Skin Trade is a movie we want to see for pure spectacle alone. Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa and Michael Jai White costar in the action movie, which sets up some amazing fights. The film has a real message though. It is a crime drama about human trafficking, something which Lundgren is involved with fighting in real life too.
I got to speak with Lundgren on the phone last week about Skin Trade, in which he not only stars but also wrote and produced. We also spoke about his other collaboration with Jaa, and prospects for The Expendables 4. Skin Trade is now available on VOD and opens in theaters Friday, May 8.
Nuke the Fridge: You had many roles in Skin Trade including producing and writing. Tell us about taking on those duties.
Dolph Lundgren: Well, it’s the first time I’ve done this on a bigger movie. I’ve directed some small movies, I wrote a couple of them. It was a good experience. It was a learning experience of how to get a film made, what to do and what not to do. That’s how I look at it. I wrote the script many years ago with some partners. I never thought it was going to get made. Then finally I found some financing in Southeast Asia so I had to adapt it to Southeast Asia and then try to see it through as best as I could. Like I said, it’s a tough game but I learned a lot.
Nuke: Where was it set before?
Dolph Lundgren: It was set in Russia. It was set in Moscow as a matter of fact. I was over there scouting for a while and talking financing. This was about seven, eight years ago.
Nuke: Why was this story so close to you personally?
Dolph Lundgren: Well, one is because it was my idea originally. As I worked on the script and started getting ready for production, I started doing more research on human trafficking and was appalled by the numbers. The millions of people who are in slavery and what’s being done to them, how they’re treated. There’s more international cooperation now but there’s been very little effort made as opposed to drug trafficking or arms trafficking. I got involved in it emotionally before the film. Then during production when I had to portray a character whose daughter is being trafficked, he encounters a lot of girls that have been trafficked, I have two daughters myself and I use them a lot for substitution just to try to get into that moment.
I don’t know, it just hit me on a deep level that this is wrong and I want to help. So I’m involved with fighting human trafficking right now. I started getting involved with some organizations here in L.A. and hopefully I will keep doing that for much longer than this film will be around.
Nuke: What organizations could our readers look up and get involved if they want to help?
Dolph Lundgren: On my Facebook, there is a lot of information about it. There’s one organization called CAST LA, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. That’s a good one. They’re involved in pretty much saving trafficking victims and bringing them back to society with training and legal help and getting their visas and so forth, putting them back out in the world. There’s another one called Polaris, that’s a big one. That’s a good place to start.
Nuke: Was a lot of the schedule devoted to the fight scene between you and Tony Jaa?
Dolph Lundgren: Yes, some of it. It was about a week for that.
Nuke: Is that a week on the set shooting it, or does that include rehearsal and choreography?
Dolph Lundgren: Two weeks rehearsal. As a matter of fact, they had designed that fight scene between me and Tony for two months, but I wasn’t happy with it so I redid it about two weeks before we started shooting. Me and Tony redid it and we shot it over I think five nights.
Nuke: How are the martial arts that you and Tony practice compatible for a fight scene?
Dolph Lundgren: Tony’s style is very acrobatic and fantastical, entertaining jumping up the walls, backflips. He’s a little smaller than me. I come from kickboxing and full contact karate where it’s more power. It’s more one or two moves and your opponent’s hopefully down, but it makes it a little difficult to design a fight scene. It’s interesting because the styles are different but they come from different sides of the spectrum. It was fun to work with him. I worked with Jet Li, I worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sly Stallone, so I’m kind of adaptable.
Nuke: How long did you have for the chase around Thailand?
Dolph Lundgren: Well, that took a little longer. I think that was shot five or six days first unit, and maybe a week of second unit. Some of it was built and some were just these real market streets where people were buying their fruits and produce.
Nuke: There’s a scene where you walk away from an explosion. You’ve done that before, right?
Dolph Lundgren: Exactly, I think I taught that class. Walking Away from an Explosion 101.
Nuke: Was it complicated to put the scar on your face every day?
Dolph Lundgren: It was. That was complicated. We had a guy from Hong Kong who was pretty good and really professional but it took about 40 minutes. I’ve done worse. I did a movie in Italy where I had to put a wig on and a false beard where they lay it on me for two or three hours and it itches all day. That was worse.
Nuke: What is the other film you did with Tony Jaa?
Dolph Lundgren: I did a little part. That’s how I met him. I did a small part in a Thai movie about three years ago which hasn’t come out yet. It’s a Thai language picture and it’s a comedy. I was around that area and I decided to do a couple days in that movie. Then I ran into Tony and I met some people that wanted to put up money for another project with me and Tony. That’s when I thought wait a second, I’ve got this script that’s been sitting there for almost 10 years called Skin Tade and it was set in Moscow. So I rewrote it for Bangkok in like three days. They were interested, so I got it made.
Nuke: So we might never see that other movie at this point?
Dolph Lundgren: I don’t know if you’ll see it or not. I haven’t seen it. It’s a Thai action comedy. It’s very different. Their language of film there is very fantastical, like anything is possible. There’s no gravity. You can jump off a motorcycle up onto the roof in half a second, so I’d like to see it.
Nuke: What do you hear about an Expendables 4?
Dolph Lundgren: Not much. I was actually texting with Sly yesterday but I didn’t ask him. I haven’t had a chance because I was in Australia and just got back two days ago, but I’ll find out. I haven’t heard anything but I gather, if I know him right, that he loves sequels. I think there’s another one probably. I don’t think he’ll end at three.
Nuke: I hope so, but I also know he’s got Creed and Rambo to do first.
Dolph Lundgren: Yeah, I think so. The third one, because of the piracy and the fact that it was PG-13, I don’t think it was such a good idea. I think people wanted the hard R kind of movie. That’s why it did well originally. I’m sure next time they’ll go back to the original idea a little more.