When compiling a list of action movie actors you would most want to be saved from a zombie apocalypse by the legend that is Dolph Lundgren would probably rank pretty high.
Okay so he isn’t in his 80’s prime anymore but he is far from 80 in age or attitude having consistently worked since his heyday between 85 to 92 where he stared in A View to a Kill, Red Scorpion and the sublime action Sci-Fi Universal Soldier.
During that time he also brought the plastic kids toy He-Man to life, stared in the second best Punisher film ever made and created the iconic cold blooded Russian killing machine Ivan Drago all of which giving him the credentials needed to save humanity from fast zombies and rampaging robots as he does in Battle of the Damned, aptly coming out this Boxing Day (get it because he was Drago.. oh forget it!)
Set in a post-apocalyptic future Lundgren is the awesomely named Max Gatling a man sent on a mission to retrieve a female survivor from the infected zone, an inhabitable area on the outskirts of civilization filled with brain munching zombies.
Nothing is ever simple though especially in low budget action horror movies and Gatling finds himself forced to save the whole group of survivors that she is with while fighting off the undead and some deadly prototype androids.
However with some cyber tinkery and testosterone Max alters and upgrades the gang of robots which he uses as well as his fists and guns to shoot and punch his way home dragging the ungrateful group along whether they like it or not.
Looking like it was created in a drunken late night script meeting by drawing random popular genre stereotypes out of a hat Battle of the Damned combines zombies and robots with evil corporation conspiracies, apocalyptic wastelands, romance, Kung Fu and lots and lots of guns.
Personally I have always thought of Lundgren as an above average action star who got type cast as the villain and sadly along the way didn’t get the breaks other actors such as Stallone or Schawzenegger did.
His willingness to send himself up, a trait not shared by other iconic stars of his era (yes Steven Segal I am talking about you) coupled with his embracement of anarchic characters such as Andrew ’I’m all ears’ Scott in Universal Solider, the insane Street Preacher in cyber punk Johnny Mnemonic and most recently in his redemptive turn as the troubled and unpredictable Gunnar Jensen in the amazing Expendables series proves he can in fact act if given the opportunity while also looking awesome breaking necks and blowing up buildings at the same time if needed.
Sadly Battle of the Damned does little to test his talents serving up an substandard Escape from New York plot line with added zombies and robots which although look well done effects wise do very little to add originality to the mundane uninspiring story line.
If you’re looking for a low budget entertaining Sci-Fi action horror Battle of the Damned is a great distraction but ultimately it is neither good enough to be above other B-movie offerings or bad enough to be a cult oddity.
That said anything that keeps Lundgren working is good in my books and fans of his work will not be disappointed, I just wish someone would give him the role he deserves preferably one that still involves kicking and shooting things except with a bit more character development.