Lionheart, 1990

Taglines:
 - Honour or revenge, he has no choice...
 - When the streets are a jungle there can only be one king.
 - Too tough to die.

Jean-Claude Van Damme is Lyon Gaultier. His brother, who is married to an American woman, is burned alive by the members of a drug squad in a drug deal gone wrong and suffers third-degree burns, and dies shortly thereafter.  On that moment, Lyon is in North Africa serving the last six months of a hitch in the French Foreign Legion when he gets word of the incident, and he unsuccessfully petitions his cold-blooded superiors for leave to tend to family matters.
 
Desperate, Lyon knocks several legionnaires out and stows away on a steamer headed for America. Once Lyon gets near New York harbor, Lyon jumps on a ship and tries to come up with a way to get enough money to head for California.  Along the way, he meets Joshua (played by Harrison Page),, a man who runs fights for money, and also learns that his brother's murderers have been arrested and convicted.  Meanwhile, two Legionnaires are ordered to find Lyon.Tagging along with Joshua, Lyon meets Cynthia, who also specializes in street-fighting. Figuring that this would be the best way to earn the money his family needs, Lyon fights in no holds barred bare-knuckle fights to finance the trip.
 
Once they reach to L.A., he tracks down his brother's widow, who is reluctant at first to accept any sort of financial help even though it is apparent that she needs it, mostly because she is angry with him since she feels that he deserted his brother years ago.
 
Lyon then decides to start fighting to help his sister-in-law and his niece and Joshua would act as an insurance man who delivers checks to her frequently. Meanwhile, agents of the Foreign Legion have caught up with him in Los Angeles, and they are trying to apprehend him once more. Lyon does not want any part of it, and a fight ensues. After a struggle, he manages to escape, but breaks a rib.   Cynthia, Lyon's sponsor, has been seeking to take advantage of Lyon's string of victories by stacking the odds in favor of a hugely tough fighter named "Attilla the Hun", to which she will use Lyon by betting a large amount on "Attilla", and makes an arrangement with the Legion soldiers that she will hand him over to them after he has been defeated thoroughly.
Leon has his final fight with Atilla, but though he is hampered by his broken rib. The snag with Attilla is (as is unknown to Lionheart) that his trademark move following every win is to "kill" his opponent. After an intense fight where it appears "Attilla" has won, Joshua reveals during a time-out for the best of reasons (Lionheart's family), he has placed all of his own money on Attilla as a form of "insurance".    Lyon, angered by this news, bounces back and summons up all his remaining strength to defeat Atilla. Two members of the Foreign Legion are in attendance though, and they escort him back to the apartment, where they give him some time to wash up before being deported back to Africa, where he will be court martialed for desertion.
 
After an emotional good-bye, Lyon and the Legion members speed off. Just down the road, moved by the family's heartbreak, they decide to lie to the Foreign Legion command by making it appear that they failed in their mission to recapture Lyon, and they let him go out of respect for his determination, will power, and personal integrity, both during the fight and helping out his sister-in-law all this time. Ecstatic, Lyon returns to the apartment, where his sister-in-law, niece, and Joshua are all both surprised and thankful that he has come back.
About The Movie poster....
 
Jean-Claude does have a different look on the poster than in the movie. On the poster of Lionheart we see Van Damme with a cool haircut, black shirt, very strong.  In the movie we find another Van Damme. He has a different haircut and has a softer, maybe we can call it a more emotional look. Also they replaced his cool jeans and the black shirt disappeared.
 
Sheldon Lettich, director, confirmed that the poster was shot well before they made the movie, before they established what Van Damme's look was going to be in the movie. Here on the right there are some more promo's, all with Van Damme's strong attitude.
 
For me personal, "Lionheart" (a.k.a. "Wrong Bet") was the first Van Damme movie I ever saw. I was impressed by Jean-Claude. For sure, without this movie, there would not be this website.
 
"Lionheart" made me a fan. First of all because the movie poster of the VHS-video attracted me when I was walking in a videostore and the poster made me decide to buy my first Van Damme movie. The second surprise whas the movie itself. The movie is not a typical action or revenge story, but "Lionheart" is a movie about a man who's trying to help his family: the strong man from the movieposter became a very sympathetic man.
 
"Lionheart" is one of Van Damme's most rewatchable movies. The fights are very cool. They are rough and powerful. The fights are on many different locations with many different fighters. The movie has no boring minute.  JCVD looks great. "Lionheart" is all about street-fighting. VanDammage at his very best. The relentless Fighter fom the movieposter appears to have a big heart and that makes this movie special.