Let A Man Come In And Do The Popcorn

So, every day I wake up, as you might guess, Furious and feeling furious. There are many reasons for that, but the smallest and most insignificant is that the hardest working man in show business doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Obviously, I’m talking about Dolph Lundgren.

He first set his mark in movie history landing the covetous role of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. [imdb Rocky IV] Drago represented the impregnable, relentless, brutal evil lurking behind the iron curtain. I mean, a whole generation grew up with him as the symbol of the USSR. Even though he lost the fight to Rocky, we all know that was the Hollywood ending- the honest ending would feature Rocky being buried next to Apollo Creed. No one is taking a beating like that from The Giant Blond Killing Machine and living to tell about it, not to mention give a rambling speech about ending the cold war.

After becoming the face of the cold war, he tackled one the most beloved and vital cartoon characters/action figures in history- He-Man. In Masters of the Universe, Lundgren’s He-Man was muscular, stiff, and awkward- exactly like the action figure. It was an award winning film and proved Dolph to be a solid draw at the box office. Highlights over the next few years included The Punisher (Thomas Jane has nothing on him) and Universal Soldier, furthuring showing his mastery of understanding muscular, stiff, and awkward characters.

[imdb Pentathlon]Then in 1993 he made the movie that sent his career in a new and final direction- Pentathlon. If you haven’t seen it, you’re at risk of expiring without seeing one of the truly unique and enjoyable films ever made. That is, if you still have a VCR or want to import the DVD from one of the select few countries where it has been released. Or if you’re lucky enough to catch it on cable, as I was. Lundgren plays Eric Brogar, an Olympic pentathlete who has defected from East Germany to the United States. Once he becomes acclimated to life in the US, he settles in to civilian life, working as a short order cook. The Neo-Nazi, take-over-the-world plot pops up in the third act, but until then Dolph gets to really show his range. And range he has. He’s a depressed short order cook, a happy-go-lucky Olympic trainee, a smitten boyfriend, an action hero, a frightened expatriate, a cowboy (but he really needed to be on a Clydesdale, his feet nearly drag on the ground when he’s riding that little nag)- and that’s all in the same movie. Not only is it a vehicle for Dolph to show his chops, but the movie was way ahead of it’s time, I mean there was a scene where someone (I won’t tell you who) gets served! That wouldn’t reach the national conscience for another decade. If you haven’t seen it, do. I guarantee you’ll wet yourself laughing.

Lundgren’s career has been on a pretty steady course since then, making direct-to-video and made-for-cable movies, the most famous being John Woo’s Blackjack. He’s recently begun writing and directing, as well as starring in, his own movies. If he’s able to begin doing that at this point in his career, there’s no denying he’s doing something right.

For those of you not hip to Dolph’s personal life, he was born in Sweden, got a master’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Sydney (Australia), and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. He dropped out of MIT to pursue his acting career. He claims to speak (with varying proficiency) seven languages and reportedly has an IQ near 160.

It is truly disgusting that Dolph Lundgren has never gotten the respect he deserves. He’s been in, usually starring in, nearly 40 movies and given us decades of enjoyment, paying some of cinema’s most iconic characters. If you’ve made it this far and still haven’t started appreciating the guy, all I can say is you’re a real piece of work. That is not to be taken as a compliment.

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