Missionary Man – Dolph Goes Pale Rider

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Dolph Lundgren used to be something of a laughing stock in Sweden, his home country. When he got his breakthrough as Ivan Drago in ROCKY IV and appeared on Swedish television, he had problems speaking Swedish and preferred doing his interviews in English. Today he says he was young and extremely nervous, and didn’t know how to behave back then. In a Swedish radio show hosted by the man himself the summer of 2008, he said “I started my career by making a complete ass out of myself and pretended I had forgotten my Swedish.”   Lots of things have happened since then, and today, Dolph, 50, is an easy going guy with a distance to his career and movies. Hopefully, he has a distance to the straight to DVD MISSIONARY MAN as well.   From beefcake to auteur. Screenplay, direction and star: Dolph Lundgren. But I’ve always liked Dolph, hey, he was the original Punisher back in 1989! If he’d had a better agent, he’d probably be at least as big a star as Jean-Claude Van Damme once was.

Do you remember Clint Eastwood’s PALE RIDER? That’s the one where Clint is Preacher; a ghostly gunfighter posing as a preacher, helping a little town in terror. I started laughing when I realized that MISSIONARY MAN is an inofficial remake of PALE RIDER! Almost scene by scene.

Biker Dolph helps the native Americans in a town terrorized by power hungry white people and a biker gang. Dolph is probably a ghost, he always carries a bible he spouts quotes from, and he beats up bad guys.

However, the mighty Dolph’s movie isn’t very good, it’s a pretentious, slow moving tale, with boring music and ugly, washed-out cinematography making it look like a film from Poland. And there’s hardly any action until the gory, violent ending. Just like in THE MECHANIK; another action flick directed by and starring Dolph, MISSIONARY MAN ends with the rugged hero blowing the head off one of the bad guys with a shotgun.   But Dolph himself looks better than ever, he’s a real manly man and his voice kind of sounds like James Coburn’s. And I liked the fact that his character in this movie wears reading glasses!

By the way, legendary B-movie director Jim Wynorski sent me this message: “I’m currently working in the same editing room where Missionary Man was cut. Dolph apparently bought three giant Clint Eastwood posters and hung them on the walls during his stay.”

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