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Lionheart (1990)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, Sport  |  11 January 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 22,909 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 24 critic

Lyon Gaultier is a deserter in the Foreign Legion arriving in the USA entirely hard up. He finds his brother between life and death and his sister-in-law without the money needed to heal ... See full summary »



(earlier screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Deborah Rennard ...
Nicole Gaultier
Voyo Goric ...
Sgt. Hartog
Michel Qissi ...
Francois (as Jason Adams)
William T. Amos ...
Drug Dealer
Roz Bosley ...
Dennis Rucker ...
Irish Legionnaire (as Dennis Wayne Rucker)
African Legionnaire


Lyon Gaultier is a deserter in the Foreign Legion arriving in the USA entirely hard up. He finds his brother between life and death and his sister-in-law without the money needed to heal her husband and to maintain her child. To earn the money needed, Gaultier decides to take part in some very dangerous clandestine fights. Written by Tognacci Sebastiano <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Honour or revenge, he has no choice... See more »


Action | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphically violent fight scenes and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A.W.O.L.  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$24,078,196 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filmed after Death Warrant (1990) despite being being released prior. See more »


When Lyon and Joshua are walking in New York City there is seen a sign for Carl's Jr., a western burger chain with no locations on the east coast. See more »


Joshua: The whole bet is on Atilla!
Lyon: Wrong Bet!
See more »


References Mad Max (1979) See more »


Words and Music by Gil Karson & Sal Rodriguez
Performed by Sal Rodriguez & Bertha E. Oropeza (as Bertha Oropeza)
Published by QLT & Karson West
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"Lionheart" - Welcome to the Lion's Den
15 July 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the Jean-Claude Van Damme martial arts movie "Lionheart," audiences get to see a side of the Muscles from Brussels not seen in previous action films like "Bloodsport" (1988) and "Kickboxer" (1989): Van Damme acting and fighting like there's no tomorrow. I must be crazy for giving "Lionheart" such a high rating based on "acting" from Van Damme but if one can get past the phony Hollywood theatrics and the like, you can see what is very easily the best of Van Damme's early work simply because he isn't trying too hard... yet.

For the most part in "Lionheart," the flashy, impossible athleticism of the Belgian-born martial arts sensation's earlier works has been shunned in favor of straight-up no-holds-barred brawling, which is essentially what this picture is about. After his drug-dealing brother is set on fire in Los Angeles, Lyon Gaultier (Van Damme) deserts his post in North Africa with the French Foreign Legion and high-tails it to the United States to reconnect with his brother's wife and five-year-old daughter, with two agents in hot pursuit with orders to bring him back at any cost. Once here, he happens upon a bare-knuckle brawl underneath a bridge and immediately stuns the natives when he dispatches his first opponent with surprisingly little difficulty.

At this same match, he also meets Joshua (Harrison Page), a street-wise hustler who becomes Lyon's self-appointed manager and gives Lyon the nickname "Lionheart." Soon enough, Lyon's brawl becomes the talk of the tight little circle interested in such senseless "human cock-fighting," and shamelessly amoral rich-woman fight promoter Cynthia (Deborah Rennard) signs on Lyon as her champion for several no-holds-barred street fights. The arenas themselves are as ridiculous as they could possibly get - an underground parking lot, a racquetball court, a half-filled swimming pool, and a tennis court - but they get the job done in serving shameless blood-sport for the rich who are thirsty for guys beating the living daylights out of each other. At the center of it, of course, is determined Lyon, who puts aside his own reservations about fighting for the rich and focuses squarely on putting money in his family's pockets.

For all its scenes of combat and many, many missteps, "Lionheart" is very easily the best of Van Damme's early martial arts movies simply because it'll give fans of the genre what they want: maximum Van Damage and, boy, does he damage some of his sparring partners and take some damage of his own. The fight choreography (by Frank Dux, the real-life character Van Damme played in his earlier "Bloodsport") is brutal and realistic, with little flash & glitter. It's intense stuff that really captures the beauty and brutality of no-hards-barred combat.

The script, which mostly consists of four-letter words, is obviously the weakest point here. But how can you possibly expect a script authored by Van Damme himself and director Sheldon Lettich to be Academy Award-winning material? What people want to see here is fighting, although there are some heartfelt scenes between family that could probably warm the hearts of those who care to see such drama.

More gladiator combat spectacle than dramatic actioner, "Lionheart" takes us to the Lion's Den and never looks back.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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