January 14, 1951
New York, New York, United States
Sheldon Lettich worked for several years as a photographer and spent time in the United States Marine Corps before turning his attention to filmmaking and writing. One of his first writing efforts, the Vietnam-inspired play "Tracers," garnered critical acclaim and was performed by several notable theater troupes, including the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theater. His first screenplay, the low-budget action horror film "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except," was released in 1985 and has since became a cult classic due to its tongue-in-cheek dialogue and noteworthy contributions from director Sam Raimi and B-movie actor Bruce Campbell. Lettich next co-wrote the Cold War drama "Russkies," about three young military kids who discover a missing Russian intelligence agent. His next film, the action drama "Bloodsport," proved to be a major turning point in his career; Jean-Claude Van Damme, who portrayed the real-life martial arts master Frank Dux, won critical praise for his martial arts abilities, and the film's success led to Lettich's role as co-writer on the Sylvester Stallone action film "Rambo III." Lettich and Van Damme collaborated on several more films; Lettich directed the Belgian star in the 1990 underground fighting flick "Lionheart" and again in a dual role as long-lost twins in "Double Impact." In 1993, Lettich wrote and directed "Only the Strong," about an ex-Special Forces soldier trained in the Brazilian martial arts style of capoeira, and has also written and produced the action film "Legionnaire," which stars Van Damme as a French Foreign Legion soldier on the run.