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Wrong Bet (Lionheart) (1990)

  Directed by: Sheldon Lettich
Written by: Sheldon Lettich, Jean-Claude Van Damme, S.N. Warren
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Links: Wrong Bet on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"A Damme classic" - a review by em_fiction

At my last visit to the video store, I checked out a section that I hadn't been to in a long time - the action section. Not the recent mainstream CGI bullshit action, I'm talking old action. I'm talking about the action section as in the home of Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Eric Roberts and my personal favourite, Mr. Jean-Claude "ultimate 360 degree leaping kick" Van Damme. I'm a huge fan of his work, pre-Timecop (1994), mainly because I grew up watching nothing but that kind of martial arts. Wrong Bet was definitely a timeless revisit to this classic genre.

Lyon Gaultier (Van Damme) is a deserter in the Foreign Legion. Upon hearing the news that his brother has been murdered, Lyon illegally escapes the military to go to America in order to investigate the incident, as well as look out for his now widowed sister-in-law and niece. In order to help her make ends meet, Lyon uses his skill in martial arts to enter numerous dangerous underground fights.

There is one particular thing that I look forward to most in every Van Damme film: the fights. Van Damme's fight scenes are always superbly staged and extremely cathartic; Wrong Bet being no exception. Even watching this film now, I still find myself screaming at the television set with my cousin (who also grew up alongside me and was fed just as good a dose of Van Damme). The fight scenes in this film are very superior. Constantly drawn back by some sort of disadvantage as well as an opponent who looks almost unstoppable, Van Damme always gets through each of the fights with his amazing martial arts. His magnificent kicks and punches continually keep the fight scenes engaging and highly entertaining.

The characters in this film are all developed and work extremely well. Lyon is a generous, kind-hearted man who is also filled with determination. We also meet Joshua (Harrison Page), the token black sidekick who tags alongside Lyon and supports him through all the ordeals. And of course, no action film is complete without a villain, or villainess in this case - the very chic but deceiving queen of underground, Cynthia (Deborah Rennard). That's another thing about most Van Damme films: the characters always become heavily polarised. You actually start to care more and more about the protagonists while the antagonists become more and more heavily despised. This general formula never wears away the film, but rather promises and ends up bringing about a climax that is both satisfying and affirming.

This is one of the films I highly rate but would rather not recommend to everyone. The martial arts genre is rather unpopular since the filmmaking may not, uh, reach the standards of many other films, which is why a lot of you will find it cheap and meaningless. Nevertheless, it's a tremendously satisfying watch for any die-hard martial arts fan, which I hope still exist.

em_fiction gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 23 Jan 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 1
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Reader comments

  1. OMIGOD, I love this movie, I love Abdel Qissi a lot. I would like to know more about him. Where can I find pictures and a better detailed bio of him??

    A comment from Jeanelle Mandes on Sat 20 Mar 2004 09:18 #

  2. Sorry Jeanelle, we just review films - we're not biographers : )
    His IMDb page is fairly useless, try punching his name into Google and see how far that gets you. That's the best I can do. Have fun!

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from nofreelist's own em_fiction on Mon 22 Mar 2004 16:45 #

  3. "Action + Action"

    There's only one thing to say about 'Wrong Bet' - classic.The hardcore fans of any martial art style film can easily enjoy this mad movie. The characters are memorable and the story is very entertaining. Have a look at it, all you brushes!!

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from FReeLY on Fri 01 Apr 2005 11:44 #

  4. it was the best van damme movie i haVE EVER SEEN

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from RICKY MARTIN on Sun 11 Dec 2005 22:45 #


    Rating given: 10

    A comment from RICKY MARTIN on Sun 11 Dec 2005 23:00 #

  6. i like this movie a lot
    i am great fan of jean- claude and this is one of the best movies ever!
    The scene with is brother was cool wen he was set on fire en the big fight with atilla was hardcore.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Nordin on Mon 08 May 2006 02:58 #

  7. This is one of my favourite movies of all time. The last fight is so emotional.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from aaa on Mon 24 Sep 2007 20:13 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.33 (6 ratings)

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