Why They’re Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:44 am,

expendables 570 Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Yesterday we ran the first of 5 articles showcasing the cast of the upcoming man-tastic film, The Expendables.

That first article focused on the newer and lesser-known stars of the film and today we continue our series with the second installment, which will focus on the two of the bigger-name stars from the 80s and 90s – Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts.

There was some doubt in the comments of yesterday’s article on whether Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Steve Austin had done enough onscreen work to even be considered action stars, but in the case of Lundgren and Roberts, I don’t think that will be an issue.

The two actors’ combined body of work totals over 100 film and television appearances, and while not all of those are considered to be hits, a few are considered to be some of the most iconic roles of the past thirty years.

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Dolph Lundgren – Gunnar Jensen

the expendables dolph lundgren Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Dolph Lundgren is one of those actors who has become synonymous with action roles that involve less talking and more butt kicking. While I won’t swear by it, I would venture a guess that in his roles for The Punisher, Rocky IV, Universal Solider and A View to a Kill, he probably only had a combined total of 20 lines of dialogue – maybe less. In the early days of his career, Dolph was more about looking chiseled and mugging for the camera than he was about doing any kind of serious theatrical work, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

By choosing to go the route of the B-movie action star, Lundgren was able to give us awesome one-liners like “But you go in pieces,” in response to the alien menace from I Come in Peace and “I HAVE THE POWER!” as He-Man in Masters of the Universe. Here is an interesting quote from Dolph, taken from his website dolphlundgren.net regarding his role as He-Man:

Playing He-Man was pretty much my lowest point as an actor, it was a kids` movie. How much could I do as an actor when I was running around in swim trunks and chest armor?

I think he’s probably right because as bad as the very first Punisher film was, at least he was dressed in leather and guns. However, his outfit isn’t going to be a problem in The Expendables, where he plays “Gunnar Jensen,” an expert sniper with internal demons.

Lundgren is a real-life badass who holds a 3rd degree black belt in Karate and even captained the Swedish National Karate Team. And if you think he is all brawn and no brains, think again; he holds a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering from The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

So what has he done onscreen that qualifies him as an Expendable? Check out our top 5 reasons:

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#5 – Masters of the Universe

the expendables dolph lundgren masters of the universe Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Lundgren can hate this role all he wants, but the simple fact that he was manly enough to run around in “swim trunks and chest armor” place this film as one of his qualifiers. Swords, magic, an epic climatic battle with Skeletor  plus a series of one-liners? Yeah, ’nuff said.

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#4 – I Come in Peace

the expendables dolph lundgren i come in peace Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

In what is probably his best leading action role to date, Lundgren portrays Detective Jack Caine “a Houston cop who has forgotten how to follow the rules.” Things get ugly when the evil alien Talec drops onto earth in Caine’s city and starts killing people with heroin so he can harvest a rare drug from their brains. It’s a cheesy plot for a film and has even cheesier dialogue (see the quote I mentioned before) but the action scenes are way over the top and completely thrilling.

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#3 – Showdown in Little Tokyo

the expendables dolph lindgren showdown in little tokyo Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

As Sergeant Chris Kenner in Los Angeles, Lundgren teams up with Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) as two L.A. cops who, as the trailer so hammedly puts its, “are hungry for a little take out.” I was going to hunt down some clips from this movie and post them, but honestly the trailer has some of the best scenes in it – my favorite being where Lundgren punches through a door and rips a guy through it.

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#2 – The Punisher

the expendables dolph lundgren the punisher Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Lundgren is Frank Castle, a man out for revenge on the crime syndicate that murdered his family – and that’s pretty much where the movie stopped following the Marvel comic book. This movie is widely considered to be muddled mess, but somehow the producers managed to convince Louis Gossett Jr. to co-star in it. Bad movie asisde, Lundgren is a true badass – wearing leather, riding a motorcycle and sporting more weapons than an entire platoon.

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#1 – Rocky IV

the expendables dolph lundgren rocky iv Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Dolph Lundgren’s performance as Ivan Drago in 1985′s Rocky IV is by far and away his breakout role. He doesn’t have much dialogue and isn’t required to do that much “acting” but will always be remembered as the tall blond Russian boxer who killed Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). In what is probably one of the most enjoyable boxing scenes in cinema history, Ivan Drago and Rocky Balboa go toe-to-toe for several rounds. At 6’5″, Drago dwarfed Balboa and both put up worthy efforts, but in the end we all know Rocky had to win. I sometimes wonder: If Stallone and Lundgren were to really box, who would win?

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Continue on to why Eric Roberts is Qualified for The Expendables

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Eric Roberts – James Munroe

the expendables eric roberts Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Roberts has been one of the most versatile yet under-appreciated, male actors of the past 20 years. He actually has significant acting skills, but has been known to overact when the opportunity presents itself – which makes him the perfect villain for The Expendables. He plays James Munroe, an ex-C.I.A. agent that has less than honorable motives.

Roberts started his career by studying drama at London’s acclaimed Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at the young age of 17. After a handful of mildly successful films in the ’70s, Roberts was in a horrible crash in 1981 which put him in a coma for 3 days and significantly altered his appearance. Instead of the leading man roles, he started gravitating towards co-starring roles and through a series of bad choices (read: crappy films) found himself settling for paychecks instead of kudos.

Roberts was basically re-introduced to mainstream audience as Thompson, the head of The Company on the hit NBC show Heroes. One again, he proved himself to be a solid actor and was easily believable as the guy who’s loyalties you weren’t sure about. We compiled a list of our top 5 films that we believe qualify Eric Roberts to be in The Expendables:

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#5 – The Specialist

the expendables eric roberts the specialist Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Even though The Specialist isn’t considered to be one of the best films ever made (although I enjoyed it), Roberts gave a fine villainous performance as Tomas Leon, a mobster who has Sharon Stone’s father killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although the film ultimately pits Sylvester Stallone against James Woods, it’s Robert’s actions that are ultimately the catalyst for the action – that and the fact that Woods kills a little girl with a bomb at the beginning. That probably had something to do with it too.

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#4 – By the Sword

the expendables eric roberts by the sword Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

In 1991, Roberts played opposite F. Murray Abraham in a little-known action/drama set at a prestigious fencing academy. It was a shame that not many people knew about this film because Roberts does a good job of portraying Alex Villard, who runs the academy with a “win at all costs” mentality. F. Murray Abraham is Max Suba, a former fencing champion who is out of practice but takes the opposite approach to fencing. The movie ends with a climatic and exciting duel between Villard and Suba.

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#3 – Best of the Best 2

the expendables eric roberts best of best 2 Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

I literally just watched this film last night and I forgot how much I enjoy it. While the majority of the karate action comes from Phillip Rhee, Roberts does a good job of holding his own in the martial arts world.  Slender and decently built, Roberts has the look of a martial arts expert but this is one of those movies where he has a tendency to overact.

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#2 – Runaway Train

the expendables eric roberts runaway train Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Some consider this to be Robert’s breakout role, in which he plays opposite Jon Voight as two ex-criminals who stowaway on a freight train in the middle of winter in Alaska. The two find themselves in a chilling (heh) situation when the engineer dies of a heart attack leaving just them and a female railroad worker trapped on the out of control train. While there aren’t that many action scenes involving Roberts, it was his performance in the film which impressed many viewers.

#1 – Best of the Best

the expendables eric roberts best of the best Why Theyre Expendable: Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts

Alex Grady is a father and a martial expert chosen to come out of retirement after a shoulder injury to represent America in an international taekwondo tournament against Korea. Roberts actually does a great acting job and we get to struggle with his personal demons alongside him. The greatest moment for me is the final fight in the movie, where Grady re-injures his arm and must choose whether to quit and go home or fight on through the pain. He ends up choosing the latter and defeats his opponent with one-arm tied to his body. Bad. Ass.

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These are just some of the reasons that both Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts deserve to play a role in The Expendables. With such long and vast histories in action films, what other examples can you think of?

Follow us on Twitter @Walwus and @ScreenRant.

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TAGS: expendables cast, the expendables

32 Comments

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  1. How about his psycho award worthy performance and brawl with JCVD in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER?!

    • agreed Universal Soldier Needed to be on here, hell I’d even take Red Scorpion over He-Man

      • I thought about both, I really did. Ultimately I guess I really wanted He-man to be on there :)

        • He He i’m not mad at you, as I did enjoy Masters of the Universe for what it was back in the day, but still Master’s of the Universe couldn’t top the Ear necklace IMO :P :D

  2. i beleive there was the word “a$$hole” at the end of that first one liner you quoted Paul LOL. good articles, keep ‘em coming sir!!

    • LOL yeah I think you are right but it’s prolly best if I leave that part out :)

  3. LOL yeah good point. its funny, every timeim flpping the channels and i come accross one of Dolphs films, the channel surfing stops, i dont know why.

  4. Man, I feel like I’m getting old. I grew up on these films and like someone said, when one of these movies is on TV, the channel surfing stops.

    I Come In Peace is still one of my favorite flicks. So 80′s, so good. The score is amazing, action scenes are inspired and original, the concept is cool.

  5. I would also like to throw out Men of War for Lundgren. Lots of Cheesy one liners, having everything “Made in Sweden, like me”. The action is great though!

  6. Maybe im the only one @Paul Young,but I thought the original Punisher was pretty good.I remember buying it when I was a teen (Im a huge punisher fan),and I thought it wasnt horrible cheesy acting.B-Movie yes,but I thought it was good.lol

    And I know Dolph doesnt like it,but Master Of The Universe is one of my fav movies.lol

    • I thought the Dolph Lundgren Punisher was good also, but I used to get Keepr of the City which also Had louis gosset JR and Lungdren confused, the Thomas Jane Punisher want bad though, but that Punisher Warzone need to be flushed down the crapper with a boiling pot of hot water behind it

  7. Stallone has said several times that in real life, Lundgren would “break him.”

  8. “I sometimes wonder: If Stallone and Lundgren were to really box, who would win?”

    Stallone has stated this info in interviews in the past..I guess we know who would win..

    ” Sylvester Stallone has stated that the original punching scenes filmed between him and Dolph Lundgren in the first portion of the fight are completely authentic. Stallone wanted to capture a realistic scene and Lundgren agreed that they would engage in legitimate sparring. One particularly forceful Lundgren punch to Stallone’s chest slammed his heart against his breastbone, causing the heart to swell and his breathing to become labored. Stallone, suffering from labored breathing and a blood pressure over 200, was flown from the set in Canada to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and was forced into intensive care for eight days. Stallone later commented that he believed Lundgren had the athletic ability and talent to fight in the professional heavyweight division of boxing.

    Additionally, Stallone claimed that Lundgren nearly forced Carl Weathers to quit in the middle of filming the Apollo versus Drago exhibition fight. In one take for the Creed-Drago fight scene, Lundgren tossed Weathers into the corner of the boxing ring. Weathers retaliated by throwing an authentic punch at Lundgren’s face. Lundgren reportedly threw a right hook which left Weathers unconscious for several minutes. Upon regaining consciousness, Weathers shouted profanities at Lundgren while leaving the ring and announcing that he was quitting the movie and calling his agent. Only after Stallone forced the two actors to reconcile did the movie continue. This event caused a four day work stoppage while Weathers was talked back into the part, while Lundgren had to be forced into toning down his aggressiveness.”

  9. LOL When i was a little kid i thought He Man was saying “i have the flour!”,,My brothers thought i was nuts until they told me it was power and not flour..heck i thought he was baking a cake..lol

    • ROFL that is legendary

  10. Roberts was my hero in Best of the Best and Best of the Best 2 was epic. I would add to the list his role in The Dark Knight. Great list and sent me down memory lane with Masters of the Universe.

    • best of the best 2 sucked, sorry my friend

      • It wasn’t a classic piece of cinema but I wouldn’t say it sucked…OK so maybe by the very definition of the word “suck” it may have but there were still some cool fight scenes in it :)

        • Oh yea now it sucks it’s not good…but for a 12 year old getting to see a R rated sequel to his favorite movie and the movie contain a tournament fight like Street Fighter…it was epic.

  11. Awesome info.

    A lot of people don’t know that about Dolph’s background in competitive, full contact karate. In comparison, people think that Jet Li is a complete badass while he practices wu shu, a “demonstration” martial art. Li has himself said that he would loose a real fight to any of the MMA guys when he was filming Cradle 2 the Grave (?).

    And actually Dolph still trains and spars to this day.

    So beside Couture, Dolph is the biggest badass on that set.

    • That’s true. People who do martial arts for “fitness” or “self-defence” are fooling themselves. If they don’t know what it’s like to throw a punch, or receive one, at full force then their “training” doesn’t set them up for any real world situation.

      Props to Dolph.

      • To be fair, some of those ppl are not fooling themselves and it is a great way to stay in shape. But people get that confused with full contact combat sports.

        I always say that if you’re doing it to stay in shape, why not go further, spar, grapple, etc.? You’ll get into an even better show while learning how to actually fight.

      • Want to add to Dolph badassness, there is an article about some burglers breaking into his home and they are going through his stuff when they see a picture of him and his wife and the burglers drop everything and run out of the house. True story.

        • hahaha nice

    • thats only cuz Donnie Yen wasnst involved in this movie lol

  12. BY THE SWORD is such an underrated gem!

  13. Actually Lundgren’s performance in the most recent Universal Soldier belonged there more than anything. It was a legitimately unsettling creepy performance.

  14. ive always loved dolph lundgren.. his work in universal soldier was classic.. when he said.. IM ALL EARS.. and he yelled.. THERE YOU GO SOLDIER.. good work SCREENRANT..

  15. My favorite Eric Robert’s performance was in a little seen movie of the week called, “Saved by the Light”…
    He was also great in Prophecy 2.

    He’s about to star in a reality show, but I can’t tell you about it.

  16. Dolph would break Stallone any day!

    And he can still kick ass (and sing?) –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF6U2-_Dhw4

  17. I love that Masters Of The Universe movie, Skeletor is sooooo evil in it. And the effects arent bad. The score was a bit of a rip off from Superman if memory serves.

  18. I L.O.V.E.D Eric Roberts in Best of the Best.

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