Episode 13: Johnny Mnemonic

Who would have thought that after facing the Yakuza, squaring off against Van Damme, and winning the Olympic Gold, Dolph Lundgren would go back to playing a villain for the third round in his career?  Not to mention a religious nutcase???  On this month’s episode, we take a look at 1995’s cyberpunk thriller, Johnny Mnemonic!  In this bizarre cult classic, Keanu Reeves takes center stage as the titular character who smuggles valuable data across borders in his brain!  Lundgren shows up as the Street Preacher – a deranged religious bounty hunter enhanced by cybernetics tasked with hunting down Keanu Reeves’ character at any cost!  While Lundgren’s role is a brief one, he is arguably one of the more memorable aspects of the film.  Joining me to chat this film is Craig Cohen, host of the SlyCast – The Sylvester Stallone Fan Podcast!  Could this be one of Lundgren’s most disturbing characters in his filmography?  Are there one too many characters involved in the film, or does it balance them all just right?  In what ways was Johnny Mnemonic ahead of its time and set the stage for Reeves’ later work, The Matrix?  Is Lundgren in the film too little, or is his screen time just right?  Join Craig and I as we crack open a comprehensive discussion of Johnny Mnemonic!

Major thanks to Craig Cohen for joining me; I’m sure this won’t be the last time!  Please check out Craig’s show, the SlyCast as well as his Ramones blog!  As always, please feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you subscribe!

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Episode 12: Interview with actor, James Chalke

On this special episode, I had the privilege of chatting with accomplished actor and close personal friend of Dolph Lundgren, James Chalke.  Chalke has had an extremely impressive career, and has proven to be a real renaissance man – former member of the British Special Forces, martial artist, and actor on both the stage and screen.  When did Chalke and Lundgren first meet?  What has it been like collaborating with Lundgren over the past decade?  Which of Chalke’s film roles was the most fun to shoot?  What future collaborations do Chalke and Lundgren have in the works?  How has the climate of action cinema changed in the past 20 years?  How are Lundgren and Chalke working to bring back the glory days of action cinema? And what exactly went down on set of their upcoming zombie thriller, Dead Trigger?  Join us as Chalke and answer these and other burning questions.

Major thanks to James Chalke for joining me.  Please feel free to rate and review the show on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you go to subscribe!

Episode 11: Pentathlon

pentathlon

On this month’s episode, we’re discussing the 1994 sports drama / action thriller Pentathlon.  In this film Dolph Lundgren played Eric Brogar, an East German Olympic athlete who defects to America in order to escape his sadistic coach.  Yet his violent past catches up with him in America, and Eric is forced to rely on his athletic training in order to survive.  At the offset, it was an exciting project for Dolph, as it allowed him to try a new role, as well as giving him the opportunity to be the unofficial spokesperson for the US Modern Pentathlon team.  Yet like many projects in Hollywood, Pentathlon did not turn out as planned…  Appearing on the podcast to chat Pentathlon is Mike Fury, author of Life of Action: Interviews with the Men and Women of Martial Arts and Action Cinema.  Did the film deserve the kind of release it received?   What kind of problems arose in the film’s production?  Just how different is the final product from the initial story concept that Dolph signed on for?  Is the film misguided and struggle with the type of movie it wants to be?  Could this have been Lundgren’s version of Rocky if the film’s budget wasn’t tampered with and slashed prior to shooting?  Was this film a catalyst in helping give Dolph the directing bug 10 years later?  Join us as we break this film down!

Special thanks to Mike Fury for joining me!  I’m sure this won’t be the last time!  Check out his book Life of Action at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold.  Also check out his website:  mikefury.net.

Please feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever else you subscribe!

Episode 10: Army of One / Joshua Tree

army of one

In 1993 Dolph Lundgren followed up his villainous role in Universal Soldier with this underrated chase thriller.  In Army of One (also known as Joshua Tree) Lundgren plays Anthony Wellman Santee, an escaped convict who carves a warpath through the California desert as he attempts to clear his name and take vengeance on the crooked cops who set him up.  Taking inspiration from the “California desert” pictures of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Army of One is packed with bloody shootouts, high speed car chases, and Lundgren as the ultimate badass.  The directorial debut of legendary Hollywood stuntman Vic Armstrong, Army of One is fairly basic in terms of its story, yet that didn’t deter Armstrong or Lundgren from delivering a memorable shoot-em-up!  Joining me to chat this violent VHS-gem of the ‘90’s is David J. Moore, author of the excellent reads The Good, The Tough, and The Deadly: Action Movies and Stars 1960’s – Present and World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies.  Which clichés of ‘90’s action movies does Army of One have fun with?  How did Armstrong make the most of the film’s modest budget?  How integral is the film’s setting, particularly Joshua Tree, to the film as a whole?  How does the score help differentiate the film from all the other action flicks of the ’90’s?  And was this film in fact the first American production to capitalize on the John Woo / Hong Kong style of filmmaking?  Join David and I as we discuss Army of One, his action movie compendium book, and Dolph’s role in the realm of action heroes!

Major thanks to David J. Moore for joining me.  Please pick up his books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold!  Feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you subscribe!

Episode 9: Showdown in Little Tokyo

showdown-tokyo

In 1991, the “buddy cop” genre was a staple of the action films of the era.  Action-packed with tongue firmly in cheek, these films were testosterone-heavy and fun!  Showdown in Little Tokyo remains a prime example of this bygone era.  Dolph Lundgren stars as Sgt. Chris Kenner, a wrecking ball of a cop who is partnered with a young Brandon Lee as they take on the Yakuza who are on the verge of taking over Los Angeles.  And wouldn’t you know it…  These detectives have the necessary martial arts skills needed to stop this takeover!  At barely 80 minutes, Showdown packs in loads of action sequences, Tia Carrere, training montages, funny banter, and unforgettable one-liners (some that I imagine many would choose to forget)!  Joining me to reminisce about this cult classic are two regulars to the show – Chris Prentice and Jeremie Damoiseau (of the Dolph Ultimate website).  Is Lundgren’s Kenner actually a reincarnated samurai warrior (who’s also invincible)?  What does David Michael Frank’s memorable score bring to the film?  Exactly how many continuity errors are present in Showdown?  And what is with Brandon Lee’s infamous line of dialogue?  Join us as we discuss Showdown, its production, and cult status 27 years later!

Major thanks to Chris Prentice and Jeremie Damoiseau for joining me.  Please check out Jeremie’s Lundgren fansite: dolph-forum.com.  Also be sure to be on the lookout for Jeremie’s book, The Punisher: The Untold Story of an 80’s Cult Classic, to be released soon in the US!  www.facebook.com/ThePunisher.FilmBook; www.instagram.com/punisher.book; twitter.com/Punisher_Book.

Feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you subscribe!

Episode 8: Universal Soldier

Universal Soldier

Technically, the next film in Lundgren’s filmography is the cult classic, Showdown in Little Tokyo, however, scheduling conflicts arose, so our Showdown discussion will have to wait until next month.  But not to worry, one of the landmark moments in Dolph Lundgren’s career came in 1992 when he faced off against fellow action star, Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier!  In this violent piece of 1990’s testosterone, Lundgren went back to playing a villain for the second round, and the results are glorious!  Directed by Independence Day’s Roland Emmerich, Universal Soldier gave audiences what Arnold and Sly would not at the time – two action stars in their prime squaring off…  And boy, oh boy, do they square off!  Chris Prentice joins me once again to break this film down at great length.  Was Universal Soldier actually ahead of its time?  Just how groundbreaking was it for the action genre?  Is this Lundgren’s best performance?  And just how badass are those UNISOL suits?  Join us as Chris and I swoon over this film for 2+ hours!

Please feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you go to subscribe!

Episode 7: Cover-Up

Cover-Up

After boxing Rocky Balboa, battling Skeletor, and taking out an intergalactic drug dealer, Dolph Lundgren took it a little easier for his sixth outing in the moody, Hitchcock-esque thriller, Cover-Up.  The film was a slight change of pace for Lundgren, where he plays Mike Anderson, an American journalist in Israel covering the mysterious bombing of a US naval base.  More of a thriller than a straight-up action film, Cover-Up reteamed Lundgren with his Punisher co-star Louis Gossett Jr.  The film had the makings for a decent political thriller, but is it able to pull it off?  Marcus Jones of the “Jean-Pod Van Damme” podcast joins me to discuss the film and to answer some other burning questions:  Is the film actually more intelligent and ahead of its time than we’re giving it credit for?  How does Lundgren do at drama?  Why is Lou Gossett Jr. in the film so little?  Just how misleading is the box art for the film?  Why is this one film that has been forgotten and “covered-up” in Lundgren’s classic filmography?  Join us as we “open-up” an analysis of this 27-year-old film.

Major thanks to Marcus Jones for joining me.  Feel free to check out his podcast, Jean-Pod Van Damme.  Also, special thanks to Fesliyan Studios for the show’s intro. music.  Please feel free to rate and review the show on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you go to subscribe!!!

Episode 6: I Come in Peace / Dark Angel

I-Come-in-Peace-Dolph-Lundgren

It’s Christmas time in Houston, and a particularly evil creature is stirring… one from outer space who wants your brain endorphins!  Fortunately for Houston, they have Jack Caine!  On this episode, Chris Prentice joins me once again to discuss the next film in Dolph Lundgren’s filmography, I Come in Peace, a.k.a. Dark Angel.  In this violent, witty, and original ‘90’s action film, Lundgren plays a maverick Houston detective on the trail of an intergalactic drug dealer.  This was Lundgren’s fifth leading role, as well as his opportunity to showcase not just some of his martial arts skills, but his ability to play what was relatively new territory for him at the time… a regular guy.  Despite its unique premise, killer direction, and fun supporting characters, I Come in Peace did not find its audience until home video.  And almost 30 years later, I Come in Peace is still a blast to come back to.  It’s a reminder of what made ‘90’s action movies so memorable.  What do director Craig R. Baxley, Dolph Lundgren, and Matthias Hues all bring to this film?  What kind of an advantage did casting essentially athletes bring to the film’s stunt work and action sequences?  Why does the evil alien speak only four words (an ironic phrase at that), while the good alien is fluent in English?  Does the film have one too many plot threads, or does it balance them all just right?  And just how badass is Lundgren’s Jack Caine?  Join us as Chris and I answer these and all other burning questions, in addition to establishing our new mantra – What Would Caine Do?

Special thanks to Chris Prentice for once again joining me.  Also, special shout out to Fesliyan Studios for the show’s opening music.  Please feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you subscribe!!!

Episode 5: The Punisher (1989)

dolph as punisher

Long before Jon Bernthal took on the role as Marvel Comics vigilante The Punisher (not to mention before Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson), Dolph Lundgren was the first to star as the tortured anti-hero.  Made in 1989, The Punisher stands as the first official adaptation of a Marvel Comics property, not to mention Lundgren’s fourth theatrical feature and third leading role.  Nowadays, people seem to forget how hard it was for Marvel Comics to get a film made based on one of their properties.  Before they could finance and distribute their own films, Marvel Comics was owned by the majorly independent (and now-defunct) New World Pictures.  Seeing opportunity in the creative properties available to them, New World made the practical decision (again, this was 1989) and chose The Punisher as their first Marvel Comics-based film.  Ahead of its time for a comic book adaptation, The Punisher has long been criticized since its release, yet there are also those who appreciate it not just as a Dolph Lundgren vehicle, but as an early Marvel Comics film.  One of the biggest fans of this gritty Death Wish-esque thriller is my friend and fellow Dolph fan, Jeremie Damoiseau.  In fact, Jeremie has written a book on the genesis, production, and reaction(s) over the years to this violent, action classic!  Joining me once again, Jeremie and I discuss the film at length.  Why is it that the film was relegated direct to video in the United States?  Just how method did Lundgren go in playing Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher?  Is the fact that Castle does NOT wear the iconic skull really THAT big of an issue?  How does this version stack up against the other interpretations of this iconic character?  Join us as Jeremie and I analyze this 1980’s cult classic.

Special thanks to Jeremie Damoiseau for joining me.  Please check out his Dolph Lundgren website: www.dolph-ultimate.com or www.dolph-forum.com.  Also, please check out the page for his book on the making of the film – The Punisher: The Untold Story of an 80’s Cult Classic (to be released soon in the US!):  www.facebook.com/ThePunisher.FilmBook; www.instagram.com/punisher_book.

As always, thanks to Fesliyan Studios for the show’s opening music.  Please feel free to rate and review the show on iTunes!

Episode 4: Interview with Christopher Hatton, writer/director of BATTLE OF THE DAMNED (2013)

Dolph and Chris HattonWe’re jumping way ahead in the Dolph Lundgren filmography… all the way to 2013!  On this episode I had the pleasure of speaking with Christopher Hatton, writer and director of the underrated zombie-horror-action flick, Battle of the Damned. In this film Lundgren portrayed Max Gatling — a Snake Plisskin-esque hero, who teams up with a band of renegade robots on a mission to rescue an industrialist’s daughter in a post-apocalyptic Asia overrun with zombies.  If it sounds like a wild film, it is!  It was relatively new territory for Lundgren, as this was the first time we saw him team up with robots and battle zombies.  Christopher Hatton was gracious enough to speak with me at length about his time in the film industry as well as his time working on the film.  Is the film an official sequel to his previous film, Robotropolis?  What was it like filming a science fiction film in a country so close to the equator?  What kinds of limitations was Hatton up against in filming on a tight schedule with a limited budget?  How was Hatton able to to find instant production value out of an abandoned shopping mall?  Why is the direct-to-video film industry dying, and what is killing it?  Join us as Christopher Hatton and I have this spirited discussion on one of the more original films in the Lundgren canon!

Special thanks to Christopher Hatton for his time.  Also, special shout out to Fesliyan Studios for the show’s intro. track!