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Film / Lionheart

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R-rated Street Fighting

Lionheart, also known as Wrong Bet, A.W.O.L. and Full Contact, is a martial arts action film from 1990.

Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as Lyon Gaulier, the movie begins in Los Angeles with a drug deal gone wrong, as Lyon's brother Francois tries to hustle some street thugs, who set him on fire. His wife Hélène writes about this to Lyon, and Lyon promptly deserts from his position in The Foreign Legion and escapes to the USA, managing to get into New York City. Penniless, he participates in illegal streetfights in order to raise money so he get into LA and to his hospitalized brother. While doing this he meets Joshua, who promptly appoints himself Lyon's manager/trainer and Cynthia, a rich and influential player in the streetfights who quickly develops a financial interest in Lyon's fighting prowess.

When Lyon finally reaches LA, he is unfortunately too late as Francois is dead. Initially unwilling to continue fighting after reaching LA, he is soon persuaded by Cynthia to continue getting into increasingly dangerous bouts so that he can help support Francois' widow and young daughter. Unfortunately someone like Cynthia doesn't help people for no reason, and the investigators sent by the Legion to bring him back are relentlessly closing in on Lyon.

As with the other Jean-Claude's films in the early 90's, it recycles the plot from his older film, this time from Bloodsport.

This movie contains the examples of:

  • Artistic License Economics: Cynthia's position at the end isn't quite as bad as it could be because she deliberately manipulated the odds to favor Lyons, so Atilla was the underdog despite being a super strong killer. Then again, she's still implied to have bet an unreasonable chunk of change on him.
  • Big Bad: Cynthia is a underground fighting promoter who has made a fortune arranging Blood Sport entertainment for the rich and powerful. This would merely make her no different from our protagonists, who are also involved in blood sports, if not for the fact she takes advantage of Lyons breaking a rib so she can send him to his possible death against Atilla. Even if Lyons survives, she also intends to hand him over to the French Foreign Legion.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Lyon ends his fight with Sonny by giving him a swift punch into his balls. It's implied he may have castrated him.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Lyon's broken rib in the fight against Attila.
  • Dramatic Shattering: There's a lot of this going around to make the fights as brutal as possible.
  • Fight Clubbing: This is a world of absolutely brutal martial arts where people are permanently crippled if not killed.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Lyon sustains an injury to his side during a fight. In the final tournament, his opponent uses this to his advantage.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Attila points at Lyon menacingly before getting the crap beaten out of him.
  • Gratuitous French: Lyons engages in some of this, just in case you forget he's in the French Foreign Legion.
  • Groin Attack: A particularly infamous and painful example where it looks like his genitals have been destroyed by Lyon's attack.
  • Heroic Willpower: Lyons comes back from absolutely nightmarish beatings.
  • Hope Spot: Attila likes to give these to his opponents.
  • Hot-Blooded Sideburns: Attila has a pair of these and is a Blood Knight Monster Heel.
  • Hunting the Rogue: A soldier in the French Foreign Legion learns that his brother was attacked by drug thugs, and is in critical condition. When Lyon's request for a pass is declined, he deserts to visit his brother. Two legionnaire enforcers are sent to retrieve him by any means necessary. The two men hound Lyon "Lionheart" Gaultier through the seedy world of underground Fight Clubbing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Joshua loses all of the money he placed on Atilla as an "insurance policy." Which is a fair punishment for the fact he didn't warn him about Cynthia until the end.
    • Cynthia is implied to have bankrupted herself by betting everything on Atilla.
    • Sonny finishes his fight with his first opponent by delivering a cruel Groin Attack. Moments later, Lyon opens his fight with Sonny with a savage Groin Attack that inmediatly settles the match.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: Lyons is serving in one of these before his desertion after he can't get leave to go visit his dying brother.
  • Man in a Kilt: Discussed when Lyon and Joshua mock a Scottish fighter for his "skirt" and wonder if he's a true Scotsman.
  • Man on Fire: Francois tries to hustle street thugs with sugar as cocaine. This leads him getting a gasoline bath, followed by a lit matchstick.
  • Monster Heel: Atilla is a martial arts movie example of this as he's portrayed as a barely human super strong powerhouse who cripples or kills his opponents in the ring. Notably, this is played down in-universe as Cynthia wants to make him seem like the underdog in the ring so people will bet heavily on Lyons when she expects Atilla to murder him in the ring.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lyon "Lionheart" Gaultier.
  • N-Word Privileges: Amidst all the F-bombs there is only one N-word. Said by an evil black gang leader.
  • Oh, Crap!: Cynthia's face as Lyon kicks Attila right in the pointer finger says it all.
  • Rich Bitch: Cynthia is the organizer and maintainer of the street fighting competitions Lyons participates in. She's also a dirty-dirty cheat who arranges deliberately one-sided fights where people get crippled or killed.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Attila is shown holding a white cat when he arrives in LA.
  • Salt and Pepper: Lyon and Joshua. Their friendship doesn't survive the events of the movie.
  • Shirtless Scene: It wouldn't be a Jean Claude Van Damme movie if not for one of these.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: The movie looks like it's going to have one of these with Lyon dragged off by the French Foreign Legion for court martial and disgrace but the officers are so disgusted by Cynthia's behavior as well as moved by Lyon's actions (fighting for his family), they let him go.
  • Those Two Guys: The two Foreign Legionaires who are sent to get Lyon back.
  • Translation Convention: Everyone in the French Foreign Legion speaks English.
  • Violent Glaswegian: One of the Lyon's opponents is a kilt-wearing Scotsman who prefers Good Old Fisticuffs.