Blu-Ray Review: A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave (1990)

awol-van-damme101 Films have released this classic film from Jean-Claude Van Damme and director Sheldon Lettich (Writer -Rambo III) on Blu-Ray in the UK for the first time as part of their ‘Cult Classics’ collection .

Upon receiving news that his brother in Los Angeles is seriously injured, Lyon Gaultier (Van Damme) deserts the French Foreign Legion from a remote outpost in North Africa. Fleeing from two of the Legion’s security force who have orders to bring him back at any cost, Lyon reluctantly turns to the illegal, bare-knuckles underground fighting circuit to raise the money he needs to help his brother’s family.

vlcsnap-816964This story of the conflicted fighter who is expected to throw a fight is nothing new in Cinema; these stories have been told many times. The foreign legion element is the only thing that is new here; but not that new. Released in 1990, this film seems like a hang-over from the 80s. And as if we needed it pointing out, the largely distracting music cues that burst in at various times make this abundantly clear. Is this really necessary? The cinematography really dates this film as-well, shot like a wannabe Rocky.


All that said; this is one of Van Damme’s better performances as he manages to find some depth to the character of ‘Lionheart’ trying his best to help his only close relatives. He is aided and abetted by his questionable but good-hearted new manager/friend Joshua (in an endearing performance from Harrison Page).

This Blu-Ray transfer looks surprisingly good; how-ever there is no way of escaping the grainy quality of the original which may be off putting to some; and I think the audio transfer is less successful.

As with the other discs I have seen from the 101 films collection there is no special features and the disc menus are not themed specifically for this title; which is a shame but the pricing is reasonable at least.

Overall I would give this Blu-Ray 3/5 – which is a recommendation.

Available for order now from Amazon.
See more at 101 Films.

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