It’s been awhile since I last saw the Jean-Claude Van Damme action hit Lionheart, so it was nice of MVD to send over a review copy from their MVD Rewind Collection. I have to admit that I’m surprised it holds up as well as it does, and it makes for a perfect night flick to check out for Van Damme and action movie fans.
The plot has Van Damme playing Leon Gautier, a French legionnaire who goes AWOL to America when he learns his brother has been hurt badly by some nasty gangsters he’s made deals with. It isn’t long before he catches up with his brother’s wife and daughter and tries to reconnect with his sister-in-law Helene and his niece. Helene doesn’t want anything to do with Leon as she blames him for what happened to her husband, and with some legionnaire soldiers on his trail, Leon sets off to find the gangsters responsible for hurting his family.
This leads him to learn about an underground fighting ring that’s lead by Cynthia (Deborah Rennard), the one responsible for pulling Leon’s brother into this dangerous place. He’ll need the help and guidance of a street hustler who soon becomes his fight manager named Joshua (Harrison Page) to rise to the top of the fighting ring and get revenge on those involved with hurting his brother.
Co-written by Van Damme and director Sheldon Lettich who makes his debut with this movie after writing Bloodsport, this action piece still holds up strong after nearly thirty years. It has just the right amount of action and touchy drama that showcased Van Damme’s talent for kicking butt while also letting him test out his acting chops. MVD did a good job with the transfer, as everything looks and sounds better than it ever has, though you can tell the quality drops a bit when watching the extended version and the extra scenes aren’t as cleaned up as the rest of the film.
Special features are where MVD really shines in their releases, and this one is no exception. There’s some audio commentary by Sheldon Lettich and Harrison Page on the Extended Cut of the film where they discuss making the movie and more, ‘Lionheart: The Inside Story” is a new extra that features interviews with cast and crew members including Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, director/co-writer Sheldon Lettich, producer Eric Karson, along with Harrison Page, Deborah Rennard and Brian Thompson.
Some other new extras include more interviews with Van Damme and others with ”Inside Lionheart with the Filmmakers and Cast”, and ”Lionheart’: Behind the Fights” where they go into more behind the scenes stuff about the film as well as the fight choreography and more. Then there’s some previously released extras such as a ”Making Of” featurette, an interview with Sheldon Lettich, another interview with Harrison Page, some promotional TV Clips, photo gallery, the original theatrical trailer and a fun collectible mini poster round out the extras.
If you’re a Van Damme fan or just love classic action films, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Lionheart. It’s a fun movie that still holds up well thanks to a good cast and having the right mix of fighting and drama. Add in some very impressive special features both new and old, and you’ve got an awesome fighter you’ll want to have in your movie collection corner.