LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1987-1988) (unproduced)

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LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1987-1988) (unproduced)

Postby Jox on 10 Nov 2015, 22:44

Another aborted project was also called LEGION, but nothing to do with the Damian Lee one.

It was developed around 1988 for the late company Vestron Pictures, written by Alan McElroy (SPAWN, WRONG TURN) and to be directed by Dwight H. Little (MARKED FOR DEATH, RAPID FIRE) after they had done HALLOWEEN IV together. I think this could have been made around the time of RED SCORPION and THE PUNISHER.

The plot was as follows according to writer McElroy:
"A former cop who has fallen off the grid after a tragedy ruined his life. He's then tracked down and recruited by his former boss at the LAPD to help them find a rogue CIA agent, codenamed Legion, who appears to be on a killing spree."


At some point the title was changed to GUNNER (not Gunnar!) because that was the character's nickname. It never got to actual pre-production because when Vestron got another management, the project was abandoned... until it was reshaped many years later and turned into the Antonio Banderas vehicle BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER (2002) (produced by Franchise Pictures)!
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1988) (unproduced)

Postby dude hallenbeck on 11 Nov 2015, 01:29

Ballistic is a notorious bad film. I'd imagine it still would've gotten bad reviews in the early 1990s but I think it would've had more merit than what we eventually got.
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1988) (unproduced)

Postby Jox on 11 Nov 2015, 02:00

it's hard to tell how it would have been, had they made it in the late 80s. You can imagine as often in those cases that after almost 15 years of development hell and probably a dozen uncredited rewriters, the final product must have become worse and worse as they tried to make it "cooler" and more "modern", with not much to do with the spirit of the original project.
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1988) (unproduced)

Postby Krom on 12 Nov 2015, 21:24

Every Dolph movie made in the 80s early 90s would have been gold for us, except a Cover Up type of movie!
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1988) (unproduced)

Postby Gunner on 24 Jan 2019, 03:08

Jox wrote:it's hard to tell how it would have been, had they made it in the late 80s. You can imagine as often in those cases that after almost 15 years of development hell and probably a dozen uncredited rewriters, the final product must have become worse and worse as they tried to make it "cooler" and more "modern", with not much to do with the spirit of the original project.


In this interview with director Wych Kaosayananda, he explains in some good details what happened to Ballistic and his problems with the studio interference on that film, and he also mentions Alan McElroy's script, how it was changed during production, and that the writer who was brought in by studio to re-write it and ended up "watering it down" was Peter Lenkov. So it's true, the movie which did get made and was released is not the same as what Dolph's version of it would have been;

https://filmcombatsyndicate.com/ballist ... -with-wyc/

Lenkov was also the one who wrote original version of Demolition Man script, back when Van Damme and Seagal were involved in it and when it was going to be much more serious film.

Too bad that McElroy's original Legion/Gunner spec is not available to read. He was actually a very good screenwriter back in those years, and has some interesting history when it comes to scripts he worked on. He is probably most well known for Halloween 4 and his work on Spawn, but not many people know that he also wrote some interesting unproduced scripts, like the very first script for Resident Evil movie, or one of the earlier versions of Die Hard 4 which would take place in jungle.
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1987-1988) (unproduce

Postby Jox on 24 Jan 2019, 23:05

Thanks for the interview!

Not too surprised what he went through with Franchise and Elie Samaha though.

For sure the initial script dated from 1986-87 and even before those production rewrites even McElroy's would have been revised by the early 2000s...
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1987-1988) (unproduce

Postby Jox on 22 Oct 2021, 18:31

According to Wikipedia:
McElroy's script was left unproduced until about 1999 when it was picked up for production again, but this time with new title, Ecks vs. Sever. Originally the film was intended to star Wesley Snipes and Jet Li, and then after them Sylvester Stallone and Vin Diesel were going to star. After director and cast were finally chosen in pre-production, McElroy's script was completely re-written by Peter M. Lenkov. Main reasons for re-writes included way too big and expensive action sequences, and more serious, darker and grittier tone and the story of McElroy's original script focusing more on themes of family love and loss and revenge. Entire subplot about nano technology was one of the things which were added to make the film more like The Matrix (1999). Sever was also changed from male into a female character. Despite him re-writing the entire script, Lenkov was not credited in the final film, and McElroy ended up getting only writing credit, despite very little similarities between his original script and Lenkov's re-write.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic:_Ecks_vs._Sever
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1987-1988) (unproduce

Postby Gunner on 25 Oct 2021, 19:59

I can confirm this to you Jox. Some months ago friend of mine got me a draft of McElroy's script. While it was not the original spec, this revised draft (dated 1999) could be very similar to it just based on what we know about spec. Obviously it was "modernized" for late 90's (technology and usual stuff), and the names of two main characters are Ecks and Sever, and not Gunner and Legion. From what i could tell, this draft was the one which was going to be used for Snipes vs Li or Stallone vs Diesel versions of the film.

Sever is still a male character, action is definitely BIGGER (seems like there's always some helicopters or buildings exploding in half of the action scenes), there is more violence and the script does have a decently gritty tone but what i really liked about it is how much better the story and characters are written compared to the final film. And yes, the plot is only about Sever kidnapping Ecks's son and wanting revenge against government who betrayed him and killed his own family, there's none of the nano-technology bullshit which Lenkov and studio added. If they had bigger budget and bigger stars, and went with this script, i think the film would have been much better and maybe even a decent hit, but that's just me.

Btw Jox, in Legion's Development Hell page, you included piece of interview with Dwight H. Little in which he talked about another unproduced film, Future Perfect. In case if you're interested, Pizowell interviewed Little recently, and he talked about most of his projects, including some unproduced ones like that one (1:03:34 and another one at 1:01:18 by Michael Miner, writer of original Robocop);



He also mentioned some cancelled movie in which Wesley Snipes and Jean Claude Van Damme were supposed to star in before something happened and they left the production after sets were already build in Morocco (1:21:35). He's talking about Sandblast, sort of Broken Arrow (1996) like action film where Snipes would play explosives expert who along with team of commandos is searching for lost nuclear warheads in Iraq wastelands, while dealing with heavy sandstorm and team of evil Green Berets which would have been lead by Van Damme's character. I read that was the reason why the film was cancelled, because Van Damme didn't want to play the main villain and then get killed in the end by Snipes, and because Warner Bros didn't want to make the film without both of them in it (Eddie Murphy was also originally cast in lead role but he left and Snipes was his replacement).

I know this is a Dolph fan site but i figured, you might find this interesting. You can find more articles about Sandblast from 1993 (when original spec was first sold) and between 1995 and 1996 (when the film was in production). It sounded like it would have been fun film to see, and come on, Snipes vs Van Damme?
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Re: LEGION / GUNNER (Dwight H. Little, 1987-1988) (unproduce

Postby Jox on 25 Oct 2021, 20:26

Thanks a lot for all the infos!
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