Friday, January 10, 2014

Lionheart (1990) Review:

With the successful releases of Bloodsport (1988) & Kickboxer (1989), Jean-Claude Van Damme was on his way to be a big martial arts star attraction. A year later Van Damme would return to one of his friends that helped him make it to stardom. That man is Sheldon Lettich, the screenwriter for Bloodsport (1988). Here Lettich is the screenwriter along with Van Damme and also directs the film in which Van Damme stars in. Does it all play out though, not exactly to what some may want or expect. For most Van Damme fans it will please, but for others it'll annoy beyond belief.

Lyon (Van Damme) & Joshua (Page)
Van Damme plays French Foreign Legion deserter named Lyon who takes it upon himself to travel to L.A. at whatever cost to help out his brother and sister-in-law who are in need of financial help. For him deserting the Foreign Legion, his captain sends out two spies to try and find him. I'm beginning to see a pattern where Van Damme plays a character that is so devoted to his family that he'll travel half way around the world to see them. He did that for Bloodsport (1988) & Kickboxer (1989). I hope he starts to play some other kinds of characters because this is starting to get too typical for him. Upon getting to L.A., he befriends a bum named Joshua (Harrison Page) who helps him earn a load of money by doing local fights for him.

Through Joshua, he then meets Cynthia (Deborah Rennard), the head of some big coporation that sets up these fights. It is here that Lyon acquires his name Lionheart and where he must choose to fight for himself or his family. Now this is an ok plot if it were executed in the right way but that isn't accomplished here. There is not one shred of a background on any character until about some ways into the running time and that's agitating because what does the audience have to connect with? They won't have anyone to sympathize for because no one knows what they're going through except that someone was hurt.

The character development is another flaw. It's not that its absent but more of badly placed timing. There are some characters that will all of a sudden change their mind within a split second and expect the audience to be ok with their decision. It doesn't work like that. The characters themselves are nothing to be fond of either. The only two likable individuals are Lyon and Joshua. That is it. The character of Joshua actually has the most character development, which helps make him likable for audiences. Van Damme also shows good emotion but it’s hard to watch him and Joshua alone to expect entertainment.

Cynthia (Deborah Rennard) -_________-
None of the other characters stand out or make themselves worth standing out. And some viewers will loathe the Cynthia character. She's mean spirited, two faced and poorly acted by Ms. Deborah Rennard. The choreographed fight scenes are nothing great either. In fact, with every fight, Van Damme's opponents and fight sets get stranger and stranger. For example, an arena made of cars? Why would anyone want to risk their car being damaged in the fight? Or an arena made from a dry pool? Can these people be any cheaper? And the music by John Scott isn't good either. Some of it so out of place it feels like it doesn't belong at all. A hard watch to enjoy.

Van Damme and only one of his co-stars are the only things worth watching here. The rest of the cast is forgettable along with silly fight scenes, bad music and extremely schlocky writing.

Points Earned --> 2:10

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