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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Killing Machine

Dolph Lundgren has an impressive resume. He was a European heavyweight champion at karate. He completed his military training at the Swedish Amphibious Ranger School, their equivalent of Navy Seal training. He has a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney. And he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at MIT, though he soon dropped out to pursue acting.

Lundgren was also, back around the time of Rocky IV, better-looking than any of the other action heroes of the day (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Seagal, and Van Damme). He was so good-looking he didn't even really look human. Yet he was also less successful than any of those others. Why? It couldn't have been his lack of acting ability; none of the others could act either.

Perhaps it was his inability, despite the academic credentials, to choose scripts. That doesn't seem to have changed. His latest directorial and acting effort is called Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine. Evidently, that is actually the title of the movie, not just the way it's presented on the jacket of this straight-to-DVD effort.

The first clue that something was awry came during the opening credits. The first actor credited was, of course, Lundgren himself, and as his name flashed across the screen a picture of him looking grimly handsome appeared. The second actor credited was Stefanie von Pfetten. But as her name flashed on the screen, so did another picture of Lundgren, looking grimly handsome. And so it went, with each actor's name came another picture of Dolph, looking grimly handsome.

Perhaps a lifetime of having people tell you how handsome you are can skew your perspective.

There is, to be sure, a large audience which cares for action movies. To appreciate this one, you cannot care in the least about plot, character, and dialogue. Early on, Lundgren's somewhat trashy girlfriend is killed, as is his ex-wife's boyfriend. Neither Lundgren nor the ex-wife waste any time mourning, but instead quickly hop into bed with each other.

Lundgren is supposed to be very devoted to his little daughter in this movie. But at one point, he holds her in one arm while shooting at the bad guys with the other. (Wouldn't it have been wiser to set her down before he started attracting enemy gunfire?)

There wasn't a single line in the movie which elicited a chuckle, at least not by design. There also didn't seem to be a single line which wasn't a cliche. Oh well. English is Lundgren's second language.

But all of this is of course merely an excuse to show Lundgren killing a myriad of people, using wide variety of methods. (With all that killing, no wonder the death of his girlfriend didn't affect him.) The bad guys, as is customary in this type of movie, are all extremely tough-looking and also extremely poor shots: their bullets always spray harmlessly around Lundgren but never hit him.

Lundgren is a killing machine, but mostly of decent movie-making; he's not exactly the second coming of that other gloomy Swede, Ingmar Bergman. (On the other hand, he's a lot better-looking.)

Even my son, at whose behest we watched this movie, admitted afterward that he was a little less enamored of Lundgren than he had been before seeing it.


Anonymous said...

Dorothy Parker said Katherine Hepburn's acting "runs the gamut of emotions from A to B."

Dolph Lundgren: from A to A?

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Well put. He's another example of IQ not equating to acting ability. (This assumes his Fulbright etc. denote a high IQ, which they probably do.)