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MVD

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sheldon Lettich
Cast:
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Deborah Rennard, Harrison Page
Writing Credits:
Sheldon Lettich, Jean-Claude Van Damme

Synopsis:
A former soldier begins participating in underground street fights in order to make money for his brother's family.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English PCM Stereo (Theatrical)
English Dolby 5.1 (Extended)
English Dolby 2.0 (Extended)
Subtitles:
English (Theatrical)
French (Theatrical)
Spanish (Theatrical)
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 105 min. (Theatrical)
110 min. (Extended)
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 6/19/2018

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Extended Cuts
• Audio Commentary with Director Co-Writer/Director Sheldon Lettich and Actor Harrison Page
• Interview with Co-Writer/Director Sheldon Lettich
• Interview with Actor Harrison Page
• “The Story of Lionheart” Featurette
• “Inside Lionheart” Featurette
• “Behind the Fights” Featurette
• “Making Of” Featurette
• “Behind the Scenes of the Audio Commentary” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers
• Promotional TV Clips
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


RELATED REVIEWS


Lionheart [Blu-Ray] (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 12, 2018)

When he emerged as a star in the late 1980s, Jean-Claude Van Damme acted as a contrast to then-dominant action performers like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. While those two offered super-muscular personae, Van Damme seemed less “roided-out”, and he added a martial arts component that his weapon-oriented peers couldn’t match.

Of course, Van Damme’s success never compared with those others, but he made a decent niche for himself, and 1990’s Lionheart acts as a representation of the actor’s work in his prime years. When his brother gets severely burned after a drug deal gone bad, French Legionnaire Leon Gaultier (Van Damme) deserts and heads toward the US.

When Leon arrives in the States, he encounters a number of obstacles, money among them. To raise funds, he gets involved in underground street fighting, an enterprise that leads him in unexpected paths as he tries to reach his family.

Back in Van Damme’s heyday, I saw some of his movies, but I never embraced his oeuvre. A look at Lionheart reminds me why I avoided his films, as it presents a thoroughly awful affair.

As an actor, Van Damme showed little talent. While he looked the part of the action star, he couldn’t deliver lines or emotion in an even vaguely natural, believable way.

Lionheart doesn’t flop just due to the flaws of Van Damme the actor, though – it also suffers due to Van Damme’s lack of skill in other realms. Van Damme gets credit for the movie’s story and he also co-wrote the screenplay.

The movie brings us a thoroughly terrible script that shows no comprehension of logic or narrative flow. Events tend to just happpen and the film lurches from one scene to another without real movement or coherence.

Characters tend toward one-dimensional stereotypes. From the wealthy seductress who bankrolls Leon to his street—wise manager Joshua, not a single believable personality emerges.

Virtually every technical aspect of the movie falters as well. Editing cuts almost at random, and shots frame the elements in awkward ways.

This impacts the movie’s sole claim to fame: its action. Whatever his flaws as an actor, Van Damme possessed skill as a martial artist, so these scenes should succeed, right?

Nope. Due to the lack of technical competence, even the potentially brutal battles feel flat and dull.

Watch Lionheart if you want to see Ashley Johnson of TV’s Blindspot as a very young girl. Otherwise, avoid this atrocious piece of cheese.


The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio D/ Bonus B

Lionheart appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with an inconsistent transfer.

Sharpness became one of the up and down elements, as delineation seemed erratic. Much of the movie offered fairly good accuracy and clarity, but more than a few soft spots materialized.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. The image could be unusually grainy at times, and I saw sporadic instances of small specks. Gate weave could be more problematic than usual at times as well, so the image wobbled a bit.

Colors varied, and at times, they could be fairly peppy and full. However, they could lean murky and flat on occasion as well.

Blacks seemed reasonably dark and dense, while shadows provided acceptable clarity. The image did enough well for a “C+” but it lacked consistency.

At least the image topped the movie’s awful PCM stereo soundtrack. 1990 wasn’t that long ago, and the track shouldn’t sound as terrible as it did.

Though billed as stereo, the track never felt like anything more than broad monaural. Whatever audio spread to the sides lacked any real breadth or localization, so this mix seemed stuck close to the center. Not even music boasted any kind of actual stereo presence.

I wouldn’t mind the absence of a stronger soundscape if the quality didn’t appear so terrible. Speech remained intelligible, but the lines tended to be somewhat edgy and lacked a smooth feel.

Still, dialogue fared better than effects, which seemed consistently awful. Burdened by both poor foley and a bad mix, these elements stood out as awkward, unnatural and metallic.

Distortion impacted much of the mix, and the track suffered from sonic warping that made it sound like backwash from a jet overcame the audio. Effects seemed shockingly poor given the movie’s vintage.

Music didn’t show distortion but the score and songs felt awfully thin and flat. These components didn’t boast any form of dynamics or warmth. This ended up as a pretty awful soundtrack,

This Blu-ray includes both the film’s theatrical cut (1:44:59) as well as an Extended Version (1:50:17). The latter actually provides the movie’s German release called Leon - heck, during the commentary, we even hear dubbed German dialogue in the background.

I watched the theatrical edition for this review so I can’t discuss the differences between the two, but I can state that the extended film offered a weaker visual presentation, as a few anomalies impacted it. In the few minutes I watched, I saw degraded visual quality – presumably for added sequences.

To my surprise, the Extended version got a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, one that actually sounded moderately good, though it came with some lip-synch issues. Still, at least it provided superior audio compared to the awful stereo track for the theatrical version.

Alongside the Extended cut, we got an audio commentary from co-writer/director Sheldon Lettich and actor Harrison Page. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, stunts and action, sets and locations, and connected elements.

Don’t expect a lot from this mediocre commentary. Lettich dominates and covers the basics in an acceptable manner, but he doesn’t deliver many insights, and Page fails to tell us much. While not a terrible chat, it fails to tell us much.

A mix of video pieces follow, and these begin with The Story of Lionheart, a 47-minute, 28-second program with notes from Lettich, Page, actor/co-writer Jean-Claude Van Damme, producer Eric Karson, and actors Deborah Rennard and Brian Thompson.

The documentary looks at the project’s origins and development, screenplay, story and characters, the film’s various titles in different regions, cast and performances, sets and locations, and the movie’s release/reception.

Overall, “Story” comes with a decent array of information, but it seems less detailed than I’d expect for such a long piece. It devotes way too much time to plaudits related to the movie’s success and it lacks a ton of insights. It creates a decent but disappointing program.

Next comes Inside Lionheart. It goes for 25 minutes, 42 seconds and features Lettich, Rennard, Thompson, Page, Van Damme, and Karson.

“Inside” looks at Lettich’s impact on the production as well as aspects of various actors and their performances. This tends toward a lot of happy talk and not much else.

With Behind the Fights, we get a 10-minute, 18-second reel that features Rennard, Van Damme, Page, Lettich, Karson and Thompson. As implied, the show examines action choreography. Like its predecessors, it mixes facts with praise, though it leans more toward the former than the others.

From 1990, a Making Of featurette lasts eight minutes, 52 seconds and includes Van Damme, Lettich, Page, Rennard, fight choreographer Frank Dux and actor Lisa Pelikan. Most of this offers promotional fluff, though we get a few decent shots from the set.

More from the director comes via a 25-minute, 51-second Interview with Sheldon Lettich. He chats about aspects of his career and his experiences on Lionheart. Some of this repeats from earlier discussions but Lettich adds enough new material to make the piece worth a look.

In the same vein, an Interview with Harrison Page fills 13 minutes, four seconds and provides the actor’s thoughts about his work on the film and his career. This turns into another fairly useful chat.

An odd addition, Behind the Scenes of the Audio Commentary takes up five minutes, 39 seconds. It shows Lettich and Page as they watch a little of the movie and chat. It’s essentially a waste of time.

Next comes a Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery. Presented as a running four-minute, 45-second reel, we find 54 images that mix shots from the set with promo elements. It’s a decent compilation, though the quality isn’t great.

We locate five promotional TV clips. Presumably the latter were used during talk shows and the like. They lack much merit on their own.

We also find one trailer for Lionheart as well as promos for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Black Eagle, Black Eagle and The Return of Swamp Thing.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Lionheart. It includes all of the extras except for the Extended Cut and the commentary.

Even by the low standards of early 90s action films, Lionheart stinks. Amateurish, stupid and boring, the movie does nothing right. The Blu-ray offers mediocre visuals along with terrible audio and a generally positive package of bonus materials. Not even nostalgia can convince me to find anything enjoyable about this disaster.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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