Sometimes it’s way too easy to stereotype someone by the way they look, and Hollywood is a place where this can happen all too often. When we first saw Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV as Ivan Drago it was kind of easy to look at him as big, blond, strong as an ox, and dumb as a brick. The thing is that not only is Dolph a very intelligent man, but he was smart enough to not take a role in Rambo II: First Blood Part II. Yeah, that’s about as redundant as a title can be. But his character was essentially a background prop that wouldn’t have given him that big of a chance to really improve his position as a serious actor. Up until then, his big deal was that he’d been in a Bond movie and was a very impressive individual given that he was in shape, genuinely tough, and very intelligent. On top of this, he was obviously determined since he beat out thousands of other individuals looking to audition for the part of Ivan Drago.
But where he was even smarter was that he bowed out of the Rambo movie since he wanted to focus on training for his part in Rocky IV. It’s a little difficult to train properly when a person is also supposed to be on set acting out a part in a movie, so Dolph made a choice and decided to stick with the one movie instead of trying to go for both. It’s pretty obvious that Sylvester Stallone understood since he accepted this and then went on to film Rocky IV, where he actually told Dolph to hit him full force. This would end up forcing Stallone to head to the hospital and would also halt filming for a little bit, but at the end of the movie, it was seen that everything went off just as it should have. For years though, a lot of people did wonder what happened to Ivan after he lost, especially since he had a pretty noticeable meltdown in the ring.
It wouldn’t be until many years later that Drago would show up in Rocky’s life with his son in tow this time, ready to challenge Creed, who asked Balboa to train him to fight. Obviously Ivan had fallen on hard times since at one point he was his country’s best hope of humbling the world of boxing. With the death of Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, it was kind of easy to believe that Ivan was just that tough and couldn’t be stopped. No one bothered to think that Creed hadn’t been fighting for a while and despite appearances wasn’t in the same type of shape as Ivan. But the impression that a lot of people got about Dolph was that he was a bit of a mean character and didn’t have a lot of range to his acting. It’s true, in Rocky IV he didn’t, and he just barely broke out more than a grunt during the final match. He did get in a line “To the end.” that was impressive as it was ominous since it meant Ivan wasn’t going to stop, and he knew Rocky wouldn’t stop.
Apart from his acting, Dolph was pretty good in Rocky IV since he looked like a walking tank and he had the kind of power in his hands that was devastating once it hit. But of course, Balboa has always been like a hunk of rock that grew legs. The guy could take a beating and keep on going, somehow managing to will himself into the fight after his body looked like it should fall down. Speaking of Dolph though, he and Stallone did star in The Expendables as well, with Dolph making it for all three movies thus far. There’s still a rumor that Stallone is working on another Expendables movie, but we’ll have to wait and see on that count. In the meantime, Lundgren has kept his movie career moving forward throughout the years either with or without Stallone, but it has to be said that his turn as Drago was definitely the big up he needed.
He’s usually played a big tough guy in movies but he’s also had a chance to expand his act a bit. The only problem is that Dolph is one of THE big tough guys that are hard to see as anything but. His size and his appearance are usually taken into account before anything else, and he does get cast as either the big guy on the good guy’s side that is used as a bruiser or the bad guy that appears to be unstoppable. But giving credit where it’s due, he was able to show off a bit of his intelligence in The Expendable 2, even if it was a brief moment that didn’t really go anywhere.
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