Legionnaire (1998)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller  |   Release Date - Feb 9, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Connor McMadden

Fans of Jean-Claude Van Damme, prepare to be disappointed. Legionnaire is something other than a pure action film, lacking the explosive martial arts sequences that audiences have come to expect of "the Muscles from Brussels." Instead, it is a dual story, the tale of a fugitive wrapped in a homage to the French Foreign Legion. Van Damme plays Alain, a French boxer on the run from the mob after refusing to take a dive. After the mobsters gun down his best friend, he enlists in the Foreign Legion for a tour of duty in North Africa. It is a hellish place, filled with Bedouin raiders and, after a while, pursuing hit men. While Van Damme tries to stay alive, he befriends an assortment of fellow legionnaires, all hard-luck cases, who help him deal with his sadness over a girl left behind. These story threads never quite come together; everything simply gets knotted around clumps of gratuitous, sentimental flashbacks. Vam Damme's presence rarely stands out, not even in the big battle scenes where he's just seen firing a single-shot rifle like the rest of boys. Nevertheless, the film looks pretty. But the eye candy inevitably proves dissatisfying in an abrupt finale that leaves one wondering if the producers ran out of money.