“Sommar” is Swedish for “summer”. It’s also the name of a classic radio show that’s been aired every summer for decades and decades. Every day during summertime, a new, more or less famous or well-known Swedish personality – actor, artist, writer… – talks for a couple of hours and plays his or hers favorite music.
The summer of 2008, mighty Dolph Lundgren; the Swedish actor and director, hosted an episode of “Sommar” and talked about his life and career, and played some very unexpected music (accordion music? Say what?).
Dolph Lundgren used to be something of a laughing stock in Sweden. When he got his breakthrough as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV 1985 and appeared on Swedish television, he had problems speaking Swedish and preferred doing his interviews in English. In “Sommar”, Dolph said he was young and extremely nervous, and didn’t know how to behave back then. “I started my career by making a complete ass out of myself and pretended I had forgotten my Swedish.”
In his radio show, Dolph mentioned things about his upbringing and parents he had never told anyone before, not even his daughters. The whole show turned quite sensitive, it was actually pretty moving hearing this big guy of action talk about being bullied as a child and beaten up by his father.
What happened after “Sommar”, was that everybody in Sweden suddenly liked Dolph and wanted him to show up in talk shows. Dolph made an impression of being a really nice and clever guy with self distance.
And simultaneously, Dolph’s career abroad took a new turn, something that of course didn’t have anything at all to do with what happened in Sweden. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Dolph’s. He made some really good action movies like Universal Soldier and the amazing original The Punisher – and he made some, well, not very good flicks. The last decade, his career seemed to stall, he kept on appearing in movies, but some of them looked and felt very cheap and were downright awful – like The Minion (what the hell was that? And I actually saw it in a theater in Cannes!). Most of his movies from the last ten years are from NU Image, a B-movie company with budgets slightly larger than average, and interestingly, their sister company is Millennium, which produces bigger movies for theatrical release, starring name actors. It’s pretty strange that NU Image is the parent company, and not Millennium.
A couple of years ago, Dolph started directing – and sometimes also writing the stories or screenplays. I haven’t seen his The Defender from 2004, starring himself and Jerry Springer, but I did catch The Mechanik (2005) and modern western Missionary Man (2007). Unfortunately, they aren’t very good – but Dolph proves himself a very competent director.
And now it’s 2009 – and it sure seems like Dolph Lundgren’s career is taking a new turn – straight upwards.
First up is Command Performance, starring and directed by Dolph, and written by Dolph and B-movie stalwart Steve Latshaw, who’s written several of the legendary Fred Olen Ray’s movies. According to the IMDb and the movie’s homepage, Command Performance is about a Moscow charity concert that turns bloody when armed extortionists take the head liner American pop-star Venus and the Russian President with his family hostage. Help is on the way when the drummer of a heavy metal warm-up band, an ex-bad ass biker played by Dolph, and a young Russian F.S.B. agent team up to fight back. But our two heroes are seriously outnumbered and things aren’t as simple as they appear when old ghosts from the Soviet Union appear to haunt the present in this fast paced action piece.
Dolph as a drummer in a metal band! I can’t wait to see it. This NU Image production seems to have a budget that’s above average, and what it also has, is an extremely ambitious homepage, and the promo and teaser for Command Performance sure are fun and look promising.
One small part in the movie is played by Ida Lundgren; Dolph’s 12-year-old daughter. In a recent interview on Swedish television, Dolph said he needed a young actress and why not use Ida? “She’s probably the only one in the family with a talent for acting,” he said, mocking himself and his somewhat limited thespian skills.
Universal Soldier: The Next Generation, new entry in the Universal Soldier series is on its way, once again starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Although his character was killed and chopped up in the firast movie, Dolph Lundgren will return as well. However, according to Dolph himself, his appearance is more like a cameo.
At the Cannes market in May 2008, I picked up a flyer for a Dolph Lundgren starrer called Icarus. Yet again written and directed by the big Swede, this CineTel movie, which is in post-production, is about trained KGB assassin, Matt Scofield (codename Icarus) has worked years ago as a sleeper in the USA. After the Soviet Union Collapsed, he tries to start over and lead a respectable quite life. But soon, Matt is forced to face his demons of the past and protect the loved ones of the present. He must fight against everything to save the only thing he has done right in his life. He must uncover who is after him and get to his family before all is lost. A trailer is up at YouTube.
Finally, we have the really big news. Dolph has gotten himself a big part in NU Image’s The Expendables, written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also stars in this film about a team of mercenaries that is sent to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator to liberate the population. Their team is “expendable,” hired to do jobs that no one else can or will. The Expendables is the first movie in Stallone’s two-picture deal with NU Image, the next project is Rambo V.
And finally, Dolph is in great company in this big budget, explosive action flick, set for release in 2010: the other actors are Jason Statham, Jet Li, Forest Whitaker, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels.
After years in straight to DVD actioners, Dolph is finally back in the big league.
Something Hans “Dolph” Lundgren really deserves.