Dolph Double Dip

Bubbawheat, over at Flights, Tights and Movie Nights is running a little something called “The Comic Strip Double Dip Blogathon“.  The idea is to get all us writey types to focus our creative energies on one specific topic.  In this case, it’s exploring the performances of actors who have taken on more than one Comic Book inspired movie role.  He put together a big list, making it easy to pick out a topic, and right around the middle of it, staring back at me was the perfect excuse to re-watch two movies I’ve been dying to revisit for years.


That’s right…  Dolph Lundgren:  Frank Castle/He-Man.  Dolph plays Frank Castle in 1989’s The Punisher, and he plays He-Man in 1987’s Masters of the Universe.  I’ve got a few thoughts about these movies in general before we delve deep into Dolph dichotomy discussion.

Both of these films are widely viewed as completely awful movies that don’t do any justice to their source material. Oddly, in both cases, I remember thinking that they were, in fact, widely underrated.  On a more personal note, since I’m not a big Rocky fan (I like Rocky III, and acknowledge Rocky is something special), these two roles, for me, are Dolph’s defining roles.  I mean, I can name at least two other non-Expendables titles he’s been in, but these two movies I remember as Dolph Lundgren movies.

So, without further ado… let us determine the answer to the age old question that no one has ever bothered to ask…  “Who does Dolph Lundgren play better, He-man or Frank Castle?”

Dolph’s Dilemma

The Punisher:  Dolph plays Frank Castle, an ex-cop who’s family was collateral damage in a mob hit meant for him.  Presumed dead, he’s taken on a quest for revenge, killing over 125 mobsters in the five years since the accident.  But when the Yakuza sense weakness in the local mafia, and make a move to take control, they cross the line, and Frank is forced to help save the children of the mobsters he has sworn to punish.

Won't someone think of the children?

Won’t someone think of the children?

Masters of the Universe:  Dolph plays He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe.  The evil Skeletor has seized control of Castle Grayskull, with the help of a Cosmic Key that creates portals in space and time using music.  Finding a second Cosmic Key, He-Man and his friends escape their home planet of Eternia, and end up here, on Earth.  In order to return home and face Skeletor, they must find their lost Cosmic Key, evade Skeletor’s pursuing henchmen, and protect the citizens of Earth.

No, I am most definitely not Emperor Palpatine.

No, I am most definitely not Emperor Palpatine.

The Verdict:  Both these stories are unbelievable, and horrible to the point of hilarity.  Frank Castle has evaded the police for 5 years, by living in abandoned sewers like a goddamn Ninja Turtle.  He’s able to take cover behind exploding objects, and come out unscathed.  He even stands in the doorway of a burning mansion, which promplty explodes… but he shows no sign of having been anywhere near an explosion.

But every single thing that happens in Masters of the Universe is ludicrous.  The level of disbelief-suspension to actually get immersed in Masters of the Universe would require mounting your disbeliefs to the Golden Gate Bridge, and painting them.  Of course, by the time you reached the end of the movie, you’d have to go back and paint the first disbeliefs you suspended, Next thing you know, you’re stuck in a never ending loop of nonsense.  And no one wants that.

Edge:  The Punisher

This Round’s Winner: The Punisher

Dolph’s Duds

The Punisher:  In the comics, Frank Castle wears a skin tight kevlar suit, with white boots and gloves, and a Sylized skull painted on his chest.  For a comic book character created in the 80s… this is actually pretty subtle.  In the movie, Dolph wears black late-80s biker-chic clothes, and some fancy boots that have metal on them.  Considering that the actual comic costume could have been in no way taken seriously, the costume is a pretty good compromise.  They’ve also dyed Dolph’s hair black, which–even though it’s Frank’s hair colour–oddly off-putting for anyone that’s seen his shining blonde locks in anything else he’s starred in.

Dolph tries really hard to sound like Sly Stallone in this movie.

Dolph tries really hard to sound like Sly Stallone in this movie.

Masters of the Universe:  Originally, He-Man wore a loin cloth, some strappy chest thing, and had a bob haircut.  In Masters of the Universe, Dolph wears pretty much the same, except instead of a loin cloth, it’s more of a leather speedo, and they’ve added a cape and some epaulets, and gave Dolph a mullet, because they wouldn’t want him looking ridiculous.

If only "The Power" came with some clothes.

If only “The Power” came with some clothes.

Verdict:  This is actually a really hard toss-up.  Normally, I’m all about having the on-screen characters seem true to their on-page counterparts, without looking ridiculous in spandex.  But… Dolph looks so much more like He-Man than he does Frank Castle…. They’ve stuck so closely that there’s no way he could ever possibly be taken seriously.  But no one was ever going to take a He-Man movie seriously anyway.

This Round’s Winner:  Draw


Dolph’s Depth

I’m just going to come out and say it… no one is ever going to mistake Dolph Lundgren for Ian McKellan.  He is not one of the world’s great actors.  Neither of these roles would be considered challenging on an acting level.  So how do we judge Dolph’s Depth?  With screen shots of Dolph trying really hard to emote, that’s how.

The Punisher

The Punisher



This Round’s Winner: Dolph hilariously trying to emote mid-action in Masters of the Universe.

Dolph’s Danger

The Punisher:  The movie has some pretty good action scenes, with a couple fun hand-to-hand fights.  However, when guns are blazing, the bullets seem to hit fewer targets than the A-Team.  That being said, people definitely die, as opposed to possibly just being stunned.  The best action really comes from Wet-Suit Ninjas, when they kick into action.

Wet-Suit Ninjas.

Wet-Suit Ninjas.

Masters of the Universe:  The only thing with worse aim than a mob guy shooting at Frank Castle, is a Storm Trooper… and Masters of the Universe has lots of Storm Troopers.  There’s, again, a few good melee fights, only this time they all involve Dolph.  Dolph gets to dive over a crate, and defend a music store from waves of Storm Troopers.  Also, the final villain is defeated in melee combat.

Swords rule.

Swords rule.

Verdict:  Sword fighting is infinitely better than gunfighting.  Bad sword fights look cheesier than bad gun fights…. and a climactic sword fight is just about the best way to end any movie.  Jurassic Park… Raptors with katanas?  Sold.  Or just imagine Schindler’s List ended with a climactic sword fight.  You’re welcome.


This Round’s Winner: Masters of the Universe

Dolph’s Denudation

The Punisher:  Dolph has a shirtless torture scene.  Also, for some reason, Sam Raimi Evil-Vision™ runs through the sewers, to some kind of shrine thing he’s got set up.  He sits there, naked, and we’re treated to his ass-crack.  This happens, like, 3 times.

I'm not going to show you his ass crack.

I’m not going to show you his ass crack.

Masters of the Universe:  Dolph wears much less for the entirety of the movie.  He is constantly shirtless, either wearing the small strappy thing and a cape, or no chest-wear at all.  There’s no ass-crack, though.

Seriously... Right now, he's wearing one piece of clothing less than he does through the rest of the movie.

Seriously… Right now, he’s wearing only one less piece of clothing than he does through the rest of the movie.

Verdict:  Gratuitous Male Nudity is hilarious.  That said, I’m not sure how to grade this one.  There’s more of Dolph in The Punisher, but there’s more of Dolph in Masters of the Universe.  Regardless, over 2 hours worth of Dolph shirtless has made me realize that I need to re-watch Season 1 of Community more often.  Dolph has nipples so tiny, Vaughn would feel like he had saucer-tits.

This Round’s Winner:  Community?  I guess we’ll throw it to The Punisher, because the fact that right after a torture sequence this shot exists…

is just hilariously dreamy.

…is just hilariously dreamy.


Dolph’s Dolls

For the tie-breaker, we go to the toys.  This really isn’t fair, because neither toy is based off Dolph.  But life’s not fair, is it?

The Punisher

The Punisher

Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe

Verdict:  I find it very funny that the toy of the character who’s willing to use lethal force comes with a bunch of non-lethal weapons… and the toy of the guy who’ll never kill anyone has a great big head-choppy sword.

Fact of the matter is, one of these guys is a guest toy in another character’s line… the other is the star of one of the defining toy lines of a generation.

This Round's Winner:  Masters of the Universe

This Tie-Breaking Round’s Winner: Masters of the Universe


Dolph’s Denouement

With a final score of 4-3  (or 3-2, depending on how your preferred sport awards points in the event of a draw)  the victor:

Masters of the Universe

Masters of the Universe

10 comments on “Dolph Double Dip

  1. Ok, hey. First off, the A Team intentionally missed their targets, ok? They were compassionate soldiers of fortune, they didnt want to kill unless it was necessary. And seeing as they always won the day? It wasnt necessary.

    LOL @ the thought of a sword fight at the end of Schindler’s list.

    I think the audience is a winner whenever Lundgren is involved, period. I just watched Rocky IV the other day, and of course… he was awesome as Drago. Masters of the Universe is still fresh for me too. Plus he shows up in A View to a Kill!

    How can you go wrong with this guy? Answer: You cant.

    • “It wasn’t necessary.” Except that one time. Regardless, I meant for that to read in The A-Team… Honestly. Because the MPs and Good Ol’ Boys never did any better at hitting their targets either. But now I have to let the typo and forgotten italics stand.

      Dolph’s great. I’m due for a re-watching of Universal Soldier soon, too, I think.

  2. Hilarious write-up, Spikor. Me, I appreciate Dolph as an icon of 80s cheese. Sure, he’s not a great actor, but it’s almost impossible not to enjoy watching him do his thing.

    Unless his thing is making us stare at his ass crack.

    • Thank you, sir.

      I really respect his attitude about the work he’s done. He knows it’s not Shakespeare, but that it’s brought a lot of fun to a lot of people. And that a movie like MotU, even as far away as it is from what the fans might have wanted, still means a lot to some people who really love the franchise.

  3. Can’t believe I forgot to comment on this, probably because I originally read it on my phone and have been caught up in all the Lammy awards goodness. Thanks for joining in, love the write up and the double scoop of Dolph pic. I agree that Masters of the Universe wins hands down, the Punisher is barely even a Punisher movie, and they put the skulls on his knives, which he barely even uses. I do think it’s funny how he just throws a gun away every time he’s done using it. But still, for my money Masters is a much more entertaining watch.

    • 100% agreed, but I do really enjoy The Punisher. The supporting cast adds so much to it. Lou Gossett Jr.’s Pizza Punch is quite possibly one of the funniest take-downs on film. Also funny, is that even though it’s practically from the ’90s, there’s some hilariously outdated misogyny to be found, too. Dolph dropping a Burt Reynolds calibre pose after being tortured is the funniest point by far, though.

      None of that holds a candle to MotU, though. That’s just camptastic from start to finish.

  4. Pingback: Comic Strip Double Dip Blogathon – Week 2! | Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights

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