Face it, a lot of us grew up in the 80s and 90s or were old enough to start watching some of the movies that were, back then, considered to be great action flicks. Jean Claude Van Damme wasn’t exactly the king of the action flicks back in the day, but he was one of the bigger names that people paid attention to, and it’s fair to state that a lot of his movies were memorable for a good reason. Lionheart is a pretty simple movie, as it involves JCVD as Lyon, a member of the French Foreign Legion who receives a message that his brother has been burned alive after a drug deal went bad. In his attempt to get to America to see his brother’s wife and daughter, Lyon has to go on the run from the Legion to make his way to New York. It’s there that he meets Joshua, a former fighter who has turned to setting up street fights that are exceedingly brutal but also lucrative to the winner. When he sees Lyon’s skill and raw power he introduces the fighter to Cynthia, a wealthy individual that is known for setting up underground street fights.
His second fight is with an individual that was obviously going to lose since his taunts didn’t bother Lyon in the slightest, and a quick punch to the groin lays the fighter out as Lyon impresses Cynthia and many others in attendance. She agrees to get him to LA and also sets him up as a renowned fighter on the underground circuit. This is where the movie was seen to get kind of impressive back in the day, even if it comes off as a bit cheesy now since the fights that Lyon is shown to engage in involving a brutish giant of a man in a racquetball court, a Scotsman that likes to fight dirty (or not, this is a street fight), and a martial artist whom Lyon fights in a partially-filled pool. Hey, it was the start of the 90s, and action flicks were doing whatever it took to look flashy and hip.
As his reputation grows in the movie, Lyon continues to try to help his sister-in-law, who rejected him upon his arrival in LA, as she blamed him for his brother’s foray into the seedy world of drug dealing. But as Lyon keeps winning, he sends his money to support his brother’s widow and little girl, using Joshua as a go-between and giving her the story that her husband had set up a life insurance policy. Looking at such a thing now it’s fair to say that such a thing would have been checked, meaning that JCVD’s movies weren’t really that strong on sense and logic. But it was the 90s, and a lot of people were just waiting for the action scenes at that time. There was enough story to get by and enjoy, to be honest, but the build-up to the fight with Attila, who was an undefeated fighter on the underground circuit, and a beast of a man, was what a lot of people were waiting to see.
The trick with Attila was that he was a monstrous fighter who gave his opponents the chance to think that they could beat him, as he could take a great deal of punishment before he shut his opponents down and broke them in ways that would never heal properly. It wasn’t much of a surprise that Cynthia bet heavily against Lyon, but realizing that Joshua did as well spurred Lyon on after he’d taken a hellish beating that should have put him down for a day or two at least. At that time, the two Legionnaires that had been sent to retrieve Lyon had caught up to him, but at Cynthia’s insistence had agreed to wait until the fight was over to take Lyon into custody. To make a long story short, Lyon ended up beating Attila, which ruined Cynthia and was taken into custody after the fight. In a mild twist, the Legionnaires allowed Lyon to go back to his family, wishing him luck as they did. All in all, it was a touching movie with enough action to make it interesting.
But a remake of this movie would be kind of fun to see since not much would have to change to keep the same feel of the story. Perhaps the French Foreign Legion might need to be changed to something else, or not. It would be up to who wanted to write, direct, and produce the movie, but it does feel as though leaving it alone apart from updating the script and casting new characters would be the wisest move. Lionheart wasn’t a bad movie, but in this day and age, a fresh look and a few very important updates would be enough to get started on a remake that might actually be kind of successful.
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