Dolph Lundgren Talks Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, available on Blu-ray and DVD now!
John (Scott Adkins) wakes up from a coma to discover his wife and daughter were slaughtered in a brutal home invasion. Haunted by images of the attack, he vows to kill the man responsible, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme). While John tries to piece his reality back together, things get more complicated when he is pursued by a relentless UniSol (Andrei Arlovski). As John gets closer to Deveraux and the rouge army of genetically enhanced warriors led by back-from-the-dead leader Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), John discovers more about himself and begins to call into question everything he believed to be true.
We caught up with Dolph Lundgren to chat about the Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning Blu-ray release, which is in stores now. Here is our conversation.
Were you surprised to see this movie make quite a few end of the year top ten lists?
Dolph Lundgren: A little bit, you know. I was. I like it. But...You never know how people are going to react to things. Its quite violent. But it does have a certain vibe. An atmosphere that is unusual. It stands on its own. It doesn't care what you think as an audience, it just garbs you and takes you for a ride. Which is unusual nowadays, when things are always so calculated. A lot of movies are trying to please the audience in every scene. This one was good because it was unorthodox. I didn't expect that, but John Hyams did a great job, really.
This is the forth film in the series, right?
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah...I think so...
When you have the fourth film in a series that spans nearly twenty years, do you feel that you have more freedom to do something that is a little bit off the wall and not the usual sequel people might expect?
Dolph Lundgren: You do. You're not quite as concerned, because you know it already has a certain audience. It all comes down to the script, and the director. This particular film? I didn't want to do it. Initially. The script was different. I didn't like it. It was too much like the other ones. Then John Hyams took charge. He rewrote the script, and he wanted to make it like a horror thriller. My own character became more of an interesting guy. He is a bit unpredictable, but we were able to add more colors. He was different than the characters you usually see in these types of movies. It was cool. You can sink your teeth into it a little bit. I thought the drama was as interesting as the action. So, that's why I decided to do it.
Back in 2009, when Regeneration came out...Again, you said that you weren't comfortable coming back for that sequel, either. Do you think there was more enthusiasm here, for this sequel, after two Expendables movies had come out, and the audience seemed to be hungry to see you guys again? I mean, this one got a theatrical release, the last one didn't...
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, I think you are right to some extent. We shot Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning before we shot The Expendables 2. But I did have The Expendables, so there was a little more enthusiasm from the audience. With Universal Soldier: Regeneration, it was a little more like the other two movies. It was a military operation. It was in that mode. The good guys trying to capture the bad guys. But this one is a little more oblique. You are never sure who is who. Who is a good guy? You're never sure if there are any at all. That was interesting. But yeah, you are right...I knew that playing someone who is in the gray zone works for me. Someone that is charming and interesting, but still...He is deadly at the same time. That worked in The Expendables 1. So I tried to do a similar thing here.
When the third movie came out, the big selling point was this fight between you and Jean-Claude Van Damme. How did you take that same idea, and change it, and make it something new for this fourth movie...So that the idea was still exciting to fans who might think they'd already seen the fireworks?
Dolph Lundgren: John Hyams didn't let us fight again. Because you've seen that now. It gets old. We've seen it already. Here, because we are the same size...That changes the dynamics a little bit. So, we have Scott Adkins, he's a younger guy. He's a stronger guy. I thought it would be way more interesting for both of us to fight him. Rather than separate fights.
This is a brutal, crazy movie. I think that is what is capturing people's attention. How did you guys go about choreographing this, and working through some of the bigger fight sequences to find those "Oh, shit!" moments that we haven't seen in a film before?
Dolph Lundgren: Well, look. There are two aspects. The tone of the violence, which was set by John Hyams. I think he made the right choice. He didn't pull back at all. You think of those superhero movies, and they are geared more towards a teenage audience...You can't have any blood. You can't have people getting their head blown off, even if there are thousands of bullets flying at everybody. He went for a more realistic approach, where it is deadly. It is gruesome when people get killed. Another part of it was, the choreography and the fights were...The fight coordinator practiced with us quite a bit, for these fights to be entertaining and exciting at the same time...I also think people are sanitized to these more generic fights. On the same token, you have MMA, where there is a big fight every weekend. These guys are pounding on each other, and there is blood everywhere. Kids see it, and they know what a kick can do to somebody's face. We had an appetite for more realism. There is a movie called The Raid: Redemption. It is an Indonesian movie. It was a small movie, and it went over quite big. I think there is a shift. We worked hard at it, and it was fun. It was really more realistic and brutal. I think it was cool.
There for a minute, action movies got kind of stagnant. The group of guys you run with worked really hard to reinvent that for audiences. To bring the action movie back, and make it exciting and new for fans who thought they'd seen it all...
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, there is a bit of a split. You have Marvel's The Avengers, those types of movies, which are great...But then you have another school of thought. Like with Sylvester Stallone, he wants to do things his own way. The Expendables, we will go a more brutal way, because that's what he knows, and what he likes, and what he wants. John Hyams is even more so. And you have to think about the battles with the producers in the studio. I think now that people appreciate this picture, pictures like this...They will have more destruction in the future...Probably.
You have a movie coming up called Without You I'm Nothing. That's a little bit different than what we're used to seeing...
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, that is quite different. I am looking for a few other things. I want to show some different colors. To do movies where you blow everyone away, and you walk around with a big machine gun...Its cool, but once you do The Expendables, you can't get much bigger than that on the action front. I'm looking for various other films, were I can fit in, but it's a different genre, and a different tone. This one is written by a girl that is an actress, and she did a lot of research on strippers. She wrote a film that is about your classic American dream girl who comes to Los Angeles, to make it as a stripper...She makes it through the ups and the downs, and the bad stuff...But it is interesting. It opens up this world I knew nothing about. Its one thing watching somebody on the pole, or whatever, but when you find out how they live their life, that is quite different. It was quite a good, dramatic, sensitive script. She came to me. She wrote a part for me in it. I ended up being a partner on the film, because she had some problems getting it made. I will probably produce it, which is cool. Because its different. Its very different from Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.
I've gone back and watched Command Performance a couple of times since it came out, and I think that is such a cool movie. Do you have plans to go back in the director's chair anytime in the near future? Or are you going to continue to focus on acting?
Dolph Lundgren: Thanks for that. I have a couple of things that I want to direct. But once you start directing, and starring, you suddenly realize that you also need to produce. Because, otherwise, you can end up in a big fight with the producers...And you've invested so much time and energy and emotion in something. You should just take the whole thing and run the show. I have a couple of things I'd like to direct. But I will probably do something that is small. Something that isn't action. It might be historical. Something that I am interested in, that I have more knowledge about. Something more personal. I am looking for something like that. In the interim, I will probably produce a few things, to learn about producing.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning Blu-ray is in stores now!