Mention the name Jean-Claude Van Damme and it makes one think of Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. The image of a spinning 360 degree head kick also springs to mind. The “muscles from Brussels” has been proving that you are never too old for a comeback. To take it one step further, he has also shown that you are never too old to have a viral video.
With The Expendables 2 opening across the UK in August this year, with bigger roles for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and with the news that The Expendables 3 will soon start filming, I’ve decided to take another look at the film that started it all.
The hook or draw, if you prefer, was the presence in one film of a lot of tough guy actors from the 80’s and 90’s, famous for playing action-type heroes or bigger than life characters.
The list was long. Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, as well as relative newcomers Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews and of course Arnold and Bruce (in uncredited cameos).
The token females were Charisma Carpenter (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel), in what has got to be the worlds shortest cameo, as Stratham’s wishy-washy girlfriend and Giselle Itié is the “love interest” for Stallone’s character.
Stallone and his buddies are mercenaries who, at the start of the film, are rescuing hostages from some Somali pirates. It is a short scene, designed to show us, the audience, how the group dynamic works and who is really in charge. It also shows us that Dolph Lundgren’s character is not playing with a full deck.
In rapid succession we find that: Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren) is off the team, Lee Christmas (Statham) finds out his girlfriend, now isn’t, and Barney Ross (Stallone) is unhappy with the way his life is going. We also get to meet Tool (Mickey Rourke) the groups tattooist. *on a side note – what a cool name for a character…Tool, just had to mention it.*
The guys get hired by Mr Church (Willis) and Ross finds out that his only competition for the job, Trench (Arnie) doesn’t want the job. The group vote on whether to accept the job and Ross and Christmas decide a fact finding mission is in order.This is not a film with great depth or hidden meanings What it does, it does very well. It is an “old fashioned” buddy/action/blockbuster film.
The Expendables is a great big ‘romp’ of a film. It features enough explosions and gunfire to start and win a war in most third world countries. It never at any time takes itself too seriously and it gives us bad guys (Eric Roberts as the supreme bad-ass we love to hate) who are really bad and his underlings are easy to despise.
Of course the cast list gives us enough bulging muscle that everyone appears to have been vaccinated with steroids at birth. At no time in the film do you ever need to ask, “Where’s the beef?”
But like I said, it is ‘old-fashioned’ the bad guys wear metaphorical black hats, and the good guys with their metaphorical white hats ride in to save the day.
The one disappointment for me was that we didn’t get to see a lot of Jet Li. I am a huge fan, but to be honest, I was not really surprised to see how little he got to do. Hollywood has never really known what to do with Li and it carries over into this film.
I also missed seeing some of the other “80’s and 90’s action men” but that appears to be taken care of in the cast list of The Expendables 2. The second ‘Expendables’ (in what is apparently becoming a series) will include Jean-Claude Van Damme , as well as Chuck Norris.
Charisma Carpenter is coming back for the ride and we can only hope she gets a little more screen time in this one.
- THE EXPENDABLES 2 – Epically Action Packed Trailer! (geektyrant.com)
- New Images from THE EXPENDABLES 2 Featuring Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone (collider.com)
- The ‘Expendables 2′ Full Trailer Is Out, Even More Ridiculous Than You Imagined It Could Be (screencrave.com)
- Big Budget Bonanaza: The Expendables Two (moviesfilmsandflix.com)
- Testosterone Overdrive In Action Packed Extended THE EXPENDABLES 2 TV Spot (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Randy Couture & Chuck Norris? Yeah, That’s Right (mmaweekly.com)
- Arnie’s BACK in Expendables sequel (thesun.co.uk)
- Sylvester Stallone ‘Ups The Ante’ In ‘Expendables 2’ (mtv.com)