Sunday, June 30, 2013

King of Fighters: Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic

I used to watch a lot of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) but was a closet fan since for a long time it was referred to as "human cock-fighting" (by a douche bag who ran a state where regular cock fighting was legal) or brought to mind a bro-douche bag clad in a Tapout shirt (catchy name but means surrender in the sport).  During the heyday of Pride and UFC, you had super stars, athletes with larger than life personalities and a cool mystic.  Knock out artist, Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, shoot-fighter Ken "The World's Most Dangerous Man" Shamrock, Sambo expert Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko and my personal favorite, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic; a K-1 kickboxer who also served on his native country of Croatia's Anti-Terrorist Unit and in Parliament.

Today, Mixed Martial Arts is everywhere in the form of juggernaut UFC, on Pay-Per View and several FOX affiliates.  But where have all the stars gone?  Where have all the characters disappeared to?  The Greatest Of All Time, Anderson "The Spider" Silva is ready to retire.  Lyoto "Ryu from Street Fighter" didn't quite live up to his early promise.  Georges "Rush" St. Pierre dominates but can't finish a fight.  Chael Sonnen runs his mouth, earns title shots and gets destroyed.  The fact that it runs on multiple channels and PPV has saturated the market with fighters you've never heard of and too many bouts to keep track of.  Ah well...

Cro Cop's story always interested me; a young kid, inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, teaches himself how to fight in the outskirts of Croatia.  Making his own weights, kicking walls and running around, the kid starts to box and eventually kickbox.  In 1996 at age 22 he was a commando for the Croatian police and had his first professional bout in K-1, the wildly popular Japanese organization of karate, kung fu and muy thai.  Cro Cop fought the best of the best in K-1 and won legions of fans with his displays of courage, heart and aggressiveness that were manifested in his crisp punching combinations, wicked low kicks and deadly high kicks.  His statuesque physique, cool facade, sense of humor and well rounded background made him a fighter you could root for in and out of the ring.

By the early 2000's, MMA was growing and Cro Cop transitioned to Pride Fighting Championships, home of Fedor, Big Nog, The Axe Murderer and other colorful characters/fighters.  Each event was a spectacle and the Japanese loved Cro Cop.  After winning the Open Weight Grand Prix and mulling retirement, Cro Cop changed organizations and headed for the big show, the UFC.  Early chatter put him on a collision course to meet then current champ Randy "The Natural" Couture but after losing to Gabriel Gonzaga in arguably the biggest upset in MMA history, Cro Cop never seemed to recover mentally and finished out with 3 straight losses before leaving in 2011.

Life after the UFC wasn't quiet for long as Mirko has fought sporadically in MMA and more regularly in K-1.  After quietly rattling off a string of victories in the ring, Cro Cop was back in the hunt for K-1 gold and recently won the World Grand Prix Championship at age 38.


Summer Cinema: Last Action Hero

As if a screening of the newly restored, 50th anniversary, Digital Print of The Great Escape wasn't enough for my chock filled Saturday, I headed east to a midnight screening of 1993's hugely entertaining yet financially disappointing Last Action Hero.  There was a surprisingly long line queued up outside The New Beverly with an interesting mix of attendees who probably remember the flick upon release as well as many who might not even have been born yet.

For the uninitiated, Last Action Hero is the story of young Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien, The Lawnmower Man), a nice yet lonely kid who spends much of his time at a rundown New York City theater run by benevolent operator/usher/projectionist Nick (Robert Prosky, Mrs. Doubtfire).  His favorite on screen hero is Jack Slater; a tough, wise ass Los Angeles cop played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nick offers to screen the latest Slater installment for Danny and provides him a "magic ticket", given to Nick by magician extraordinaire Harry Houdini.

While watching Slater battle thugs on screen, the ticket comes to life and throws Danny into the movie, into the middle of the action of "bad puns, the voice and hard rock".  Danny helps Slater solve the case within the movie all while trying to convince the larger than life hero it's all make believe.  But when evil hitman with interchangeable menacing glass eye, Benedict (Charles Dance, The Golden Child (Please give me the knife...)), gets a hold of the ticket and warps to Danny's reality, the mismatched duo must follow and stop him.  Now Slater deals with the harsh reality of a world where shooting a car in the trunk doesn't make it explode, punching through a car window hurts and staying up all night with a woman can involve only talking.

Watching it for the first time on the big screen with an enthusiastic crowd was the best way to ever see it.  Laughter, cheering and applause roared throughout the duration.  Arnold is hilarious as Slater, the parody of his on screen action hero persona and as a self promoting buffoon in the "real world".  The flick is also filled to the brim with cameos from the likes of Tina Turner, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Danny Devito (as an animated cat), Maria Shriver and the "Muscles From Brussels" himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme!  There was even an actor from the film in attendance (Skeezy, played by Jeffrey Braer). It's simple yet hopeful message of, "the world is what you make of it" and "believe" gives it a nice, family friendly appeal amongst the mania.

Last Action Hero was Arnold at the top of his career following the success of Twins (where he convincingly played a virgin in an Oscar caliber performance), Total Recall (See you at the party, Richter!), Kindergarten Cop (I have nothing else to do and nowhere else to go) and the mega hit, cinema changing Terminator 2:  Judgement Day (Chill out, dickwad).  This was to be his most appealing film yet with action, comedy, humanity, a lower body count, positive message and a PG-13 rating.  A real four quadrant affair that was supposed to play out all summer.  But it didn't...

Young writers Zak Penn and Adam Leff crafted a spoof on the over the top action genre of the 80's.  You know, the movies where the hero is a pumped up soldier or cop with a dark past but cuts through red tape and gets the job done by taking on an army by himself?  Penn and Leff's script was presented to Arnold, who everyone was looking to get into business with.  Interested in the concept but feeling it needed work, the Oak drafted Lethal Weapon writer and co-star in Predator, Shane Black, to do a polish.  Black brought in partner David Arnott and the two tweaked the script to the tune of a cool one million smackers.  Still feeling the script lacked heart, Arnold convinced legendary screenwriter William Goldman to do a pass.

Whereas a comedic or dramatic director might have excelled in the hybrid project, action maestro John McTiernan was hired.  The man behind many of the films that inspired Penn and Leff in the first place.  McTiernan's work on Die Hard, Predator and The Hunt For Red October showed audiences and studio executives that you could make a film with great action and sympathetic characters without having to play dumb.  Last Action Hero was to be Sony's tentpole for the summer of 1993 so an accelerated production schedule saw the film being shot and released in a 9 month window.  The advertising was huge; toys, video games, a Burger King campaign, even an ad on a rocket launched into space.  In the end, all of this synergy and wide appeal would be the undoing of the picture.  As it stands, Last Action Hero is an enjoyable, clever and exciting time at the movies but ultimately confused in its goal and hurried in its execution.

There was also a bigger, unavoidable problem lurking.  A little movie called Jurassic Park ended up being THE movie of the summer and the year.  As T2 had changed the game with it's use of special effects in 1991, JP took things to a new level and birthed two sequels whereas the sequel plans for Last Action Hero were probably put into a shredder after opening weekend.  Even Sylvester Stallone, on a career slide going into the summer of 93, rebounded with his mountain climbing/heist flick, Cliffhanger.  Thus fueling the professional rivalry that would eventually become a beautiful bromance.

Never one to be deterred by failure, Arnold went back to James Cameron and the result was True Lies; an R rated, bombastic, funny and well made piece of summer cinema that was the 3rd highest grossing picture of 1994.  As he is now again, Arnold was back.

Here's Arnold as Hamlet:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Track Star: Power Glove

We celebrated Dolph week recently (let's face it, it's always Dolph week) with some workouts inspired by his awesomely 80's training video, Maximum Potential.  Now here's a catchy track named after the incredible VHS courtesy of retro music connoisseur and maker Power Glove.  Power Glove also did the catchy, 80's inspired synth soundtrack for Far Cry 3:  Blood Dragon featuring Michael Biehn (of being Michael "fuckin'" Biehn fame) as super soldier Rex Colt.

Let's do some trunk twists and get ready...

Summer of Sturges: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

John Sturges that is. During the 1950's and 60's, John Sturges was one of Hollywood's most prolific directors, churning out critical and commercial hits like Bad Day At Black Rock, Escape From Fort Bravo, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Ice Station Zebra. Through his lengthy career he directed a who's who of leading men including Spencer Tracy, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, James Garner, James Coburn and Rock Hudson.

Many of the titles listed above deal with soldiers or police types in the middle of seemingly insurmountable odds. Infiltrating a racist town to uncover a hidden murder, trying to stop a prison escape while defending the innocent, 7 men taking on 40; there isn't a meat grinder Sturges didn't throw his characters into. This is where he excels as a story teller; creating a deft balance between character and action. His films always excite as much as they illuminate the trials, tribulations and thoughts of our heroes.

Perhaps his most seminal work, The Great Escape, is celebrating it's 50th anniversary. Around Los Angeles, a new, 4K restoration digital print premiered at the Turner Classic Movie Festival in April and is playing at the historical Aero Theatre this weekend. Since Sturges' work is never far from my television, I've declared it Sturges week with nightly viewings to prime the pump for the momentous occasion.

1957's Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is a take on an old classic, the story of near mythical lawman Wyatt Earp and his friendship with card playing killer Doc Holliday. The film takes place before, during and after the duo's involvement in the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. Where Wyatt, his brothers and Holliday took on local cattle barons The Clantons after business and family tensions boiled into a personal vendetta and eventual war. It's a fun, exciting and well made western yarn full of gunfights, showdowns, love, loss, heartbreak and vengeance.

Another staple of Sturges work is his notion of "minding the gut" of a cast. He felt stars would take care of their own but the middle roles are just as important. Viewers will spot Rhonda Fleming, John Ireland (Spartacus), Earl Holliman (Sons of Katie Elder), a young Dennis Hopper, DeForest Kelly (Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy) and Lee Van Cleef in a small role among many others.

Burt Lancaster plays Earp strong and stern while Kirk Douglas portrays John "Doc" Holliday as charming yet angry beneath the smile. This would be the 2nd of an eventual 7 movies the two played opposite each other. Director John Frankenheimer (Seven Days In May, The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin) described them as professional rivals, like two great boxers always trying to get the best out of the other. In a time before homoerotic (Rocky III), heroic bloodshed (John Woo's The Killers) and bromance (Arnold and Sly in The Expendables), Lancaster and Douglas were just a case of square deal and "I like your cut". Men appreciating other men. According to Douglas' autobiography, their off screen rapport saw them having dinner after shooting and sitting around talking late into the night. Their natural ease with one another even rankled one of the film's producers who just couldn't understand having a friendship like they had.

The film recently played at UCLA's tribute to Burt Lancaster with Kirk Douglas on hand to introduce the film.  Unfortunately an out of town wedding put the kibosh on seeing Corral on the big screen with a living legend.  Ah well, I was a couple feet away from him at a Spartacus anniversary.

Check out this clip where Earp and Holliday confront 20 cowboys:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ask Me a Question: Beetlejuice

*Warning, for some reason I cursed a lot during this post*

Summer officially began on Thursday, 6.20 which means, among other things, that outdoor movie screenings are in full swing.  Cinespia's screenings at Hollywood Forever have long been the dominant force but has since grown too large for it's own good.  Basically, it's not about the movies anymore; it's about finding parking, waiting in line, having a crappy spot in the grass, people smoking tobacco (regular and wacky), drunken stumbling, phone checking, fighting the horde to get out...i.e. a huge fucking hassle.

Trust me, I attended their Jurassic Park event for 4th of July last year.  At the time I thought it was fun and all of the above grievances were just part of attending events in Los Angeles.  But a few weeks later I attended a screening of 80's/eternity classic, Back to the Future, part of the inaugural Oscars Outdoors venture into social events put on by The Academy.  After that, I basically said, "fuck Hollywood Forever", there isn't a movie they could show that I would endure the hipster, scene bullshit again for.

Am I being harsh?  To each their own but free parking, no smoking, great seating, food trucks, BYOB, giant Oscar statues to pose with and the lack of drunk/high idiots on their phones for $5.00 is to me, the deal of a fucking century.

This year's line up is a curious mix of old and new, quirky tales of youth, unabashed classics and a few I've plain never heard of.  Titles like: National Lampoon's Vacation, Peter Pan, Groundhog Day, Clueless, King Kong, POINT BREAK (playing at least 3 times this summer), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and tonight's feature, Tim Burton's 1988 effort, Beetlejuice.

As magic hour faded away, our announcer for the evening welcomed us with a letter from co-star Catherine O'Hara (Home Alone, KEVIN!) who was out of the country but wanted us to know how much she appreciated being invited to the event.  She had nothing but fond memories of the production and met her future husband, production designer Bo Welch, on set.

Half a dozen guests were trotted out, I can't recall all of their names but they were lead by co-writer/producer Larry Wilson.  The other guests were involved in designing the film, creating it's non-CGI effects, physical production and sound editing.  They all seemed happy to remember the film, working with Tim Burton, taking over a small town to shoot the movie, coming up with practical gags and working in a pre-computer era.

I hadn't seen this movie in years or maybe never in it's entirety.  Basically, a nice couple dies in an accident, travel to the great beyond and enlist the help of an obnoxious, "bio-exorcist" in an effort to rid their home of a horrible yuppie couple that moves in.  Michael Keaton steals the show as the "ghost with the most" who helps the deceased couple but really just wants to escape from the after life.

Like all Tim Burton work, there are great visuals on display, creepy Gothic yet cartoonish supporting characters and a great cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller's principal!), Catherine O'Hara and Glenn Shadix (who would wear a kimono onscreen again in Demolition Man (Stallone VS Snipes alert!)).

I'm not sure who saw this and thought, man, these guys should do Batman!  And Beetlejuice should play him!  But hey, it worked out.

Gotta Eat! Penguin Fish and Chips

After that great workout at the beach; with the sun on my shoulders, breeze in my face and the smell of the ocean in my nose, what better way to begin the recuperation process than enjoying some fresh sea food, right?  Fish is full of lean protein, healthy fats and is generally low in fat and calories... Well, remember how I told you I'm a former chubby kid?  A big part of that reason is because I love to eat.  And as I've come of age, that now includes drinking.  So basically I work out to eat out.  You can eat to live or live to eat, right?

Today's gastronomical (mis?) adventure comes courtesy of Penguin Fish and Chips on Pico.  I pass this hole in the wall on my many trips to McDonald's.  But after a disappointing batch of McNuggets last week I decided to pump the brakes and turn early.  A case in front displays all of their oceanic options.  So at least it's fresh, I think.  I opted for a combo dinner in order to get a taste of their menu.  Red Snapper, shrimp and oysters all deep fried to golden deliciousness with a side of macaroni salad, hush puppies and fries.

After tearing through half of it (restraint in older age), I quickly fell into a growth nap to prepare for the night's festivities, Beetlejuice at the Oscars Outdoors.

Bobby Flay and his take on Fish, chips, cup o' tea:

Workout of the Day: Ropes, bars, rings and things

Whenever people ask me why I work out, I simply reply, "too many Jean-Claude Van Damme movies as a kid", cue laughter.  It's a lot easier than explaining how I was an angry, insecure, chubby kid...

Today's workout is brought to you by the Swings, Rings and Ropes at the Santa Monica Pier (it has it's own Yelp listing!).  I had been here years ago and on a whim decided to change up the ol' training program and enlist some body weight techniques.  If you're like me you might immediately think that parking in Santa Monica is a nightmare.  I'm sure it can be but a $1.00 an hour lot off Ocean Park allayed my concerns.  A quick walk up the beach (the loose sand makes for a great calf and quad warm up) and I spotted my destination.

Just south of the Pier are several sets of rings, climbing ropes, parallel and chin up bars.  It was interesting to see the different dynamics of Saturday morning fitness enthusiasts around:  Crossfit camps, would-be American Ninja Warrior contestants, tourists, kids, random bros messing around and me.

After a very inadequate warm up I jumped on the rope and tested my mettle.  I forgot the last time I climbed one of these things I was wearing socks and shoes.  So holding the rope between your feet Sidekicks (Chuck Norris, Jonathan Brandis, Mako and Joe Piscapo alert!) style brought near instant pain as the rope scraped off a few layers of skin.  After going 2/3 of the way up, I worried the friction would cause me to lose grip and came back down.  Tried it one more time, same feeling.

I moseyed around messing with the various equipment and completed a circuit 3 times:

Ring Pull Ups superset with close grip push ups
Front dip (hands in front of you on a bar or ledge, kind of like a vertical push up)
Jump high chins (Jump up to the bar, pulling body up as high as possible)
Dips on parallel bar then inched forward and backward in the upright position.

A quick stretch and walk back to the car equaled the end to my relaxing yet challenging trip to the beach.

Yelp listing:

Sidekicks Trailer:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm a Doer! Reign of Fire's Denton Van Zan

"It's my territory.  It's your territory.  They're just renting it."

(Gravelly announcer voice) It is the year 2020, the Earth has been ravaged by dragons; the soaring, fire breathing menace of lore.  Mankind has nearly gone extinct, survivors live quietly among ruins and ash.  One man seeks to preserve life while another seeks to eradicate a species.  It is, the Reign of Fire.

"There's nothing magical about them, they're made up of a collection of organs; a mind, a heart, a liver, you take out one of these, you bring down the beast!"

I remember seeing this flick upon release on my birthday in 2002 and thinking what a ridiculous bad ass Matthew McConaughey was as the bald headed, yoked out, tatted up dragon slayer Denton Van Zan.  Christian Bale is also fine in his role as the peaceful, logical leader of a group of survivors, Quinn, but McCon took the flashier role and ran with it.  He's brash, physical and driven, like To Live and Die In LA's Richard Chance, Van Zan was one who lived by the sword and would die by the sword (or in this case, a dragon and an axe).  It was a nice departure from McConaughey who previously played nice opposite Jennifer Lopez in the rom-com, The Wedding Planner.

"Dig your own holes, die in them."

What's fun about these characters is that you know they're not going to be the reasonable voice of the picture or even make it to the end but they will invigorate those around them and force them to act.  In Reign of Fire, Van Zan's sudden appearance, dragon theories and man power demands force semi-pacifist Quinn to confront his fear of the beasts and attempt to obliterate them once and for all.  His notion that there is only one male in the species leads to an ill fated trek to London to hunt down the big daddy.  After his forces are wiped out, Van Zan realizes his full throttle, fight hard, die fast style of warfare will not advance the human race (it is good at getting the blood pumping though).  With the help of Bale's calm and collected Quinn, they sneak into London undetected and feed papa Dragon an explosive Popsicle but not before he eats Van Zan like a bug.

To prepare for the role, McConaughey says he spent two months at his ranch getting in shape by pushing a truck, wrestling with cows, lifting weights, running and boxing.  Allegedly, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was in talks to appear in the film so it's ironically appropriate that McConaughey took a page from The Oak and played the role with physical gusto.

"Come on, big boy!"

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gotta Eat! Lucky Sandwich Company

I could really go for a sammich with french fries on it right about now...

Gotta Eat! Bobcat Bites

Bobcat Bite is a small, family run restaurant on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Their Green Chile burger was featured in the documentary Hamburger America as well as the pages of GQ.  For over ten years, Bonnie and John Eckre ran the cozy joint (and I mean cozy like someone built an extra room on their house cozy).  Unfortunately, the Eckre's and the property owners couldn't see eye to eye on the future of the Bite and decided to part ways.

It seemed like fate that I would be in the area on their last weekend of operation so I could try the famous food before the doors closed.  Eleven of us trekked out of the city and onto I-25, the Old Las Vegas Highway.  Bobcat Bite is literally in the middle of nowhere.  You're driving and there it is.  The place was packed with multiple parties waiting outside.  Being the final days and only being able to hold 28 patrons, we figured a wait was in order.  Unfortunately, the 90 minute wait time was just a little longer than we could afford.

Since I can't regale with you with my experience, we'll let the experts:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dolph Week: Masters of the Universe

Do you remember your first movie in theaters?  I do, it was Masters of the Universe.  In the year nineteen hundred and eighty seven I was 5 years old, making this inaugural trip to the theater one of my earliest memories.  Earlier than that?  Mom and dad letting me watch He-Man and She-Ra:  A Christmas Special on Christmas Day in 1983. Whoda thunk my two earliest memories would involve the cartoon and live action versions of He-Man?

Cut to nearly 26 years later and I just watched MOTU while working out this past Friday.  Has it aged well?  Or has it soured into childish cheese only the kid in me remembers fondly?  It's still very much a reflection of the time it was produced but I don't hold that against it.  The 80's were a magical time when Star Wars and Spielberg tinged every family adventure while the blades of Conan the Barbarian and The Sword and the Sorcerer gave fantasy a raw edge.  So no, I have not outgrown MOTU, in fact, I like it more now than I probably ever have.  It's still a fun, sci-fi and sword romp of near epic proportions with a simple message:  There's only one of you in the universe.

He-Man has waned and spiked in relevance and popularity ever since the earth shattering cartoon series took to the air in 1983.  Reinvented cartoons, comic books and toy lines have come and gone while an updated live action cinematic adventure has floundered for the last decade.  Through all of this, the 1987 version has stayed with me through various means.  Whether it was the constant showings on local cable, the VHS copy on my shelf or the DVD I inherited from a roommate, Masters was never long out of my sight.

Once, while wandering around the city of Whittier, California I stumbled into a store run by a gentleman who was present during the shooting of the film!  He had a stash of fold out posters from the film and regaled my friend and I with stories of the production.  Nothing too revelatory; they took over the town and destroyed it at night, Courtney Cox was a minor so her mom was around, etc.

Thanks to the prominent rise of Pop/Nerd Culture, nostalgia and midnight movies, MOTU has been making a bit of a come back for the last few years.  Screenings have popped up in California, New York, Texas, Ohio, Canada and the United Kingdom.  In 2009, the now defunct Fairfax Regency played it during their Insomniac Cinema program.  There was a solid turn out which surprised the organizers who said attendance for the last several movies had been lackluster.  Just this past December the famous New Beverly Cinema played it at midnight with director Gary Goddard and production designer William Stout in attendance.

Goddard and Stout have also been on the convention circuit talking up their experiences on Masters of the Universe; showing up at San Diego Comic-Con and Power-Con, the He-Man/ThunderCats convention in Torrance, CA.  Along with the fine commentary by Goddard on the DVD, these appearances help flesh out the behind the scenes turmoil this picture went through.

- Cannon Films and Mattel were to each pay for half the film's budget.  Mattel put up their half first.
- Mattel didn't want He-Man to kill anyone, curse or have a love interest.
- Cannon had over extended itself with costly flops like Over The Top so Mattel had to step in.
- Goddard surrounded newcomer Lundgren with veterans like Frank Langella, Billy Barty and Jon Cypher to ground the performances.
- Worked extensively with Langella to enhance Skeletor's role and dialogue, pulling from Shakespeare, classic poetry and Jack Kirby's work on Fantastic Four.
- Goddard wanted to dub Lundgren's voice but was contractually unable to.
- Sword master and Blade himself, Anthony DeLongis trained Dolph in swordplay and lamented that he was a natural athlete who caught on quickly and swung hard.
- Goddard offered Warner Brothers a new documentary and a commentary moderated by X-Men director Bryan Singer for a 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray, WB said no. 
- Goddard's biggest regret is changing the ending from individual goodbyes to a group scene.
- There have been 3 serious attempts to make the movie at WB but all have failed.

All things Masters of the Universe and Dolph Lundgren:

Check out the trailer:
Good journey!

Workout of the Day: Dolph Lundgren's Maximum Potential

It's been a Dolph-centric week around here with viewings of I Come In Peace and Masters of the Universe; posts on their significance and contribution to humanity coming soon.  Today was not about Dolph Lundgren the movie star but Dolph Lundgren the fitness enthusiast.

Hot off the success of Rocky IV, Swedish karate champion and chemical engineer turned big screen icon Lundgren put together a workout video for the ages.  In Dolph Lundgren's Maximum Potential, Ivan Drago designed a comprehensive wellness routine to school you in the ways of getting swole in the privacy of your own living room.  Throughout the 52 minute running time, Mr. Lundgren puts you through mental, physical and spiritual training set to a rocking synth soundtrack.

The video opens with Dolph working as a lifeguard reflecting on the importance of keeping fit in order to reach our full or Maximum Potential.  His workout is broken into five parts:

1)  Warm Up - Let's get hot and loose.  This consists of Dolph on a rotating platform looking buff and tan in tight short shorts stretching.  As a heterosexual man you feel a little weird watching but inspired at the same time.
2)  Cardiovascular - Because the best things for your heart are pumping and humping.  2 minute rounds of running in place or outside sprinting, jump roping or shadow boxing.  Today you could do jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, etc.

3)  Body Sculpting - Being yoked is strength perceived which is strength achieved.  Dolph does 15 reps of squats with different feet placement with little rest between sets followed by lunges then push ups with five different hand positions.  Abs and lower back are worked with a variety of crunches, leg lifts, twists and hyper extensions.
4)  Stretching - Get that lactic acid, outta my muscles!  AKA Dolph in a white leotard with a bunch of chicks stretching.  Allegedly the park they're in was the site of Quentin Tarantino's first Production Assistant job.  Legend has it the director frequented the video store QT worked at and offered him the gig.  Further myth recites that his job was to clean up dog poo and he quit.
5)  Stress Management - Putting the hit on the silent killer.  Dolph helps you chill out.

This was probably a very popular video at the time with many demographics.  There's a lot of shirtless, tanned and toned Dolph stretching and bending over for the boys and girls while the workout itself is pretty intense for any nay-saying gym rats.  Today I found myself spontaneously jumping into the lower and upper body workouts as well as abs.  The moves are basic but worthy; squats and lunges for legs, push ups using five hand positions for chest and several crunch and leg lift exercises for abs.  The pace is pretty fast so the burn builds quick.  The soundtrack is also that great 80's rock synth so you just feel like moving.

Since the video only has you doing push ups to cut down on need for equipment, I threw in 4 sets of chin ups with 10 seconds rest between sets to work the back, biceps and shoulders.  Wow, my biceps and lats started to spasm a couple sets in!  Then it was 3 sets of bench dips for triceps with 10 seconds rest in between followed by 3 sets of face pulls to work the bi's.

15 minutes of jump rope and I called it a day.  A little stretching and cool down followed and my Sunday workout with Dolph was complete.  Like the big man himself, I took a few minutes to run through my mantra, find positive affirmations and center myself for the start of a new week.

Getting in shape may seem like a daunting task but if you educate yourself, experiment with workouts and make fitness a habit, it will happen, I guarantee.  Jean-Claude Van Damme wasn't built in a day and neither will you be.

Until then, keep pouring apple juice on your cereal and training hard.