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To me, The Expendables movies are fantastic. Over-the-top action films in the vein of 1980s classics had all but died out, limited to the archive of that decade’s finest genre movies. Then Stallone came along and said “hrmmph hrm hrm mph mphm hmmmmmm ranmhnhmnh mmmpphhhhh” (Translation: “Fuck it, I’m going to make more ridiculous action films”)

sylvester stallone

“hrmmph hrm hrm mph mphm hmmmmmm ranmhnhmnh mmmpphhhhh”

These films let action fanboys like me re-live our youth, watching Arnie, Willis, Stallone, Noris, and other legendary action stars shot bad guys with big guns, blow up pretty much everything blow-upable, drive vehicles into things and generally cause as much havoc as the budget will allow. But there’s one crucial element missing from these films… they only focus on the good guys.

The 80s action era was the perfect breeding ground for some of cinema’s most dastardly, evil and often ridiculous bad guys, mega-villains and henchmen.

Bolo Yeung Double Impact Bloodsport Enter the dragonBolo Yeung: this guy is my favourite baddie ever. He’s menacing, he’s ruthless, never plays fair, and best of all, he has a huge physical presence and one of those faces that he can make look so, so evil.

Alan Rickman Hans Gruber Die HardAlan Rickman: respected thesp and hands down one of the best actors still around, yet was he ever really as good (or memorable) as the German terrorist Hans Gruber?

Mr Joshua Gary Busey Lethal WeaponGary Busey: that rubber face, that crazy blonde ‘haircut’, that shit-eating grin, those wildly colourful shirts… Gary Busey was born to play bad-guys.

Ivan Drago Dolph Lundgren Rocky 4Dolph Lundgren: sure, he’s OK as a good guy in the films at the moment – but he’s got a face that looks like he’s been pillaging random Asian villages for the past 30 years.

Clarence Boddicker Kurtwood Smith Robocop Kurtwood Smith: pretty much famous for playing the nasty and crazy Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, but what a villain he was. Outrageous, and would love to even see a glimmer of something like this again.

Vernon Wells Bennett commandoVernon Wells: again, a one-trick pony, but Bennett from Commando is the ultimate in camp-classic baddie – a ridiculously out-of-shape guy with a chainmail vest that was supposed to be John Matrix’s equal! LOLZ!

So far, as someone who still gets warm, nostalgic and starstruck seeing the biggest names in action cinema literally coming out of retirement, the only way that this franchise could be any better would be with a stronger emphasis on the bad guys.

Nicolas Cage, Jackie Chan, Mickey Rourke all confirmed, and Statham, Eastwood, Snipes, Harrison Ford & Mel Gibson all rumoured to be in talks, the cast is looking stellar – throw in a couple of the guys mentioned above and it could become the greatest movie of all time!

Expendables Review

Expendables 2 Review

The Expendables 2: when they’re ambushed during a simple job the team have to avenge a fallen comrade… and shoot the crap out of anything that gets in their way. First off, the costume department deserve a medal; these guys are going in to action with cardigans, wooly jumpers, trench coats, French berets, designer jeans, cashmere scarves – they’re the most metrosexual mercenaries on the planet! The action is a whole other level of ace… blood, guts, explosions, limbs flying, heads exploding, bullet-riddled bodies dropping everywhere – only downside is that everything from the weapons to entire set pieces feel like copy/paste jobs from recent Call of Duty games. The majority of the runtime is like eating a cheese sandwich, made with cheesy bread whilst drinking mozzarella brine, but in a totally knowing, tongue in cheek fashion – like Willis and Arnie mocking each others characters and catchphrases. Lundgren should be singled out as a great sport, being the butt of almost every scene & joke. My only real petty concern is that there’s only one big/famous baddie – and considering some of the iconic action villains over the years, it’s the only thing they could really have done with upping. Having a real director makes such a big difference – everything is improved, although the comic timing is so far out that it’s embarrassing to watch (but does help add to the cheese-effect). The Expendables is essentially the male equivalent of Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve – an ensemble of big names that puts an entire demographic’s bums on seats, and where everything else is secondary. In saying that, there’s still something inherently satisfying and watchable about seeing Willis / Arnie / Norris and co firing big guns at things. Expendables 2 is a highly enjoyable Action/Comedy romp – it’ll be difficult to top.

Score: 9/10