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Five minutes with...

Dolph Lundgren

By Ali Upham, DVDReview (UK), February 2008

DVD Review haven't seen your latest directing effort, Missionary Man, yet. What's it about?
It's a modern Western. I came up with this concept because I thought if I set it today, on an Indian reservation, it wouldn't be as expensive as a period piece, but it uses some of the same storyu elements as a period Western. A stranger rolls into town on a motorbike, and he goes to a funeral of a local Native Indian who ends up helping his family against thugs who're terrorising the town. But as the film progresses you realise that he's not there for that puropse, he's there to get revenge, to get redemption for something that happened a long time ago...

Who would you say influenced you as a director?
Clint Eastwood has a great, simplistic style. It never fails to amaze me how he's so economical with his editing, his storytelling. Especially in post-production, when you want to keep tinkering with your picture, but I hear stories about him where his editors'll show him the cut and he'll turn round and say, (Does pretty good Clint impersonation) "I think we're done then." (laughs). He knows if you mess with it too much it loses something special, that X-factor.

Would you think about a full-time move from acting to directing?
It would be nice to do that. I've acted in about 40 movies, mostly in the action genre and you end up playing similar characters al the time, whereas as a director you can have more fun on the other side of the lens. I think you can express yourself better as a director.

Back in the '80's an action hero had to be built like a concrete outhouse. What do you make of today's heroes?
It change. The movies today have to be smarter, more unpredictible and the people expect that, and as a filmmaker you've got to try and keep them guessing. I don't think they're as fascinated with the individual. In the '80's it was all about Sly and Arnold - he was Mr Universe, he was actually really physical, a top athlete - but the most important thing these days is that the guy is a good actor.

Do you still do a lot of training?
I haven't slacked off that much. I still lift almost as much as I used to 20 years ago. And I spar. Of course, you get a little slower, but I like that challenge of getting hit and not making things too easy for yourself. I'm trying to keep it up, not just for my job but also to feel good.

You used to do loads of your own stunts. Do you still like to get stuck in?
Yeah! On the last movie I didn't have a stunt double, because I wanted to use the money for something else. I'm not going to do crazy stuff like setting myself on fire or doing high-falls but I did things like that when I was younger and less smart (laughs). I still try to do as much as I can. I think the audience like to feel the actor in there, especially in my case as they've seen it in the pst and they expect it to be old school.

Sylvester Stallone made his comeback this year. What do you think of Rocky Balboa?
Like everyone else I was sceptical when I first heard about it, but I thought he did a good job. I think that the world is getting so fast now that people appreciate old-school stuff things that they've seen when they were kids, names like Rambo and Rocky. And if the filmmaker does a decent job then people are going to see it.

The new Rambo movie looks like a proper old-school action flick!
I've used that myself, and I think Stallone's madea wise choice to make it pretty violent and realistic, because if you kill someone its not a pretty sight. Some recent movies are so sterile and impersonal that people shoot a lot of fast camerawork, you don't really see what happens. You don't feel it.

Your first movie, was the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill. What do you make of the gritty updating of the Bond franchise?
I think it was good. Look, I'm a fan of the old Bond movies too, especially the Sean Connery movies, because he certainly had that air of actually being a dangerous guy - you actually believed he could kill somebody. And that's important, that sets some action leads apart form others, it adds a bit of an edge, a mean streak. And then with the newer Bond they've tried to bring that back, I enjoyed it.