Last Friday, I attended a Dolph Lundgren fan event in Melbourne which I previously reported on for the site.
After being so thoroughly impressed and exhilarated by Dolph’s professionalism and conduct, and because I was so thrilled to meet the big friendly giant, I was hungry for more. Luckily, after Dolph attended Supernova in Brisbane, tonight it was Brisbane’s turn to meet Ivan Drago and behold Rocky IV and Universal Soldier on the big screen, and I managed to get into the screening for another once-in-a-lifetime event that I will cherish for a long time to come.
Due to unforseen circumstances, the Melbourne event was a bit frantic because unexpected events in the city halted the flow of traffic, and Dolph arrived late, which was completely beyond his control. As a result, as wonderful as the event truly was, it was a bit frenzied as everything needed to be done as briskly as possible. Thankfully, for the Brisbane event, things were a bit more chilled and everything ran very smoothly. After waiting in the lounge of this very classy “Cinebar” for a little while, everyone was able to file through into the screening room where Dolph was on hand for photos and a brief meet & greet. I’ll admit I was completely fucking anxious to meet Dolph the first time, and probably came off a bit strangely, but I was more calm and controlled this time around, though my inner fanboy was still squealing. Last week I wore my Ivan Drago “I Must Break You” t-shirt, which Dolph noticed and very much liked. I shook things up a bit by wearing another t-shirt. Which did I wear? Well, dear readers, this one!
Dolph did notice, of course, and said “I think I should be wearing one of those.” Considering that Grace Jones reportedly said that Dolph is stunningly well-endowed, and of course Brandon Lee famously told the big man that he has “the biggest dick I’ve ever seen on a man” in the classic buddy actioner Showdown in Little Tokyo, I’d say Dolph has earned the right to wear one of these. Hell, I’d pay for it myself and give it to him as a gift.
We were informed that Dolph was feeling a bit under the weather this evening, but he’s a trooper. And goodness, is he a trooper. He still had plenty of humour about him, and faced the cameras with a big smile on his face. When one extremely tall man, taller than Mr. Lundgren, entered for a photo, Dolph simply said “Jesus, now I know how Sly felt.”
Everyone got a photo and the chance to meet Dolph, after which we got up a few at a time to get our autographs and the chance to chat to the humble giant a bit further. For this go-round, I decided to bring my Expendables trilogy Blu-ray set — I asked Dolph to write “Bring it, Happy Feet!” He was extremely amused by the request, and happily complied. I also showed Dolph my Expendables dog tag bottle opener, which fascinated him. It has now been touched by Dolph, so it is now holy. The event organiser, Dan Deltondo, pointed out that I had flown interstate for the day to attend the Melbourne event, and I was coming on Sunday to the Gold Coast Film Festival for the world premiere of Skin Trade. Dolph was very gracious. These kind of opportunities are bloody rare, so I embraced everything that I could.
The Q&A was something very special. We were given some invaluable insights and anecdotes, and, remarkably, none of the questions tonight resembled anything asked in Melbourne. One person pointed out that Sly Stallone is reprising his Rocky Balboa role in Creed, and asked if we may ever see Ivan Drago return. Dolph simply replied “God, I hope not.” He went on to explain that he believes Drago was probably sent to Siberia and wound up becoming an alcoholic. Another attendee asked the Dolphster about his favourite on-screen fights. Dolph revealed that preparing for Rocky IV took five months, with every day involving weights in the morning, before boxing and rehearsals in the afternoon. And to ensure that he was as lean as possible for filming, he had to dehydrate himself for a few days, drinking only coffee. Jesus, that’s showbiz in the ’80s for ya. And, interestingly, the final boxing match was the first thing filmed for Rocky IV. “In the movie, we’re both in our best shape at the end for the final fight,” he said, “but in reality, we’re both in our best shape at the start of the shoot.” Dolph also said he was proud of the Jet Li throwdown in the first Expendables, even though stunt doubles were used at various points. Another fight Dolph mentioned is one involving Tony Jaa in Skin Trade which took five nights to shoot. Sounds very nice. I can’t wait to see that one on Sunday!
When asked which movie he feels features his best physique, Dolph said either Rocky IV or Masters of the Universe. Dolph also spoke of Cannon Films’ bid to turn Dolph into the next big action superstar in the late 1980s, “bigger than Chuck Norris!”, but unfortunately the company went bankrupt before these grandiose plans were brought to fruition. Another amusing anecdote covered the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, when Dolph and Van Damme got into a bit of a scuffle. It was staged of course, with Van Damme being the one who came up with the idea.
Tell you what, the chance to see a double feature of Rocky IV and Universal Soldier was absolutely awesome. Rocky IV was always a movie I had wanted to see in a cinema, and now I’ve seen it twice in as many weeks. Even with the ending a foregone conclusion, it’s still thrilling to see the climactic showdown. You get really invested in it. The whole enterprise is cheesy as all hell, but dear lord it works. And how about the none-too-subtle political commentary of the entire thing? Fuck’s sake, it opens with an American glove and a Russian glove being launched at one another. Awesome. I love it. And Universal Soldier is a real spectacle; a fast-paced, red meat action extravaganza that’s really amplified with a cinema screen and surround sound. Pure GOLD!
It’s hard to imagine any actors being as gracious or as humble as Dolph Lundgren. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Australia, it cost upwards of $1500 to get into his seminar and get a guaranteed photograph with the Austrian Oak. When Stallone did his “Evening with Sylvester Stallone,” a VIP ticket cost you $2500, and most people who paid the cash only got bathroom selfies with him. At another event, I believe it cost $1500 for a photo with Sly. But entry to Dolph’s event cost a mere $250, which is bloody good value. It’s great to know that, even though Dolph is a fairly big name, he’s not being blinded by his ego. Yeah, he might not be seeing fuckloads of green by coming to these events, but goddammit he’s maintaining his fans and maybe even making new ones by doing this. It also brings up the question on everyone’s lips: If fan events like this are such a big hit, what can this mean? Obviously the Australian market is bigger than many have realised — perhaps the organisers of Dolph’s Down Under tour, Red 8 Agency, can bring in more names? Jean-Claude Van Damme is the next cab off the rank, with an Aussie tour locked in for sometime this year. Who knows who else we’ll see. Lord Mel Gibson maybe?
If you’re in Australia and these types of events interest you, be sure to like the Red 8 Agency Facebook page. On top of celebrity appearances, they also do classic action movie screenings that the Manly Movie community love. And if you’re in Queensland, you can maybe still get into Supernova this weekend, and get into the Skin Trade premiere. Tickets are $15 for Skin Trade. That’s peanuts for a premiere. Some cinemas charge up to $20 a ticket for a regular screening, let alone a premiere with celebs like Dolph knocking about.
Thank you, Dolph.