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Sterling/1998/99m/PS !.33

       The screener supplied by Sterling is a Pan & Scan Disc. The press release for this title is a special editon 2.35 aspect ratio. It includes commentary and other features, as well as DVD ROM only features.

     After a promising start with a well-plotted prelude that takes place in Marseilles, Legionnaire fails to navigate the sands of the Moroccan desert effectively.

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Van Damme and friends in the Legion ©Sterling

     Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Alain Lefevre, a prizefighter that crosses the local mob by failing to take a dive after it was set up. After a chase through the Marseilles streets, Alain spots a convenient Foreign Legion recruiting station. Cut to Morocco: Alain is a recruit in the French Foreign Legion. Legionnaire spends some good moments introducing Alain’s fellow recruits. The training is executed in quick strokes like a fighter throwing a series of jabs. There’s a good barracks brawl that has Alain taking on the German bully. It’s actually restrained in terms of Van Damme fights. An obbligato whore house scene is included as well as some cliché speeches by the drillmaster.
     Legionnaire loses its force when it begins a tedious march to a desert fort to confront the natives. One of Alain’s buddies can’t make it through the march and it’s up to Alain save him. Once in the fort, two Marseilles hoods miraculously show up to take care of Alain for dumping the fight and causing the death of the mob bosses brother. There’s treachery afoot. Between the marauding Arabs and the hoods can Alain survive?
     Van Damme is pretty tight-lipped as Alain Lefevre, but that is not surprising. He’s quite effective in the role actually. His performance in the Marseilles segment is particularly well done. And this is one of Van Damme best dressed outings. Supporting players are variably convincing.
     Legionnaire was shot 2.35 and some of the PS compositions look compromised. There are several scenes with actors sliced in half at he periphery of the screen. Still, the transfer looks very nice. The image is consistently sharp. Desert grain is handled with care. The artistically lighted desert sequences look especially good on this DVD. The two-channel Dolby Digital surround adds reasonable ambiance to the doings. The glimpse of the Moroccan marketplace comes to life both visually and sonically.