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Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist – July 25, 2014

Brandon's Blu-ray Wishlist THUMBWe continue our ‘Countdown To Expendables 3‘ edition of the Blu-ray Wishlist with a film from the library of Expendables II star and scene stealer Jean-Claude Van Damme.  When I was younger I was a pretty big Van Damme fan.  He seemed to be the hipster choice of action star when it came to them.  Van Damme had not only a fantastic marquee action name, but he also had a great run from the late 80s through the mid 90s (My personal favorite of his adventures being Timecop and Hard Target, but who doesn’t love the sheer ridiculous and craziness of Sudden Death).  However, he was definitely with Seagal in that second tier below Arnold/Sly/Bruce.  The forte that gave Van Damme a unique edge and introduction was that he was trained in martial arts and actually had movies that focused on the action being professional matches.  Today we’re definitely taking a look at one of those.

Lionheart Wishlist

Lionheart (1990)

Van Damme has a sort of unofficial trilogy of these fight movies.  His breakout role in Bloodsport being the first and the year before this one he starred in one of his most popular films, Kickboxer (which went on to become a franchise in the 90s without him).  Lionheart is the 3rd and final (so far) film with this one-on-one organized fight type movie coming out 2 years after Kickboxer.  The film was a hit and showed progression on Van Damme’s box office take.  It was his first $20 million plus film.  Later that same year Death Warrant would come out and escalate him into the $30 million plus territory.

Lionheart 4

Unlike Kickboxer and Bloodsport, Lionheart deals with underground illegal fighting and gambling.  Van Damme plays a man in the Foreign Legion named Lyon (How is this movie not called “Lyonheart””!?!?!) who escapes when he finds his brother has been hospitalized and badly burned by a street gang.  He stows away to get to the states to find his brother has passed and his sister and law wants him to have nothing to do with her or his niece.  But when Lyon learns they are in financial trouble he begins taking in these underground fights and sending his shares on the victories to her in the form of “insurance checks” for her husband’s death.

Lionheart 2

In this unofficial trilogy, I like that they take Van Damme’s schtick and move it into a different environment and throw out all the rules.  It also feels like a bigger movie and feels more open as each fight takes place in a completely different environment.  These places also offer up the option to have different parts of them used as a cool effect in a fight.  For instance, one of them takes place in a drained pool, but there’s still some gross water in it and Van Damme roundhouse kicks this dude into it several times.  Its much more visually stunning and gives a feeling of unpredctability with the fights as opposed to being in a dojo or small arena.  They’re also much bloodier affairs as well.

MSDLION EC007

Lionheart is a solid film and one of Van Damme’s better affairs.  You get to see plenty of his moves that he would later incorporate into his bigger and more straightforward action films that set him apart and gave him his own identity amongst the pack of muscled heroes.  Plus, for some reason or other, this guy has always sort of had a charm to his screen presence in this “goofy Frenchman” sort of way.  He may be a staple of my youth, and I don’t know how he’s viewed or even if he’s know by younger audiences, but when you go back to his older films you can just tell the guy had a strong presence and star power as a man of action.

Jean Claude Van Damme

Where do Lionheart’s chances on Blu-ray lie?  Honestly, this is a tough one.  The film was most recently released on DVD in 2013.  It appears the current US video distribution rights belong to a group called Imperial Entertainment Corporation (Universal put the film out on VHS back in the day, but there’s no telling if its there’s or they still have the rights.  I wasn’t able to find out).  They don’t even have their own website and I can’t find any evidence ever releasing anything on Blu-ray.  They have the film standalone and in a 4 pack with Hard Target and Sudden Death (as well as The Quest).  Those two titles have both been put out in region free discs in the UK by a company called Ais.  So, my plea is for them to put out another Van Damme classic on a region free Blu-ray (I LOVE LOVE LOVE the thicker cases the UK uses btw) akin to Hard Target and Sudden Death.  I think this would work out perfectly.  It would be awesome to see Van Damme kick ass in Lionheart in HD on Blu-ray!

Enjoy this most stereotypical awesome action movie trailer. I swear Van Damme had the same guy narrate all his trailers.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

3 Responses to “Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist – July 25, 2014”


  1. Brian White

    OK! Now you’re talking! this one hit home with me and I fully support this choice, B! Death Warrant and Double Impact too!

  2. Brandon Peters

    Good news for you Brian! Double Impact and Death Warrant on Blu-ray. You can get them individually or in a 3 pack with the super underrated Cyborg

  3. Brian White

    Good news indeed! Loved both of those. Double Impact had that Cory Everson bodybuilder too!