Lionheart: MVD Rewind Collection (1990)

4 Beers

“What I did tonight, I did for my family.” 

Print critics, back in the day, might have kicked its ass but, damn, people STILL love the characters in the highly-quotable Lionheart.  It is, as far as Jean-Claude Van Damme is concerned, a very important film as it proved that he could be HUMAN and still kick ass.  This is a simple flick, sure, but it does a lot of things right in its running time to deliver yet another immortal tale of underdogs in tight jeans with hearts that roar.  Welcome to the jungle indeed!

The struggle is real. Even the rich, while watching secret fights in parking garages, get sprinkles of blood droplets on their faces in this beefed-up movie. Lionheart, probably the best Van Damme action flick as it is him at his most … human, FINALLY gets the de-luxe treatment on 1080p from the MVD Rewind Collection, with active participation from Jean-Claude Van Damme (who wrote the film) himself.

“If the dogs don’t kill him, the desert will,” is the sentence shouted into the air as one French Foreign Legion soldier takes off into the deserts of Africa. Well, neither does as this AWOL soldier is a certified force of nature. Lyon Gaultier (Van Damme) is headed for America to help his sister-in-law out with bills and support for her child once he receives news of his brother’s life-threatening injuries from a bunch of rival street thugs. He has no plan. He just swings his fists and his feet, plowing his fists into one pair of balls after another.

This bare-knuckled brawler works. It is still a good time and, thanks to some great adlibbing, a very funny film. Even when it is kicking your ass. Just ask Van Damme’s ridiculously clothed brothers in the ring. Antennas are ripped from cars, incredible kicks to the head and groin are completed, and no one is spared from the brutality of beating the living shit out of another person.

From New York to Los Angeles, Lyon, dubbed “Lionheart” by those who witness his style of street fighting, makes his way to her city just in time to be the responsible family member he never was before. Maybe he feels responsible for helping lead his brother down the path of drugs and debt. Who knows? All we ever know for sure is that he can fight and, through those deadly fights, earn the money needed to help her and her daughter make it out of the ghetto.

Except Lyon is not a born killer. He has a conscious. And he wants to help what’s left of his family…and that makes him a moving target, even as he is trying to spoil his niece.  The dude can't catch a break.  Hell, even the Legionnaires what his ass.

Co-starring a hilarious Harrison Page (Bad Ass) as Lyon's self-appointed manager, Brian Thompson (The Terminator), Ashley Johnson (The Help), Lionheart has humanizes the previously robotic hero thanks to its engaged cast. The film, with an epic fight at the end with Abdel Qissi, also has a lot of violence. It is a movie that continues to work on a number of levels. Director Sheldon Lettich (Bloodsport, Rambo III, Double Impact) keeps things engaged thanks to an economical handling of the film, getting our hero quickly established in New York and then, again, in Los Angeles. He also allows Van-Damme to kick a lot of ass in well-choreographed scenes.

For early 1990s schlock, Lionheart delivers the “macho” cheese. But can Lyon earn the respect of his sister-in-law and her daughter? After all, as he likes to remind us, he’s doing this all for her.

With this release from MVD Rewind Collection, buyers get both versions of the movie and a bevy of supplemental materials that will excite any fan of this street brawling B-movie. Lionheart, both in tone and in spirit, has NEVER looked as good as it does here. Do not sleep on the decision on whether or not to own this title. The choice is easy.

Just DO it.

Blu-ray Specifications:

The newly transferred High Definition Blu-ray (and Standard Definition DVD) presentation of Lionheart is on point. While it takes place mainly on the streets of Los Angeles, this 1080p transfer captures crisp details in clothing and in locations that are textured and fine. Loaded with juicy details, this is an atmospheric release that doesn’t shy away from the sunlight. It has dark layers, yes, and those shadows are well-defined and crisp but the new transfer does not disappoint. The brand new 1.85:1 HD master is detailed and looks better than ever. Some shots, due to the era of the day, are fuzzier than others but the image is reasonably well defined with crisp contrasts and solid textures. Colors are solid, with reds being a standout. Blacks are, too. Surprisingly, there's enough fine detail on display to make this seem revelatory. The era-ready color palette looks terrific, too. The disc comes with the original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks.

Commentary:

The audio commentary by Sheldon Lettich and Harrison Page is full of great details about the shoot, the story, and the locations. It is not to be missed if you are a fan of the movie.

Special Features:

The MVD Rewind Collections provides a loaded release for Lionheart’s NEW handling. Fans get a new documentary and new featurettes with new interviews from the cast and the crew, including Jean-Claude Van Damme. A collectible mini movie poster is also included.

The Story of Lionheart

Inside Lionheart with the Filmmakers and Cast

Lionheart': Behind the Fights

Making Of Lionheart

Interview with Sheldon Lettich

Interview with Harrison Page

Behind the Scenes of the Audio Commentary

Original Theatrical Trailer

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