Dolph Lundgren has been a big inspiration to me ever since I saw him in ROCKY 4 as the bigger- than- life Russian fighter Ivan Drago. I went on to hit the weights hardcore after seeing his incredible physical display in that film and I became an instant fan of his. Mr. Lundgren followed up his star- making turn in the Stallone classic with some fine films like RED SCORPION, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, THE PUNISHER (he's still the real celluloid Castle to me!), I COME IN PEACE, BIG SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, ARMY OF ONE and the list goes on!
Dolph recently helmed two films in which he also starred: THE DEFENDER (read my review of it HERE) and THE MECHANIK. The former is now out on DVD and we got to talk shop with Dolph about it right here. Here’s how the bout turned out!
Before THE DEFENDER fell in your lap as a director, was helming a motion picture a goal of yours?
Yes. Just couldn't find the right project. This way, fate caught up with me. Sometimes that's preferable...
When the film was passed from Sidney J. Furie to you during pre-production, what changes (if any) did you make in terms of the screenplay, casting, what- not to make it your film?
I only had 10 days of active prep. The casting was already done. However, I had worked extensively on the script with Sidney and the writer, Doug Miller. That enabled me to keep refining the story during prep and principal photography. Thankfully, I was able to make last-minute decisions on how the film was shot. How visually to tell the story.
Wardrobe was a bit of a nightmare. 10 days to costume a dozen actors. Trying to make them look good, authentic and cinematically right. In sub-zero temperatures in Romania.
What would you say was your biggest challenge throughout the shoot taking into account that you were both the star and the director of the picture?
All directors' nightmare: so much to say, not enough time.
I really liked your eye in terms of the film’s visuals; very kinetic. Having worked with so many solid action directors, who would you say you learned from the most?
For visuals: Sly Stallone and Roland Emmerich. For working with actors: Sidney Furie.
How present were you when the film was in post-production? Did you have any input as to its editing?
I made sure to be there for the entire post-period. That way I could learn as much as possible. By the way, editing is one of the most stimulating parts of film-making. Solving a giant jigsaw puzzle. Some of my long forgotten engineering skills came in handy, I guess.
Is directing a film that you won’t be starring in, a future goal of yours?
My future goal is to find or develop a piece of material that really excites me. Whether I direct and star or just direct, doesn't matter.
Will Dolph Lundgren ever direct, or even star in for that matter, a romantic comedy?
Why not? My wife says I'm a romantic.
Having loved your performance and the dynamics in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, is there any chance or plans for you and Van Damme to team up again in one film?
Nothing so far.
With the advent of ROCKY 6 being shot in December and Mr. T having a returning cameo in the film, any chance that we’ll see Ivan Drago return too?
I'm afraid he's still in Siberia for losing the first fight.
THE MECHANIK, another action film in which you starred and directed, is finished. Being that it was your second directorial effort, would you say that you are growing after each film?
I certainly hope so.
When will THE MECHANIK land on North American shores?
Next year with Sony Screen Gems.
Of all the films you’ve made, which one would you die to sequalize? I opt for I COME IN PEACE and RED SCORPION.
Red Scorpion is a great idea.
I’d like to end off with a big thank you as I’ve been a fan of yours since ROCKY 4 and your career has brought me much inspiration and entertainment over the years…so thank you Mr. Lundgren and keep up the good work!
I appreciate it very much. Hope to talk to you again soon!
I’d like to thank Dolph Lundgren for the taking the time to talk to us, for all the groovy films with which he’s graced us and wish him the best with his future action- packed endeavors. Keep rocking Dolph! You the man!