them in their roles of the tough Legionnaire sergeant and the disgraced Brit officer respectively. Aswell as that, director Peter MacDonald (Rambo 3) deserves some credit for putting something together that looks as good as this does. He proved with Rambo 3 that he can make a desert look good, and Legionnaire is equally blessed with some stunning cinematography. The action set-pieces are well handled, and although the script may well be littered with the usual barrackroom situations and characters, it's all done surprisingly well - more like March Or Die than Kickboxer and all the better for it.
The disc is a decent enough affair - it's been cropped down from its original 2.35:1 to 1.78:1 although it's still nicely framed and the cinematography doesn't suffer too badly. The 5.1 audio kicks some life into the onscreen action with some quite thunderous cannonfire from time to time, but the only extra here is a trailer. Compare that to the R1 special edition that comes with 2 commentaries, a couple of featurettes and other related bonus material (although admittedly the 2.35:1 transfer's non-anamorphic and the audio's 2.0 surround) or the French SE that's got a 40 minute "making of..." and an anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer aswell as the 5.1 audio, and you start to feel that despite it's fairly inexpensive pricetag the UK disc could have gone the extra mile.
The film's a corker though, and once you get past the lack of bonus material it's still good value for the money.
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on 30 July 2013
This picture is not the high kicking Van Damme of Bloodsport, instead i is e really good adventure story that rely's more on the characters than the special effects.

This picture would appeal to anyone who likes their action with a historical twist.

A really great film.
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on 12 October 2014
ludicrous plot and the usual wooden acting from van damme. however because of my interest in the french foreign legion i thought i would give it a go. wish i had not bothered, a waste of time.
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on 1 April 2011
Really enjoyed it, apart from a few cheesy scenes and historical errors, it was a genuinely good film. It had some very good action scenes, acting and some amusing scenes.
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on 23 March 2014
It met all of my expectations and then some. The color is outstanding and the translation on the money. Thank you for the ability to get foreign movies this good.
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on 10 March 2013
Really good old kick boxing film that I hasn't seen for years so thought at the price I paid why not..really enjoyed watching it again..thank you
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on 24 March 2012
i loved this film when it came out - funny when it did i did not see it. bought the dvd after watching it on Channel 5. damn i knew i must have it. i have seen other legionnaire based films. they are all good and have a great hardened cast but none surpass this one. i wish it had more to offer on dvd and i wish there was more about the lead character and his failed attempt to save the woman he loves from the gangster - spoiler alert! - the attempt was a disaster that cost him his love and sacrificed the people who cared for him most. now he is nothing but a grunt fighting in a land that hates him and in a war that benefits French colonialism.

he meets great characters and the bonds that grow amongst the men along with their hard-nosed Commander (Steven Berkoff) creates empathy for a doomed trek across the sahara. alliances made and betrayals with surprising twists will shock you at unexpected turns of the last Act.

watch it and hopefully you love it as much for its action as there are no silly spinning kicks but hardcore punch-ups and brutal close quarters sword fights. there are dramatic tales with interesting main plot character background refrences that come out in the calm before the inevitable doom. you feel for every man even the bad guys (gangster assassins) - they're all in for one hell of a merciless final battle against the freedom fighters. the freedom fighters dont say much but their defiance is admirable with wide angle shots of their ambush attacks; well directed and choreographed battle scenes like a docu-film.

the version i bought has no special features or subtitles - an early dvd release but hopefully a new release with blu-ray will do some justice.

one of Van Dame's best movies. love it!
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2004
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.
The action scenes are also well staged and you feel the danger in which the troops are thrust into, the movie makers also do a good job of conveying the confusion and chaos that comes from close quarters fighting.
If you enjoyed other Jean Claude movies then chances are this one will also hit the spot. It's not quite as good as `Sudden Death' (my favorite Jean Claude picture) but it's an entertaining ride.
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