assassin to commie crusher!
delivers the sting of the Red Scorpion
By James Steranko,
Prevue 73 vol. 2 n° 33, October 1988
Nine bronze-hued arachnids creep tortuously up the massive back
of their unsuspecting victim.
After staggering through the desert waste, brutalized and bleeding,
the man has only one thought-to escape his human pursuers. Each
breath a lesson in pain, he collapses, surrendering to exhaustion.
Momentarily eluding the Russian manhunters, he uses the opportunity
to rest and regain his strength, unaware of the creeping menace
only inches away.
As scorpions skitter across his back, the night silence is shattered
by the staccato of an approaching helicopter, its searchlight
sweeping relentlessly across the desert floor. Suddenly, as two
of the poisonous insects writhe in violent confrontation with
each other, the man realizes he has become their target, too.
Knowing any movement will be detected bu the hovering chopper,
he forces himself to remain motionless, even as one of the grotesque
creatures claws along his naked neck, stinger poised mercilessly-and
In his new thriller, Red Scorpion, Dolph Lundgren is ready
to make any sacrifice for realism. His nine nasty nemeses are
authentic and alive, even though they have been treated with
radiation to neutralize their potency for a short period of time.
Nonetheless, they are still capable of inflicting numbing nerve
poison. Several methods to protect the star have been discussed,
from a thin metal sheet worn under his tank top to wrapping the
scorpions'claws and tails in plastic. Alerted to the problem,
crew members have volunteered to double Lundgren in the scorpion-biting
scene, the only point of contention being the price per bite.
Lundgren settles the matter. "If one of them bites me, he
bites me!" he says, while the director Joseph Zito gingerly
picks up one of the creatures, as if to prove their lack of potency
to the star.
Dressed only in shorts, a tank top and dogtags, Lundgren stands
shivering in the 30° chill. "Let's just do it!"
Although Lundgren will face more than four mounths of filmmaking
fire and fury, at a mere three-and-a-half inches long, the scorpions
are easily his deadliest co-stars.
As the camera crew prepares for the next set-up, the scorpion
"wrangler" collects his pets from the actor's back,
shocked to find that two of them have stung each other to death.
Despite the chill evening air, the discovery generates a sheen
of sweat on Lundgren's chisled features.
The action represents a key sequence in Red Scorpion,
in which Lundgren portrays a Soviet Spetsnaz assassin named Nikolai
whose experiences in the African bush transform him from a blindly-obedient
killing machine into a compassionate freedom fighter who ultimately
uses his strength and skill in the service of the rebel leader
he was ordered to terminate.
Lundgren is a natural in the context of boxoffice adventure heroes.
With Scorpion, he challenges the champions-Stallone, Schwarzenegger
and Norris-of the high-action genre. "There's always going
to be a change in generations," Lundgren says about the
future. "Those actors are very successful, but they won't
want to do this forever. At some point, they may not be physically
able to perform in the type of action films the public expects.
I'm ten years younger than they are; hopefully, I'll still be
making these pictures."
Although he has appeared in only three productions, Lundgren
dominates the screen as the savage protagonist in an explosive
drama torn from contemporary headlines. M. Emmet (The Milagro
Beanfield War) Walsh joins him as the loudmouth, wise-cracking
journalist who becomes an ally on his dangerous odyssey. Al (Airplane
I & II) White portrays the rebel leader's second-in-command,
who unwittingly leads Lundgren to his intended target, while
Brion (Red Heat) James is the sadistic, communist torturer
who drives knitting-type needles into his victims, avoiding their
vital organs, so they suffer a nightmare of agony.
The genesis of Red Scorpion evolved after producer Jack
Abramoff returned from an African visit, fascinated by the country,
it's culture and conflicts. A former real estate developer, he
and his brother Robert (a Warner TV executive) had often joked
about making a film together, but, with a basic storyline in
mind, the gag beacme reality. "At the time, there were no
first-rate action films set in Africa," he explains. "It's
as if the movie worls was ignoring the country's existence. We
felt that the African people's strength and the invasion of a
contrasting culture would make an exciting, enjoyable film."
Upon delivering the script, signing Lundgren for the lead and
Zito to direct, they launched a campaign to create a cinematic
war-and soon found themselves waging a real-life battle amidst
a barrage of political conflict and controversy.
Deciding to lense in Africa for its exotic scenery, wildlife
and natives, rather than the conveniances of Mexico or South
America, Abramoff, Zito, a location manager and production designer
spend several weeks on the Dark Continent, selecting various
sites in Swaziland, a territory situated between Mozambique and
the Republic of South Africa. After obtaining the necessary permits
from the tiny country, the unit begins constructing a mock military
base and a native village, arranging for delivery of armament
props rented from a South African broker, hiring local technicians
and auditioning extras. Everything proceeds on schedule until
the week of filming.
Although recognized as a free country by the United Nations,
tensions run high in Swaziland, the citizens acutely aware of
revolution and bloodshed in the bordering territories. Politicians
watch nervously as Lundgren and 200 foreign cast and crew members
arrive, followed by a multitude of machine guns, rocket launchers,
personnel carriers, tanks and aircraft. "Swaziland is a
tiny country with very little military hardware," Zito laughs.
"In fact, we have a larger army than they do." Unfortunately,
the cabinet members agree, and respond with a message to Abramoff
that all permits have been revoked. The entire compagny is "requested"
to leave the country. Before the production begins, it is over!
While no specific reason for the eviction has been stated, the
unit is clearly engaged in a battle of political intrigue. Alternately
pleading and arguing with government officials has no effect.
The Minister of Trade and Industry will not reconsider, even
though sets have been completed and each week's delay penalizes
the production another half-million dollars. In addition to sweating
ou the project's fiancial problems, Abramoff faces a much different
crisis personally: back in the States, his wife is expecting
the arrival of their first child-at any moment. Nonetheless,
he persists, waging a one-man war against the elements of time
and turmoil. While trying to placate the Swaziland powers, he
forms a contingency plan, sending feelers to neighboring countries.
As a member of the Presidential Holocaust Memorial Commission
and chairman of the International Freedom Foundation, he also
calls his Washington contacts, hoping they can intervene on the
"No one says straight out what the problem is, but there
are rumors we're here to attempt a coup," the producer says,
keeping his frustration in check. "It seems that in Algeria
during the 1960s, military personnel disguised as movie people
started a take-over of the country-and, around here, it hasn't
been forgotten. I can't convince them we only want to make a
Additionally, there have been rumors that Scorpion's story
is based on Angola anti-Communist guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi,
an ally of the Republic of South Africa. "The script isn't
designed around anyone," Abramoff insists. "While our
plot takes place in Africa, with resistance against Soviet troops,
Nikolai is not comparable to Savimbi in any way. There are six
ongoing conflicts here right now that match our situation, but
the script wasn't created around any particular one. If anything,
it parallels an incident in Mozambique where someone infiltrated
their resistance and assassinated the leader-and we only found
out about that one recently."
Stretched almost to the breaking point, the production's luck
does an abrupt about-face when the Namibian governement responds
to their pleas for help. Familiar with filmmaking-numerous low-budget
action pix have been shot there in the last few years-they begin
prepping for the unit's arrival, while a grateful sleep of relief
precedes the upheaval of moving a battalion of personnel and
tons of equipment a thousand miles across Africa's torrid southern
terrain, 25° below the equator.
Scheduling, budgeting, hiring and set-building begins again.
Even the script is rewritten on a more epic scale. The tale focuses
on atribe of Bushmen who save the life of Lundgren's character.
The usual round-up of extras, however, does not satisfy Abramoff-he
wants the genuine article. Local casting agents all give him
the same answer-impossible!
One enterprising individual nevertheless undertakes the task,
heading for the back-country, for two weeks of choking road dust
and endless mosquito attacks. The effort pays off: she locates
and returns with the last free tribe of Bushmen.
Climbing from trucks that brought them to the set, the 27 natives
chatter incessantly, examining each piece of equipment like excited
children at an amusement park. Stunned into a moment of silence
as Lundgren steps from his trailer, they cautiously move in for
a closer look at the blond giant. Towering over the four-and-a-half
foot tall Bushmen, Lundgren smiles as they circle, hesitantly
touching him to see if the imposing 6'5'' superman is made of
flesh and blood. Laughing, the interpreter relates their response:
"He is very, very big."
"The chief's name means the 'Left Over One,' " Lundgren
reveals, "because in 1915, when the Germans were waging
a campaign to surpress the African uprising in their colonies,
they lined up everyone in his village and machine gunned them.
Mohopstan is the only survivor."
With the translator's help, the unit attempts to explain to the
leader what they are to do. In exchange for their work, they
will be paid, fed and housed for the duration of filming. A shrewd
negociator, Mohopstan requests one additional item which really
tests Abramoff's mettle as a producer: the 92-year-old chief
requests another young wife!
The language barrier proves to be a larger problem than anticipated
with the Bushmen, who have never seen a movie. "When they
see blood, they assume it's real," Lundgren says. "So,
we're doing along with it by setting up our situations, and letting
them react naturally. After we start a sequence with them, there's
no stopping it, which means filming their rituals from begining
to end. We can't make them understand about shooting out of sequence
or stopping for another take.. They have their own ways, and
we have to respect them."
By using real Bushmen performing real ceremonies, the coverage
is much richer than anticipated. Capturing the action with as
many as three cameras, Zito discovers the chief and his subjects
are natural-born actors with a terrific sense of drama. After
a translator relates the story behind each scene, the bushmen
interpret it their own way, elaborating with a wealth of tribal
Lundgren's character reaches a pivotal point while recovering
in the Bushmen's village. Converted by their wisdom and sense
of honor, he is eventually accepted as a member, signified by
the tattooing of a scorpion on his chest. Although Lundgren willingly
immerses himself with the natives' traditions, he undeniably
finds certain aspects of their culture distasteful.
Having heard the Bushmen eat caterpillars, the filmmakers decide
to include the act in Lundgren's recovery scene. Gathering and
drying enough caterpillars to feed the entire tribe, however,
is a minor task compared to convincing Lundgren to eat them.
Throwing caution to the wind, Zito issues a no-guts/no glory
challenge to his star: "Okay, Dolph, you eat one and I'll
eat one!" Against his better judgment, Lundgren downs a
ceterpillar, much to the crew's chagrin. The Bushmen are even
more astonished; it is discovered later, not do they never eat
caterpillars, they now think it is a normal part of the crazy
filmmakers' diet. After the scene is completed, for one reason
or another, Lundgren is distracted, and fails to call Zito on
his part of the caterpillar munching challenge. To this day,
the director prays he will be on another continent when the actor
remembers their bargain.
Two savage hyenas are being prepared to trail and attack Lundgren,
who has escaped after being tortured by his comrades for failing
to accomplish his mission. Although the scene begins at night,
the animal segment occurs after dawn, when a blazing sun soon
sends the temperature to a blistering 105°. Zito orders the
area cleared of all nonessential personnel for safety reasons.
After a morning of running the beats on a trail the cameras will
follow, the animal wrangler positions two cages containing the
spotted scavengers. Wheighing approximately 150 pounds, they
are the size of huge German Shepherds. "Their jaws are magnificent!"
Lundgren confirms." They can tear any animal to shreds,
and crush elephant bones to splinters!"
The hyenas are to pursue and attack the actor during his desert
escape, to be driven off by a knot of nearby Bushmen. Lundgren
takes his position as the director calls "Action!"
The cages are opened, the animals bolt forward and Lundgren begins
a running stagger along the trail. The hyenas have been trained
well, so well they pass him along the way and wait patiently
at the path's end until he arrives. Zito suggests Lundgren speed
up the stagger so the actor, animals and Bushmen hit their marks
on cue. The shot is restaged with the same results. Again, the
carnivores are caged. "Now we know managing hyenas is easier
than actors,' Zito laughs. "Hyenas will always go from point
A to point B, but who knows where an actor will en up?"
Determined to make the sequence work, Lundgren finally beats
the dogs to their destination, but their demeanor appears more
playful than perilous. During the next take, the actor attempts
to save the scene bby provoking the hyenas, kicking and lashing
out at them. Lundgren's strategy works perfectly-one of the beasts
takes a chunk out of his leg!
"That wasn't very nice," he grumbles, on his way to
receive a tetanus shot. In addition to the scorching sand burning
their feet, the increasing heat makes the animals more irritable
with every take. Close-ups ofthe snarling beats require little
prompting. Filmmakers' tempers have soared to match the temperature.
The animals have become extremely uncooperative. Apparently disappointed
by the star's untimely retreat, a hyena decides to taste a technician,
proving you can take the dog out of the wild, but not the wild
out of the dog. The cameraman finishes the day in true showbiz
tradition before limping back for medical attention.
Although the unit performs valiantly to attain dramatic coverage,
the segment is ultimately chopped from the final print.
Lundgren relaxes in his hair-conditioned trailer, rehearsing
his lines and chatting with his companion, Paula Barbeiri. Although
the 29-year-old actor speaks six languages, he has been tutored
in both Russian and African dialects for the picture. The oldest
of four tall children, he jokes about his family having their
own basketball team. "My mom's not very big, but my dad's
about 6'4'' , and my 23-year old brother is 6'7''. "
Ironically, the Swedish-born Lundgren was a short, thin youngster
engrossed in books and music. "When the kids at school chose
teams, I was always the last one picked-it still hurts a little."
At 15, and 5'8'', however, his hormones shifted into high, which
had most of his classmates seriously looking up to him. Then,
wanting to improve his tall, lanky frame, Lundgren decided to
pursue bodybuilding and athletics. "I wanted to look good,
so I started lifting weights,' he grins. "I also began taking
karate, but that was really to impress girls."
While studying chemical engineering at the Royal Institute of
Technology in Stockholm, Lundgren attained a second-degree black
belt, bacoming captain of the Swedish Full-Contact Karate Team.
He won the European Heavyweight Full-Contact Karate Championship
in 1980 and 1981, and followed with the Australian heavyweight
division title in 1982, while attending the University of Sidney.
Receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to continue his studies at
the Massachsetts Institute of Technology, Lundgren packed his
bags and headed for Boston, but the seeds of doubt had takent
root. "For eight years, my goals had been to become a chemical
engineer, but suddenly I realized I didn't want to spend the
next three years or more in a lab."
Encouraged to try his skills at acting, Lundgren moved in with
singer/actress Grace Jones, whom he met during his last year
of college when he slipped backstage to help himself to the buffet
after her concert. Cupid's arrows struck with considerable impact
as the couple began a stormy romance that lasted four years.
Jones helped Lundgren arrange a job as assistant stunt coordinator,
as well as a small part with her in the James Bond film A
View to a Kill-and completely turned around his career plans.
As one of the 8,000 hopefuls auditioning for the part of Ivan
Drago, Stallone's Russian foe in Rocky IV, Lundgren was
initially rejected because of his height. "Being a physical
person, I was often dismissed as a big, dumb jock," Lundgren
shrugs, "but, my persistence eventually paid off."
Refusing to accept the decision, he insistently submitted his
photos directly to Stallone, which resulted in a screen test.
"Acting became a substitute for the competition I experienced
in sports and academics. It challenged my mind, my body and,
for the first time, my emotions. Now, I'm hooked. I like working
on characters-and don't want audiences to buy tickets to watch
Dolph Lundgren; I want them to believe they're watching Nikolai."
Following his success as a product of steroid research, he landed
the lead in the fantasy adventure, Masters of the Universe.
Lundgren fans will find his latest effort a bit more energetic.
"There are a multitude of dangerous stunts in Scorpion,
he says, "and plenty of violent scenes in rough locations,
including one battle scene that has about 35 explosions! The
army guys arereally amazed; they find it baffling that all these
tremendous charges are being set off with people everywhere,
and nobody gets killed!"
British fx specialist John (Full Metal Jacket) Evans heads
the 10-man pyrotechnics crew, whose enthusiasm produced some
of the most spectacular combat footage in years-sometimes, too
spectacular. Often Lundgren would not only find his clothes singed
after a fiery confrontation, he would himself singed! Perhaps
the team's closest brush with tragedy occured during the destruction
of an elevated machine-gun nest in the Russian camp. Charges
set to blow up the base of the tower and cause it to collapse
also destroyed the safety mats during the explosion. The miscalculation
resulted in a broken leg as one of the stuntman soldiers jumped
from the structure to land on the ground instead of the safety
To prepare for the demanding stuntwork, Lundgren follows a rigid
training schedule, eating only food flown to the location, and
working out several times a day on two dozen pieces of apparatus,
in a gym built to his specifications.
"I try to make the action as realistic as possible, but
not unbelievable," says Lundgren, who helped choreograph
many of the fight scenes. "Hand-to-hand combat comes naturally
to me, because I taught it to the Swedish Marine Corps. On film,
though, one has to be more flamboyant than a real fight. Additionally,
I'm working on my speed; that's what I hope will be really impressive
on the screen." During the 18 weeks of filming, the actor
will call on evry ounce of his strength and skill to see him
safely through the spectacular and often life-threatening stunts.
He performs in every hazardous scene-except two!
Lundgren and a dozen stuntmen confer on the upcoming scene, in
which he and his co-stars, Walsh and White, escape prison, commandeer
and race for freedom with Russian soldiers in close pursuit.
"Dolph's a big, unique-looking guy, which makes him hard
to double," Zito states. "Being athletic, he's eager
to do his own stunts, and performs them amazingly well."
The imposing Swede is the perfect lead for a project by Zito,
who, after 20 years in the film business, is the forefront of
action directors. The New York-born moviemaker proved his popularity
with three previous features-Invasion U.S.A., Friday the 13th:
The Final Chapter and Missing in Action. "I love
adventure and fantasy films that take audiences to strange, exotic
places; maybe that's why The Wizard of Oz is my favourite
movie. Of my films, I think Scorpion will be the best,
and a good vehicle for Dolph, too. He'll be the next tough-guy
hero. He's hip, good-looking and tough as hell!"
Lundgren's prowess is fortuitous for several reasons. First,
because of his extraordinary size, it is almost impossible to
find a stuntman to stand in for him. Second, because the man
finally hired for the job was invilved in a freak auto accident
driving onto location soon after production began-and broke his
Scorpion represents Zito's most ambitious movie to date,
although he handles it using techniques similar to his other
pictures, from the storyboarding of key sequences to editing
during the filming process. "And I get the best results
from actors when they feel they're doing what they want to do,"
says the 42-year-old director, "but, they're really doing
what I want them to do!"
The location selected for the spectacular truck chase sequence
has been dubbed the "moonscape" by the filmmakers,
a tribute to the terrain's craterous surface. The unit has assembled
a fleet of vehicles to pursue the actors after their prison escape,
included an armored personnel carrier, three motorcycles, four
tanks, ten trucks, several camera cars and a helicopter that
will also cover the action. Although several roads will be used
during the scene, the primary track utilized is about a half-mile
long. It will be traveled many times during the ten days required
to complete the sequence.
Lundgren crouches in the driver's seat next to his co-stars,
watching the last-minute checks on a battery of explosives which
have been planted along their route. Zito commandeers the main
camera truck which precedes the procession. A second vehicle,
with several low-mounted cameras, provides another angle, while
the whopper offers a bird's-eye view. With all personnel in position,
the chase begins.
Jockeying the military transport truck, Lundgren stomps the pedal
to the floor, jolting along the deeply-scarred road at 40 mph,
with the armed caravan in hot pursuit. Men and machines unload
a barrage of blanks as explosions burst periously near the escaping
quarry. The sounds of shattering gunfire and roaring engines
fill the air as thick dust raised by the entourage hinders the
drivers' vision. The action is restaged several times before
Zito feels he has enough coverage of the scene.
With the door already down off his vehicle, Lundgren prepares
for the risky transfer sequence. Approaching the truck from the
right (European steering on the opposite side), a motorcycle
with a sidecar pulls adjacent to the actor in the truck's cab.
One of the cycle's soldiers reaches across the narrowing space,
attempting to pull Lundgren though the open door. Steering through
the explosive charges, Lundgren manages to ward off the attack-until
Walsh boots his butt out of the cab and into his enemy's arms.
Ridding himself of the Russian, Walsh takes control while Lundgren
engages in abrutal hand-to-hand battle with the cyclists. Using
his exceptional strength, Lundgren throws his opponent from the
sidecar and, attacking the driver, pitches him violently to the
side of the road. Before the cycle can crash, Lundgren must leap
back to the questionable safety of the transport truck and claw
his way to the cab.
The cycle struggle requires numerous takes, some with the machines
under their own power, others with the cycle towed by a camera
truck. Lundgren is to complete the transfer using the latter
method which helps stabilize the constantly-shifting distance
between vehicles. Insisting on performing the stunt himself,
Lundgren balances precariously atop the motorcycle and leaps
into mid-air. Catching hand-hold on the canvas top, he swings
his legs toward a structural rim for a fothold-and misses! The
split-second error in timing is immediately apparent as the actor
desperately clutches at the canvas roof, but continues sliding
down the truck's side.
Unable to help, and hoping the actor can prevent the scene from
turning to tragedy, the filmmakers watch in shock, knowing another
slip could send Lundgren under the truck, crushed by its enormous
wheels. Unmindful of the situation, the vehicle drivers maintain
their speed, while the cameras continue to roll. Lundgren grips
the truck as if his life depends on it, gradually pulling himself
to safety. Quickly, he makes his way back to the cab, and completes
the scene, taking a fake bullet in the arm.
After the procession halts, the crew rushes from their positions,
concerned with the star's safety. Lundgren alights from the truck
ruffled, but not ruined, by the stunt. "I tried to grab
onto the truck with one hand, and jump over as we planned,"
he explains, breathing slitghly heavier than normal, "but
my feet slipped and I missed the railing." The filmmakers
sigh with relief and smile, especially Zito, who kept the cameras
running throughout the action.
"The only thing disappointing about Red Scorpion
is that, after the six-week delay, we've gone two more weeks
over the schedule!" Lundgren says, clearly anxious to return
to the States. Having arrived for filming on September 4, 1987,
he did not begin lensing until last October, continuing until
February of the following year. "Africa's beautiful, and
I love it," he insists, "but after six months, one
starts to long for a real hamburger and MTV-the good things in
The movie army of technicians are ready to retreat from the dark
continent. Even Zito, whose energy levels set the pace throughout
production, is ready for R&R. "There is no more invigorating
experience than filmmaking," he confirms. "You don't
feel the exhaustion until it's over." Throughout the four-and-a-half
month shoot, work weeks have varied from five to seven days;
time off is usually spent sleeping.
Hundreds of extras have been dismissed, truckloads of costumes
returned and the sprawling sets blown to smithereens. Lundgren,
who stayed in character as the indomitable Soviet assassin through
most of the production-both on- and off-camera-surprises the
crew at the wrap party by not only clowning around, but also
getting drunk. The Bushmen gift him with a variety of necklaces,
so that their "magic" will stay with him after he departs.
Producer Abramoff fares less well. Reprinting a story from Namibian
newspapers, The New York Times proclaims, "South Africa
Helps U.S. Filmmakers in Namibia With Troops and Trucks,"
further stating they ignored the boycott espoused by most actors
and production companies, used South African government-furnished
personnel and equipment, and financed the project through South
Africans trying to get their money out of the country.
"It's a complete lie!" Abramoff insists. "We rented
our props from a private company, and have no control over where
they come from. It's likely that South African equipment was
mixed in with what we used-Iknow some of it came from Israel-but
it wasn't something we were overly concerned about, considering
Richard Attenborough used South African equipment for Cry Freedom.
As for the troops, that's a total fabrication!"
"Scorpion was financed by sources from all over the
world, a large part of it from the States. When we lost Swaziland,
we had to mitigate as best we could, and chose Namibia because
it doesn't have Apartheid laws-and is recognized by the United
States as a country separate from South Africa. Apparently, The
Times was looking for a story, and thought this was an interesting
one-but, they never asked for the facts! We don't fee it's wrong
morally, politically or business-wise to film here-and we're
very proud to have provided employment opportunities for the
Warner Bros., however, felt differently, and cancelled the picture's
distribution agreement on the basis of a contractual clause that
forbid the production from involvement with South African-supported
colonies. With no one to release it, the film was again plunged
into seirous jeopardy, which caused Abramoff to redouble his
efforts, ultimately linking with Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment.
"Because we had to increase our budget, Warners had a real
bargain. But, by pulling out, we found another distributor, and
improved our financial deal by 120 percent!"
Lundgren echoes the attitude. "If they planned to shoot
in South Africa, I wouldn't have agreed to the role."
The actor has a full schedule in the year ahead. In addition
to his exercise video, Maximum Potential (which he promoted
during his only week off Scorpion production), he's prepping
for Warrent, in which he plays a plain-clothes detective
after drug dealers in New York. To be produced by his own company,
Red Orm (named after an 11th-Century Viking), the project is
a realistic action thriller which Lundgren has already researched
by travelling with the Manhattan Warrent Squad-bulletproof vest
and all-during their forays from Harlem to the Bowery. He is
also slated for The Punisher, Marvel Comics' blood-letting
vigilante, to begin lensing on a $10 million budget this summer
in Australia, with Sydney substituting for the Big Apple.
Should Nikolai score a boxoffice bullseye with audiences, chances
are good he will return to the screen for another assignment.
Although there is no sequel written yet, the filmmakers agree
that a second picture will take the Russian convert to another
exotic location. Scenes slotted from Scorpion may be included
in the next adventure, such as the Spetznaz training sequence
which was originally planned to film in the snowy shadows of
Moscow. Cut for budget and schedule reasons, it may emerge in
a subsequent production.
While Lundgren feels there is room to develop Nikolai, he anticipates
expanding his range of acting roles. "I'm a pretty romantic
guy," he admits, "and the idea of making a picture
like Romancing the Stone appeals to me as much as tackling an
action comedy. Whenever I undertake a project, I always give
it my best, and, right now, I'm ready for anything!"
As the production disbands, the producers sugget a premiere benefit
for the Bushmen. "They're a wonderful people," Abramoff
states, "but so abused by everyone, blacks and whites alike.
If Mohopstan and some of his tribe will come to the film's opening,
I'm sure we can raise enough money to allow them to live the
way they choose."
Perhaps by Red Scorpion's premiere, the producer will
have also figured out how to fulfill his final obligation to
the tribal chief. After all ha has been through producing the
film, could finding another wife for the 92-year-old leader be