Van Damme Does Drama
Boxer, Alain Lefevre (Jean-Claude Van Damme) doesn't throw fights but finds himself with little choice when paid by a mobster to take a dive in the 2nd. Unfortunately he doesn't and he not only wins but plans to flee to America with the mobster's girlfriend who was once his sweetheart. But things don't go Alain's way and he ends up joining the French foreign legion in the hope of a new life away from his past. Whilst Alain makes some friends such as Luther (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) he becomes frustrated by Sgt. Steinkampf (Steven Berkoff) who goes out of his way to pick on him and his new friends. But things take an interesting twist when to of the mobsters heavies show up, sent in to make him pay.
There are actors whose movies I watch because I know what I am going to get be it Steve Austin, Steven Seagal and yes Jean-Claude Van Damme which is why when you end up watching something from one of them you weren't expecting, well it leaves me conflicted. That is the case with "Legionnaire" because being a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie I wanted him kicking butt and taking down the heavies who have shown up looking for him. I want him and his new friends to unite and give the cruel Sgt. Steinkampf a lesson in respect. But none of that is what I got in "Legionnaire" and whilst I wouldn't say I was disappointed I was unsatisfied having watched for the trademark Van Damme action and got almost none of it.
Now maybe the trouble with "Legionnaire" is that Jean-Claude Van Damme was simply the wrong person for the movie because of what people expect from him, Yet at the same time he plays the part of Alain Lefevre quite nicely, never delivering any impressive acting but delivering the conflict of the character when it comes to dealing with the situations he finds himself in and also the people. But as such what you do get in "Legionnaire" is this drama of a man who joined the legion and made friends, made tough choices when it came to them as well as standing up to the bully of his superior. And maybe with a different actor, someone you don't expect specific things off, the drama and the character would have been stronger than the feeling of when is Van Damme going to high kick someone.
What this all boils down to is that "Legionnaire" is actually an okay movie it is just that it isn't what you expect from a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and probably would have been a lot more entertaining with someone else in the role who you don't expect certain things of.