The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Legionnaire (1998)


I actually thought I had already posted this film, but when I went through my posts, I found that I hadn't. That's a good thing, because I'm starting to run out of Van Damme films, and he doesn't spit them out as frequently anymore as Seagal and Dolph do. We're all eagerly awaiting JCVD to be released on DVD here in the States, and of course there's that Universal Soldiers thing he's doing with Dolph...

Legionnaire has Van Damme as a boxer in 1920s France who is paid to throw a fight, but doesn't, and ends up killing some bad guys in self defense. As a last resort, he runs to the French Foreign Legion to escape prosecution. His prize: he's sent to fight in Algeria. While he's there, he has to deal with the desert, the Berbers, and even bad guys from the crime boss he screwed over by not throwing the fight. Anyway, it all ends in a big blow out at a French fort that's under siege by the Berbers.


What the hell was this? Jean-Claude of Arabia? Really? He had like two decent fight scenes, and that was it. This was a bad war movie, but unlike say Sahara, which had Bogart, this had Van Damme, so there were no redeeming qualities. Had the people making it had half a brain, they would've rewrote the entire script so Van damme single-handedly took out the Berbers Die Hard-style. Maybe they overrun the fort, and he's like in the basement looking for something, and he avoids being taken in the initial sweep. Then he slowly takes them out one by one...

This is the unfortunate result when a great action actor tries to do something "serious". Why not just make another movie where you beat the crap out of Bolo Yeung? That's what we want to see. Why couldn't he have been the Berber leader? Van Damme's old nemesis leading Algerian tribesman against the oppressive French colonial force. It would've been great. Think of the conflict generated in the viewer's mind: root for Van Damme, and you're rooting for French colonial power; but root for the underdog Algerians, and you're rooting for the evil Bolo Yeung. That sounds like my kind of movie.


If you're wondering, there is the gratuitous Van Damme buttcheeks scene. Unlike many of his others, though, here he shares the buttcheek spotlight with a whole bunch of other buttcheeks. Here's the question for my female readers: is this enough for you? What I mean is, considering all the scantily to not-at-all clad women in action movies for us guys to look at, is the perennial Van Damme buttcheek shot enough? What about the Dolph pecs and abs shot? Or the Seagal in a baggy sweatshirt shot? Are you forced to turn to the romantic comedy for your eye candy? I can't say I blame you if you do. Matthew McConaughey is probably much better than Van Damme's buttcheeks.

I looked up the French Foreign Legion on Wikipedia just for my own personal edification. It is still an active force, and they currently have troops in places like Djibouti and Afghanistan. They could make a Legionnaire 2 where the grandson of the guy Van Damme played goes to Afghanistan or Djibouti and fights Bolo Yeung in order to right the wrongs of the previous film. It could be the Die Hard-esque film it always should've been. Who would play Sarkozy? Gary Busey, of course.


After this there are two more Van Damme films other than JCVD that qualify for inclusion on the DTVC: No Retreat, No Surrender, and Black Eagle. The kicker with both of these is Netflix doesn't have them, so I'd have to buy them on Amazon. The former isn't even on DVD. Considering JCVD is coming out on April, 28th, I probably won't get to the other two before then.

If you're a huge Van Damme fan, I imagine you've already seen this, so there's no need in me advising you on it. If you're a huge action fan, though, and you haven't seen this, I'd say skip it. It's just not what you need to be doing with your time. It's not an action film as much as it's a bad war movie. Go see The Shepherd: Border Patrol instead.

For more info:


  1. I saw this one back while I was on my Van Damme kick in high school. It was underwhelming. And yes, I was wondering about the obligatory butt shot. I couldn't remember if this one had it in it or not. And no, it's not enough. More butt shots are needed.

  2. Van Damme's buttcheeks or Matthew McConaughey's?