Legionnaire (film)

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DVD Cover
Directed byPeter MacDonald
Produced byChristian Halsey Solomon
Kamel Krifa
Sheldon Lettich
Peter MacDonald
Roberto Malerba
Richard G. Murphy
Edward R. Pressman
Jean-Claude van Damme
Written bySheldon Lettich
Rebecca Morrison
Jean-Claude van Damme
StarringJean-Claude van Damme
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Daniel Caltagirone
Nicholas Farrell
Steven Berkoff
Narrated byJean-Claude van Damme
Music byJohn Altman
CinematographyDouglas Milsome
Edited byMike Murphy
Christopher Tellefsen
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • December 3, 1998 (1998-12-03)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States

Legionnaire is a 1998 American drama war film directed by Peter MacDonald and starring Jean-Claude van Damme as a 1920s boxer who wins a fight after having been hired by gangsters to lose it, then flees to join the French Foreign Legion. The cast includes Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Daniel Caltagirone, Nicholas Farrell and Steven Berkoff. The film was filmed in Tangier and Ouarzazate, Morocco.

Plot summary[edit]

Alain Lefèvre (Jean-Claude van Damme) is a French boxer in 1920s Marseille, France. His brother has asked for him to throw a fight so both can live with the money. Lucien Galgani (Jim Carter), the mobster who forced him to do so, requests he do it in the second round. Galgani's girlfriend Katrina (Ana Sofrenović) is Alain's ex-fiancée whom he left standing at the altar. But Katrina forgives Alain, and the two hatch a plan to run off to America together.

Alain does not take a dive in the fight, and instead defeats his opponent. Just as the escape plan is about to succeed, Alain's brother is killed, and Katrina is captured by Galgani's men. But Alain has shot and killed Galgani's brother. Desperately needing a new escape plan, Alain signs up for the French Foreign Legion, and is shipped to North Africa to help defend Morocco against a native Berber rebellion of Rif warriors, led by Abd el-Krim.

Along the way, Alain meets some new friends, including Luther, an African American who has fled injustice in the States and felt that by returning to Africa he would be treated well, Mackintosh, a former British Army Major who was dishonorably discharged due to a gambling problem, and Guido, a naive Italian boy who wishes to impress his fiancée back home by returning as a hero. But things will not be easy. The only real way to escape from the Legion is to survive the term of service, and the rebels have them outnumbered.

After marching for days, the current troop arrives at a small pond. Unfortunately before getting their full share of water, they are ambushed and shot down by the Berbers. Among the dead is Guido. After leaving, the survivors, including Alain, go to the Legion's fort.

Meanwhile Galgani has sent his hired thugs into the Legion as well, to find Alain and get revenge for the death of Galgani's brother. After a few days, they find him in the fort. After the commander sends Alain along with Mackintosh and the others to guard the fort, Mackintosh reveals his true intentions of being sent to kill Alain as part of a deal to reimburse his father, who was left penniless due to gambling debts. Before he can do so, however, they're chased down by the natives who advance towards the fort.

The colonel sends Luther in a dangerous mission to infiltrate the natives' camp. Alain, knowing it will be suicide, demands to go along but is ordered not to. Luther gave him his harmonica as a symbol of friendship.

As Alain is guarding the fort outside, he sees Luther without his attire coming. Alain then sees the rest of the group arrive. As they begin attacking, Alain decides to kill Luther in order to give him a relatively painless and quick death. Very swiftly, the rest of the group take down the Legionnaires.

As a former thug is about to kill Alain, he gets shot down by Mackintosh, who remorsefully reveals that Katrina has managed to leave and escape from Galgani and go to America as she always wanted. Alain, as a token of appreciation, gives him a single bullet so that Mackintosh can commit suicide to save himself from despair.

In the end, only Alain stands up alive after the battle and Abd el-Krim seeing Alain's courage and determination allows him to live and tells him to inform his superiors what's waiting for them if they continue the colonization. Now the only survivor of the ordeal, Alain is left alone in the desert as he remembers Katrina and his former friends. There is the alternate/deleted ending when Alain rescues Katrina and is to originally kill Galgani but doesn't as the director and producer walking on set felt it was too violent. There is in a script to the alternate ending at the New Year's Eve party when Alain aims his pistol at Galgani and the place goes quiet but walks out with Katrina and Alain refrains from killing Lucien Galgani.


Actor Character
Jean-Claude van Damme Alain Lefèvre (nom de guerre Alain Duchamp)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Luther
Steven Berkoff Sgt. Steinkampf
Nicholas Farrell Major Mackintosh
Jim Carter Lucien Galgani
Ana Sofrenović Katrina
Daniel Caltagirone Guido Rosetti
Joseph Long Maxim
Mario Kalli René Galgani
Joe Montana Julot
Kim Romer Capt. Rousselot
Anders Peter Bro Lt. Charlier
Paul Kynman Rolf Bruner
Vincent Pickering Viktor
Takis Triggelis Cpl. Metz
Tom Delmar Cpl. Legros
Kamel Krifa Abd-el Krim

Production notes[edit]

Van Damme originally pitched the story of joining the foreign legion to escape from the mob as a more humorous vehicle starring himself and a comedian such as John Candy.[1]

The often-recorded 1936 song "Mon légionnaire" is sung over the closing credits by Ute Lemper.

Deemed unreleasable for movie theaters in the United States, Legionnaire was released to cable TV channels and home video despite a $35 million production budget.[2]


The film received mixed reviews.[3][4]


  1. ^ "Van Damme very determined". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  2. ^ Liebenson, Donald (1999-02-11). "A direct hit? New Van Damme film bypasses theaters, takes battle straight to video". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
  3. ^ Nichols, Peter M. (1999-01-08). "Movie review - Home video; Two big names on small screen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  4. ^ "Legionnaire". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-03-22.

External links[edit]