No matter if you are an action movie fanatic or not, chances are that you are quite familiar with the name Dolph Lundgren.
The fans of the genre will agree with me that Dolph is a crucial ingredient of the funny action movie universe.
In the following paragraphs, I’ll present some interesting facts about the Swedish action star and I’ll also give you an insight about the important parts of his life and career that made him one of the most recognizable names in the action industry.
Born in 1957 in Stockholm, Dolph Lundgren became an actor like most of the famous actors did – by accident.
He started training Karate and Judo at an early age because of his troubled relationship with his father who didn’t believe in him.
When a teenager he started playing drums and expressed his desire to be a rock star.
In the late 70’s he graduated the difficult discipline chemical engineering at the prestigious Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, proving that the tall boy (196 sm.) with an extraordinary physique has brains too.
He then moved to the United States to continue his education and to pursue the American Dream.
At a later point, he even enrolled at the M.I.T. which is unofficially labeled as ‘genius only’.
Meanwhile, he continued to practice martial arts and he earned a 2nd-degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate.
In the early 80’s he even enriched his fighting C.V. by becoming a two-time European champion.
However, he decided to fully devote to his acting aspirations, motivated by his friends who told him that he got the looks to become an action star.
First Steps in the Action Genre
His then-employer, the singer and model Grace Jones with whom he developed a love relationship and for whom Dolph did a bodyguard work, arranged him a small role in the blockbuster ‘James Bond: A View To Kill’ (1985).Lundgren had a minor role, playing a KGB agent but this marked his first on-screen appearance in a Hollywood movie. He was already in!
The things started to get more interesting when he beat out 5000 guys competing for the role of Ivan Drago in Sylvester Stallone’s future classic ‘Rocky IV’ (1985).
Dolph remembers contacting indirectly Stallone for the role but at first, he was turned down because of his towering height.
He trained six days per week for the physically demanding role of a Russian boxer who stands against Rocky for the championship title.
By the way, recently it was reported that the Swedish karate machine will reprise his iconic role in the highly anticipated ‘Creed’ sequel ‘Creed 2’.
That will be epic!
Following the huge success of ‘Rocky IV’, things started to go smoothly for Dolph in the movie business.
In the movie, Dolphy plays the heroic warrior He-Man who confronts dark powers and powerful armies in a fantasy world, based on a children’s cartoon.
The movie performed badly in the box office received poor critic reviews, and Lundgren was described as a wooden lead.
Nevertheless, it was a forward step for the ambitious Dolph and he started to build a reputation in the industry.
The beginning of a long and action-packed career
Some good funny action movies followed such as the violent ‘Red Scorpion’ (1989), in which Dolph portrayed a KGB agent sent to the African jungle to participate in a war.
As per the movie critics, the huge biceps of Dolph and the size of his chest communicate more emotion than his lips.
I presume that this stays true for most of his films.
He then starred in Marvel’s ‘The Punisher’ (1989) in which he played the revengeful Frank Castle.
This one was also heavily panned by the critics, who described it as ‘generic’ and ‘emtionless’ and Dolph’s performance as ‘stone-faced’.
The actioner is a marvelous fun, though.
More Iconic Roles and Commercial Success
In 1991, Dolph participated in another action hit that was rejected by the critics – ‘Showdown in Little Tokyo’.
The first big success came in 1992 when Dolph Lundgren was set to participate in the big-budgeted blockbuster, turned into instant classic ‘Universal Soldier’.
Directed by the Hollywood big shot Roland Emmerich and starring also the martial arts sensation Jean-Claude Van Damme, the movie was a huge success and solidified Van Damme and Lundgren as one of the biggest action stars of the 90’s.
Dive into the direct-to-video genre
Nowadays, Dolph is mostly known for doing numerous cheap action movies which are ‘banned’ from entering the theaters.
Such movies are for example ‘Hidden Agenda’ (2001), ‘Retrograde’ (2004) and ‘Missionary Men’ (2007) which he has directed.
I suppose that many of his direct-to-video movies are known only to the die-hard Dolphy fans or to the Bulgarians, as Dolph shoots a huge number of his actioners in Bulgaria because it is a cheap filmmaking destination.
Return to the Big Screen
‘The Expendables’ (2010) gained worldwide success and was a commercial hit.
Sylvester Stallone had the original idea to gather together on the screen some of the most celebrated action stars from the 90’s in an explosive macho action-thriller.
Dolph’s role as the mercenary Gunner Jensen was revitalizing for his career and gave him mainstream success which resulted in another two sequels in 2012 and in 2014.
Lundgren is expected to reprise his role in the fourth instalment of the franchise along with many other famous stars not only from the action genre.
- Dolph is known to play drums and guitar.
- He maintains his own website dolphlundgren.com.
- He is among the top action actors over 50 in great shape.
- He was once a model.
- He is a published author. He has books related to dieting and fitness.
- He is involved in various charity organizations.
- Speaks seven languages
- He’s claimed to have an IQ of 160, which practically makes him a genius.
As you can see, Dolph Lundgren is a clever action star who plays drums and writes books.
His versatility in life cannot be replicated on the screen, where he portrays mostly bulked up meatheads who have a few cool lines before shooting the bad guys.
One thing is sure, though – the action genre would have never been the same without his solid presence.
While other action hall-of-famers such as Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme sometimes are famous for their side projects or personal life controversies, Dolph always tries to keep his personal life in privacy.
We are impatiently waiting for him to deliver another great performance as Ivan Drago in ‘Creed 2’, set for release in 2018.
Go get them, Dolph!
Who’s better – Jean-Claude Van Damme or Dolph Lundgren? Leave a comment below!