"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Vern makes DIRECT CONTACT with Dolph Lundgren!

tn_directcontactDIRECT CONTACT is the new Dolph Lundgren DTV movie directed by Danny Lerner (SHARKS IN VENICE) and written by Les Weldon (RAGING SHARKS). It comes out in the US on Tuesday and has already been released in Thailand, Kuwait, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.When we first meet Dolph as Mike Riggins, life is not the best. #1, he lives in a Balkan prison. #2, he owes a bunch of gangsters money, and some guy spits in his food, so he has to fight everybody and stab a dude in the eyeball. #3, the screws come in and club him like a baby seal. #4, he gets put in solitary. #5, when he pukes up blood a rat comes over and starts eating it.

On the other hand, it’s kind of a cute rat eating the blood he puked up. Not RATATOUILLE cute, but he doesn’t look like he has fleas. Well-groomed. So it could be worse.

mp_directcontactRiggins was an ex special forces soldier busted for weapons smuggling. (We later learn that he was smuggling weapons out, to stop the violence.) But a mysterious CIA type gets him out and offers him enough money to pay off his debts if he’ll rescue some kidnapped girl. So he goes for it.

He doesn’t break out the strawberries and cream right away though. He gets beat up again. He gets tossed out of a car. When he finds the girl she knees him in the balls. He throws her in the trunk and when he takes her out he learns that she was there willingly, she hadn’t been kidnapped, not until he came along and threw her in his trunk.

So he brings the girl around trying to figure out why they wanted her so bad, who to trust and how to get his money without throwing her to the wolves. Along the way of course there are some huge explosions, some cars flipping through the air (both with and without flames), a motorcycle chase, etc. He does some karate, some shooting, lucks out and gets missed by snipers. There’s a respectable amount of violence. Most of it’s not that memorable except the guy who set him up, who goes out like one of Gallagher’s watermelons.

This is completely competent DTV action with a fairly involving (if generic) plot and the usual solid performance by Dolph as a gruff but sweet-hearted tough guy. But in DTV it’s nice to have at least a couple unintentional laughs, so I was happy for the scene that in Seagalogy I’d call the “Just How Badass Is He?” scene. This is the moment where a bad guy looks at the hero’s file and freaks out at how badass he is, listing his areas of expert training, medals, wars he was in, etc. For example, in UNDER SIEGE they say, “Expert in martial arts, explosives, weapons and tactics. Silver Star. Navy Cross. Purple Heart with cluster. Security clearance revoked after Panama.”

But for Riggins all they got is “Ex marine corps, weapons transporter, honorable discharge, prison time, solitary. Guy’s a god damn out of control mercenary! This is worse than we thought!”

Like he’s about to shit his pants because the guy was in both the marines and prison. Funny scene.

This is definitely a decent and watchable DTV, but I prefer more flair. More rats eating bloody puke, more mid-air body explosions. The only other thing that seemed very unique to me is an irony in the story involving Helsinki Syndrome. In the beginning the CIA prick warns that the girl may have developed feelings for her kidnappers, and that’s a lie because she hasn’t really been kidnapped. But then Riggins accidentally kidnaps her himself, and sure enough she develops feelings for her kidnapper. And yes, they consummate their kidnapper-kidnapee relationship using adult situations.

But I don’t know, Dolph is handsome enough that I can buy it when he has relations with much younger women. If there are any straight women or gay men in the talkback maybe they can help me out. What do you think: Helsinki, or pure Dolph magic?

Dolph seems determined to replace Seagal as the most prolific DTV star. This year he already released an older (and terrible) one called RETROGRADE, and he still has three more on deck: COMMAND PERFORMANCE, ICARUS (both directed by him) and a UNIVERSAL SOLDIER sequel. Then of course next year he has THE EXPENDABLES. More than any of the other ’80s action stars I think Dolph deserves a comeback. He’s worked hard on the fringes while maintaining dignity, and he looks more badass now than he did in his so-called prime.

I hope THE EXPENDABLES will knock down some doors for him. Shit man, Stallone should make IVAN DRAGO to go alongside ROCKY BALBOA. Somebody should at least give him some supporting roles in some real theatrical movies and see if he knocks ’em on their asses. I bet he would, but oh well. If that never happens at least he has a good record of mostly watchable DTV and seems to be having fun as a director. Long live Dolph, and may a rat never eat his bloody puke.

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/41247

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 2:49 pm and is filed under Action, AICN, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

29 Responses to “Vern makes DIRECT CONTACT with Dolph Lundgren!”

  1. Vern – For years, I use to dismiss Lundgren, if because I saw him as only the mindless robot in ROCKY IV, and that UNIVERSAL SOLDIER didn’t help that perception.

    But based off your pimping, I saw I COME IN PEACE and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, and I gotta admit, I enjoyed the absolute shit out of them. Yes Dolph at times still comes off as a jock (but how many 80s action heroes didn’t?) but he does carry a particular certain charm that I can’t describe or explain.

    And whatever one thinks of the Dolph, you have to be impressed with him becoming the Clint Eastwood of the DTV World: Prolific DTV filmographic so far of his own shit, a reason why it took so many years/decades for people to respect Eastwood as a director (and this continued even after UNFORGIVEN. That shit didn’t end until I guess MYSTIC RIVER.)

    So yes Vern, I whole-heartedly endorse your campaign to revive the Dolph’s career outside of the DTV fringes, for a solid comeback.

  2. Wait, are you saying you didn’t enjoy Dolph’s Oscar worthy portrayal of Ivan fucking Drago? Seriously, the idea of outdoing Mr. T as the cartoon villian in a Rocky movie is a challenge almost any actor would quake and back away from. But Dolph took the chance and carved out a place in the pantheon for himself. The pantheon of what, I’m not sure, but he’s in there, no question.

  3. This might blow a hole in your pocket, but I didn’t like ROCKY IV. Shit I didn’t care much for any of the ROCKY sequels…save for ROCKY BALBOA, probably the least cartoonish and most mature (to a point) of any of the ROCKY follow-ups.

    Was Lundgren good as a steroid monster? Sure. Is it “I will break you” or “I will destroy you”? Yeah that tells you how much I cared for ROCKY IV. Nobody can defend that idiotic ending with the Soviet government applauding Stallone.

    In fact I have this idea that II through V, Stallone progressively put less and less thought into his ideas, and basically coasted on the “Rocky Formula.” I mean remember ROCKY V? You have good stuff with a talented kid who effectively becomes the Anti-Rocky (money/fame/women over decent humanity) and the Don King-esque boxing promoter. Then Stallone had to go that ridiculous route of ole Rock losing all his shit, even thougn he sure made alot of it back by ROCKY BALBOA. Was that shit needed?

    Now I know alot of folks, even some of my friends, have a special fondness for all things ROCKY. But to me there is only the great touching ROCKY, and its only “true” sequel, RB. Kinda like how I tend if possible to ignore DIE HARD 2 in that franchise, but why is another story for another time, and I’m sure alot of folks will piss vinegar on that concept.

  4. Dude I agree with you, the sequels are not that great, other then Rocky Balboa which toned down all the bullshit that had clogged up the other films and told a small, simple, beautiful character piece, in the vein of the first, still great movie. The other flicks are not what I would call good, I would call them AWESOME. Mr. T and Lundgren are cartoon supervillians trying to bring down the saintly Italian Stallion. Those movies are more cartoony then the Rambo cartoon they had for a while. And part 5 is shit no matter how it’s sliced. So I get it man, not digging Rocky, but I find those movies incredibly rewatchable and ferociously entertaining.

    By the way, it’s “I must break you.”

  5. Thanks for the quote correction. I must admit, I did like that one moment in ROCKY IV when Burt Young yells at the press conference about Soviets forcing their citizens to live there by machine gun. Good if poignant propganda.

    And yeah I understand why you enjoy ROCKY 3 and 4. They are cartoonish actioneers, in a decade that celebrated them (though one could argue that is still the case. Just look at Bay’s work) but they’re just not my cup of tea I guess.

    Speaking of ROCKY 3, imagine if Stallone had been able to use “Another One Bites the Dust” instead of “Eye of the Tiger”? That whole beach running sequence, those guys in their short shorts, was already gayrific. Now imagine that amped up with Freddie Queen Mercury crooning over that? I think COMMANDO* would have some real serious competition there.

    *=I mean that was the one where the villain was effectively Mercury on steroids.

  6. I will never watch Rocky 3 again without thinking of that. Fuck you.

  7. As a further PS let me say that while Rocky 4’s ending is complete horseshit you have to admire the out and out ballsiness of him ending it that way. Stallone’s Americafuckyeah-ness is so completely heartfelt and pure in it’s big muscled unsubtle way I find it impossible not to get a kick out of it. He clearly means and believes every word he says and there’s something to be commended in that. I will happily concede that Rocky Balboa is the lone true sequel and that it and the original classic together form a single great story that you could probably watch back to back and not miss a beat. The others are distractions, no two ways about it, but again, they are fucking AWESOME distractions that I love to watch.
    By the way, there is nothing gay about two grown men in extremely tight shirts and small shorts grappling with each other in slow motion on a beach. All that moment constitutes is that their unwavering masculinity transcends all concepts of bromance and sexuallity we mere non-Stallone and Weathers mortals can concieve.

  8. I wouldn’t call ROCKY IV’s ending “ballsiness” as much as “egotripping.” That was when Sly was King of the World, and effectively got away with whatever he wanted, and it shows.

    But Brendan, I respect your opinion. I understand, I get it. This isn’t AICN or CHUD where nerds bitch at each other over their petty Geek Theology or shit on each other because someone doesn’t share their precious little opinion.

    We’re above that nonsense.

  9. Y’know I am really digging that about this sight. I think it’s awesome that Vern has opened this place up to his readers and the response has been film lovers engaging in conversations about subjects they love and find interest in, and not self-serving fanwank that clouds up otherwise great places like AICN.

    In kind I totally respect what your getting at with your points, and I’m certainly not saying your wrong, only that what rubs you the wrong way with that ending, I find hilarious and great fun. Shit man, I love Cobra for the same kind of reasons. It really was Stallone just jerking himself about his politics and his physique, but doing it with such unironic devotion to both its fascinating.

    So in closing, let’s keep the good vibes going on this site, if only here.

  10. My man, this is the Love Boat. Keep the good times coming!

    Oh COBRA….man, the idea that basically was what Stallone wanted his BEVERLY HILLS COP to be is just chilling….and funny. I mean even Dirty Harry himself would call COBRA silly.

    Then again, I’ve never understood anarchy political ideology. Can such people organize in the first place?

  11. What?! You guys think ‘Cobra” & the ‘Rocky’ sequels are silly?! Well you my former friends are both of lower intelligence AND homosexuals!!11

    just kidding.

    I dig me some cheesy 80s Stalone. It’s a hell of alot better than cheesy 90s Stalone that’s for sure.

    I’m one of the two people on Earth that likes the film adaptation of ‘Oscar’ (even Stalone has kind of disowned that one with the comment “I just can’t do comedy.”) Now where did he go wrong with ‘Driven’?

    The only Lundgren I have seen are ‘View To A Kill’ (doesn’t count), ‘Rocky IV’, ‘The Punisher’, ‘Universal Soldier’, and ‘Blackjack’. I keep meaning to check out ‘Red Scorpion’ since it’s one I always see in the video store. Don’t recall hearing anything on it good or bad on that one though.

    -damn I’m just spamming up the boards today adding jack shit to the discussion

  12. geoffreyjar – Don’t beat yourself up. You don’t spam up the site at all, and I like to hear from you dude.

    As for Dolph, try I COME IN PEACE and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, both entertaining trash cinema worthy of a friday night with greasy pizza and cheap beer. SHOWDOWN is on DVD in R1, but not I COME IN PEACE (yet). Dammit!

    And yeah Sly had a bad time in the 1990s, though I remember CLIFFHANGER as being cheesy entertaining watchable, and well he had a great dramatic turn in COPLAND. As for OSCAR, I never saw it, no urge really since I barely survived STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT.

    But Siskel and Ebert back in the day did give OSCAR thumbs up. Yeah fuck you Internet.

  13. Oh and I forgot DEMOLITION MAN of course. What do the seashells work exactly?

    But man, I hated JUDGE DREDD. Kickass iconic fascist cop comic book legend…shitty pussy movie. Go figure. I mean how the fuck did they fuck that up?

  14. Long live the dolph,

    I come in peace (or Dark Angel as its known in the backwoods of Scotland) is classic Dolph as well as 80’s action.

    I am glad he is making a comeback (after announcing his retirement a few years ago), after all he still has to atone for Johnny Mnemonic.

  15. I don’t like “Johnny Mnemonic” but I thought Dolph was very funny in it. I also love the bit at the end where Ice T says “pick that up”, that’s a vague description but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

    I believe Stallone wrote “Rocky IV” while he was filming “Rambo: First Blood Part II”. At that point his last film was “Rhinestone”, which wasn’t a success, so at that point in time he wasn’t really “king of the world”. So when he filmed it it probably counted as “egotripping”, but when he wrote it it was “ballsiness”. Unless he rewrote the ending after “Rambo” was a massive hit, I don’t know.

    I’ve got kind of a soft spot for “Judge Dredd” even though I can clearly see it’s not very good. I’ve always thought “Demolition Man” actually makes a better Dredd movie than the movie he eneded up making under that name, though I say that as someone who is no expert on the comic book (or any kind of comic book for that matter).

  16. Re: Rocky Balboa being the only true sequel

    Plotwise, RB wouldn’t make any sense without at least Rocky 2 because that was the one where he became the champ. If it weren’t for that one, he’d just be the guy who fought Apollo Creed that one time. Rocky 2 is actually my least favorite of the series (not counting V, which never happened, doesn’t exist I’M NOT LISTENING TO YOU) because it kinds of splits the difference between the earnest drama of Rocky and the outrageous cartoonery of III and IV, and the two approaches kind of cancel each other out. That said, fucking great final fight, so I guess maybe I just love Rocky and that’s all there is to it. (Part V can still eat a dick, though. If it existed. Which it doesn’t.)

  17. Over the Top = godly cheesy Stalone
    Driven = awful cheesy Stalone

    Rocky sequels I’m fond of but different reasons than I like the first and last one of coarse. Kind of like how I like all Godzilla movies for a different reason I like the original Japanese version. Sure the sequels kind of shit all over what the original was doing but dagnabbit, they’re fun.

    to Mr. Majestyk:
    Rocky V happened. Oh yes it happened. It happened all night long! Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away.

    to RRA:
    As for Judge Dredd, I have a weakness for that one as well. Damn that thing sucked but I sure enjoyed it. Besides we already have an awesome movie based on the comic, it’s called ‘Robocop’ and it’s better than any Dredd movie could hope to be.

    I adore ‘Demolition Man’. Can you believe that Simon Phoenix was originally written for Jackie Chan? I can only imagine how that would have been if he accepted.

  18. When I say ‘true sequel’ I’m refering to the fact that RB is a completely down to earth character drama about a boxer struggling with himself, while 3 and 4 are exaggerated cartoons about a superhero fighting evil dudes while wearing the American flag as pants. 2 sort of tries to do both but as Majestyk says they cancel each other out and what your left with isn’t all that impressive. Yes, 5 happened but what do you say we all move on with our lives in regards to that pile of shit.

  19. Brendan, I see where you’re coming from, but I think watching Rocky go through these insane, over-the-top adventures in fame and fortune and genetically modified Cossack warriors makes his return to his humble roots all the more moving. You can’t have a satisfying homecoming without going on an epic journey first.

    Rocky V…that’s the one where he fought lizard aliens disguised as humans, right? I don’t remember so good. I think I might have been punching myself in the face at the time.

  20. Nope he did not fight lizard men from mars…

    but that would have made Rocky V even better!
    -that is to say it would have made it good

  21. Supposedly according to the legend, after ROCKY IV was when Hollywood joked that the only legitimate threat for Stallone in a 5th ROCKY would have to be a boxing match with an Alien.

    Thus some brothers/scriptwriters got hot for the idea of a badass muscle man in a fight for his life with an alien…and thus PREDATOR was born.

    So yeah, thanks Sly for that. I consider ROCKY V for PREDATOR (better than any of the ROCKY sequels) a more than adequete trade.

  22. Well I’m going to wade in and defend Rocky 2. Mainly because it’s on VS right now – and even though I know every line – there’s no way I’m changing the channel.

    It’s not the best of the series (first one is obviously), but I think it’s my fave precisely because it incorporates both the soapy, melodramatic and cartoonish elements of the sequels along with the legitimately dramatic and worthy aspects of the original. I would also argue it has the best training sequence (2 if you include the awesome run with the kids) and best fight. And that is very important.

    I also think it is a true sequel – not just a do over – in the sense that Rocky is the story of a underdog hero who fights with his heart more than skill – and through sheer grit is able to go the distance with a storied champion – whereas in Rocky 2 he’s lost his heart. His fighting spirit is gone. He takes the rematch purely for money. He thinks Adrian isn’t behind him. And then he literally loses his heart when Adrian is on death’s door.

    So when he finally gets his shit together and trains his ass off you get the huge rush of satisfaction and excitement – because of his previous procrastination. But it is still his heart that wins the fight. When he and Apollo are climbing the ropes after the double knockdown (which is a bit silly, but awesome) – Apollo quits, Rocky can not, will not.

    Maybe it moves me more because I am something of a procrastinator – and I know it’s manipulative – but it’s also fucking awesome.

    Then 3 and 4 become more and more formulaic (4 is almost like a perfect formula movie) – and while they are really good fun – They don’t have the same sense of theme and emotion as 1,2 and Balboa.

    It’s goofy, but the bit where Adrian says “win” and and Mickey chimes in with “What in the hell are we waiting for?” and we boom into the music and the training – well it gives me chills everytime.

    Sorry for the digression Vern et al.

    Back to Dolph:

    I always had a real soft spot for Red Scorpion. It’s a strange action movie, especially for the time it was made – but there is some good action and lots of unusual elements – I always find myself watching it through when it’s on.

  23. As a side note, isn’t that syndrome called the Stockholm Syndrome, not Helsinki?

  24. Vern was making a Die Hard joke with that line. The newscasters interview some blowhard who says that the hostages should be going through the first stage of “Helsinki Syndrome.” I don’t know why they felt the need to change the name of the syndrome, except that maybe they wanted to make fun of the idea (they cut to a shot of the terrorists dragging away Ellis’ corpse to show how little they have actually bonded with their hostages) and Helsinki is arguably a funnier word than Stockholm.

  25. I might’ve got that from Die Hard subconsciously. I really didn’t mean to write the wrong thing. But I looked it up and apparently Helsinki Syndrome is a common misnomer for Stockholm Syndrome. That might be why it’s in Die Hard too. Anyway, Dolph was born in Stockholm so maybe for him it’s actually Helsinki Syndrome.

  26. As in Helsinki, Sweden.

  27. I just saw this the other day and nearly shit my pants when the first name in the credits after Dolph’s was Michael Pare’!

    I can’t even put into words how pleasant of a surprise that was.

    As for the Helsinki/Stockholm thing, I can’t remember what it’s called but there’s a term that is basically the opposite of Stockholm syndrome. I think it’s when the captor gains sympathy towards his/her hostages. I’d have to look it up again, but that might be what the Helsinki thing is. Or maybe it’s something completely different like Uzbekistan syndrome.

    I do know that the M’Naughton rule is what is used to determine whether or not someone can be deemed innocent by reason of insanity. Someone should make a move about that. Maybe get Dolph Lundgren to play Daniel M’Naughton.

  28. I was wrong. The opposite of Stockholm syndrome is Lima syndrome.

  29. Lundgren is fantastic. Ivan Drago, Andrew Scott (Universal Soldier), Jack Devlin (Blackjack). The list of great roles goes on and on.

    Blackjack is a really underrated, relatively unknown flick. John Woo, right after Face/Off and right Before MI2. Dolph plays a US Marshal with a phobia of the color white. There is a climactic fight scene that takes place in a milk factory. See Vern’s review for a much better description.

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