Considering what happened after the last time they appeared on screen together it’s a wonder Sylvester Stallone would consider working with Dolph Lundgren again. While shooting the boxing scenes for Rocky IV, the movie that made the 6′ 5″ Lundgren a household name, the Swedish actor hit Stallone so hard the Italian Stallion’s heart slammed up against his breastbone and began to swell, limiting the oxygen flow throughout his body.
An eight day stay in intensive care cured the problem, but may also explain why Stallone waited twenty-five years to invite Dolph back into the ring. The pair, along with action movie legends Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham (and that’s just the Ss!), star in The Expendables, an all star all action movie opening on August 13.
When asked why he’s reteamed with Stallone after so many years Lundgren says, “Well, first of all Mr. Sly Stallone. Anything he writes and directs is something I’d be interested in doing.”
He was cautious, however, of keeping up with some of the younger members of the cast. “All my roles are tough physically, but this one was different because I knew I was up against people like [former NFL footballer] Terry Crews and [wrestler] Stone Cold Steve Austin. Not small guys and pretty rough and developed so I thought I gotta do more weights. So I did a lot of weights for my upper body to get a little beefier. My arms were still smaller than Terry Crews, but I think I was somewhere up there.
“Physically, I do a lot of martial arts fighting, and that is pretty much what I did for this film although I can pretty much handle the fighting at any time.”
Lundgren has been practicing Kyokushinkai Karate (a Japanese style of martial arts) since age fourteen, has a third degree black belt and next year, at age 54, plans on getting his fourth degree and will do a demonstration at the world championships in Tokyo.
As a child he says the study of karate helped him to develop self confidence, discipline and a sense of who he was. Today he finds the practice aids him in keeping grounded and is “an antidote to Hollywood and the trappings of that lifestyle. It takes discipline, etiquette and you have to have a certain outlook on life that is simple and elegant. It’s not a self centered or egocentric type of sport.”
Lundgren still works out four or five days a week and has no plans to slow down on his work schedule of pumping out one or two action films a year. “It’s a way of making a living for me because people want to see me do it,” he says. “In an action movie you can have fun and be a kid and play with guns and cars… and a few beautiful women if you’re lucky. At the same time when you are directing you get an intellectual challenge as well because you are making all the decisions about music and editing. It’s is a great job. It’s hard work but very challenging and very rewarding.”