Legionnaire

Drug casualty and future Scientologist Jean-Claude Van Damme—who is beginning to eerily resemble a moving, talking wax statue of himself—stars in Legionnaire as a Parisian boxer who's forced to flee a gang of ruthless thugs after refusing to throw a fight. Running through the streets of Paris, Van Damme luckily encounters an all-night Foreign Legion Recruiting Station and soon relocates to Morocco, where he and his fellow Legionnaires engage in a series of fearsome battles with a heartless Berber tribe. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Legionnaire is not Van Damme's less-than-remarkable onscreen shenanigans, but the film's perverse distribution schedule. For some reason known only to people foolish enough to have sunk $35 million into a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Legionnaire is making its debut on home video, with a theoretical jump to the big screen a few months later. Unfortunately, this novel means of distribution is pretty much the only compelling thing about the film. Otherwise, for better or worse, it's just a fairly standard Van Damme vehicle: predictable, sluggish, and dramatically inept. Van Damme still can't act, but at least he's not playing twins, as he has in what seems like half of his other films. If anything really sets Legionnaire apart, it's the film's strangely old-fashioned tone: Apart from a few curse words and the usual violence, Legionnaire could just as easily have been filmed in the '40s and starred Tyrone Power. Much of the supporting cast, in fact, seems to have been shipped in directly from an old WWII programmer. While Van Damme fans will likely enjoy Legionnaire, those who aren't already obsessed with him should avoid this competently made if unremarkable bit of cinematic space-filler.

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