“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Adkins honored with star on Hollywood Wa– oh wait, no, Expendables 2 poster

tn_e2adkinscountdown2disappointmentOur boy Scott Adkins got dissed recently when they put out a set of character posters for this summer’s EXPENDABLES 2: YOU’RE EXCITED EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW BETTER. Even Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu got their own posters, but not Boyka (who apparently plays Van Damme’s knife-expert henchman Hector).

I guess we weren’t the only ones that noticed, because (as reported a couple days ago on Twitch) Lionsgate has now released an Adkins as Hector poster.

So here’s the poster:

mp_e2adkins

and I’m sure you’ve all seen the new trailer:

I know some of you wanted a place to discuss that. I don’t have time right now to go through shot by shot like I did on the teaser, but a couple points:

1.  Action doesn’t look shaky from what they show
2. Did Statham mention to Stallone that he already did that finger gun gag in CRANK? (or maybe CRANK 2, I can’t remember)
3. I like the ridiculous “man and knife” line, but I think we can all agree it would work better if Arnold said it
4. Still not enough Couture
5. I’m glad they figured out that it was important for the names to be made out of metal and for them to be slammed onto the screen with a loud clank
6. Probly the most heavily armed movie logo of all time
7. Kind of disappointing that the logo doesn’t explode and send shrapnel, mortally wounding other trailers

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

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131 Responses to “Adkins honored with star on Hollywood Wa– oh wait, no, Expendables 2 poster”

  1. Well better late than never on the Adkins-poster deal. He’s a DTV star dammit, and more legitimate to the action world than Thor’s cute kid brother.

    Off-topic, but how long before Hollywood gets the brilliant idea to join the Hemsworth boys in their own movie?

    I got an idea: MEN AT WORK remake.

  2. Darth Irritable

    May 10th, 2012 at 12:07 am

    No shaky cam, but looked like a lot of post-action quick editing. It’s sad when a return to the editing style of Armageddon is a welcome relief from the trainwreck that is modern cinema.

    It *is* a trailer though, so maybe the editing is just for that, and the movie itself won’t have it. Either way, I dug the first, I’m in for this.

    Hemsworth must have the fastest trigger finger in history to knock off that many shots so quick with a sniper rifle. Wonder what he’s been doing to train it…

  3. About Hemsworth’s trigger finger, he did appear to be using a semi-auto rifle, not a bolt action. And with a semi-auto with a light trigger pull it is possible to shoot that fast without *too* much trouble. Now, actually acquiring targets that fast with a full size rifle(meaning less maneuverability), through a scope, no less, and compensating for the recoil…that’s the part that’s just a tad harder to believe. And if I’m right, that rifle LOOKS like a Barrett .50 rifle, which is definitely NOT a weapon meant for rapid fire and rapid target acquisition…

  4. I always thought the finger gun gag originated in THE LOSERS.

  5. There was also a similar gag like that in THE LOSERS.
    EX2 is also the subject of the latest comedic Orange cinema tie-in ad, featuring a crossover that will mean absolutely nothing to anyone from outside the UK:
    http://youtu.be/FFsofDIpOz0

  6. I love number 7. EDITORS! Let’s make this happen…

  7. RRA, what about a remake of The Barbarian Brothers?

  8. I understood from Adkins’ facebook page that he’s not in the movie much and he has only one fight… but it’s against Statham. That to me already sounds like EX2 is going to be worth the price of admission.

    Then again, they managed to fuck up Lundgren vs Li in the first one and that is just a sin against mankind.

    Any news on the rating? No? Didn’t think so. Prometheus got a confirmation on its rating only this week and it’s coming out within a month.

  9. Jose Hernandez

    May 10th, 2012 at 3:03 am

    So the guy is a knife expert but his poster have him holding a gun?

  10. The Finger Gun gag was originated in Real Men starring Jim Belushi and John Ritter. An underrated classic.

  11. Knox Harrington

    May 10th, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Gotta admit, that new trailer got me excited. I’m now at the stage where I seriously doubt that this will disappoint any more than the first film did. Gonna set my cynicism aside and hope for the best.

    As for the finger gun trick, no idea where it originated, but the one in THE LOSERS is definitely my favourite. Damn, I got a soft spot for that movie.

  12. I know I am a broken-record doomster on these movies. I had really high hopes for the first one but became uneasy when the trailer was dark, quick-cutty and sucky. The film itself feels like mediocre DTV w/ a slightly better budget for explosions. As big as the budget is, it must be all on cast b/c the production values are so-so. A film like this should be so much better. Just more fun.

    This trailer really doesn’t look any better. Van Damme’s little blurb about plutonium is so odd an idiosynctratic…it just doesn’t belong in the trailer. The ziplining into the woods…so underwhelming. I know it’s a nitpick, but its symptomatic of the shoddiness. A trailer is your fricking best foot forward.

  13. Rocky Balboa, Rambo, and Cop Land were all so much better than Expendables. UniSol:Regeneration was better. Heck, I think Get Carter was better than Expendables.

  14. Adkins Vs. Statham is why they have my money. I just hope Simon West didn’t drop the ball on that one.

  15. Well that and Arnold and Bruce drive by shooting in a smart car. Pretty inspired.

  16. I will give points for the smart car and the “gun and knife” line.

    And I’ll give Broddie extra points for the Bill Duke avatar. You know you done f%cked up, now.

  17. Continental Op

    May 10th, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Is it wrong that the only Chuck Norris film I’ve seen is “Way of the Dragon”?

  18. Eh. It’s not the worst movie crime. I say you can get by with just INVASION U.S.A, MISSING IN ACTION 2, and SILENT RAGE. CODE OF SILENCE is probably the closest he ever came to making a “good” movie, but is that really what you want out of Chuck?

  19. Actually, you should probably check out THE OCTAGON, if only for the hilarious inner monologue. Turns out the inside of Chuck Norris’ head is just as echoey as you assumed it would be.

  20. Continental Op

    May 10th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Invasion USA does sound like if John Milius had a learning difficulty but still got to make films, so I reckon that would be my first port of call….

  21. Continental Op

    May 10th, 2012 at 8:45 am

    “The Octagon”. I hope that’s his character’s codename….

  22. Sadly, no. It’s the place where the karate happens.

    If you’re not sold on INVASION U.S.A, I offer you this image:

    http://media.techworld.com/cmsdata/news/3213248/chucknorris.jpg

    If that doesn’t convince you then I’m afraid you are truly lost, my friend.

  23. See, this is what I’m talking about. You can see the level of crafstmanship in how they lovingly oiled Chuck’s chest. I’m sure several unwilling minions gave their lives in the act.

  24. Continental Op

    May 10th, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Sweet mother of…..It’s what a Springsteen album cover would look like if he was a raging arsehole. I love it.

  25. If you’re curious I’ll save you the trouble of seeing THE HERO AND THE TERROR I’ll just copy and paste the summary from imdb:

    “Danny O’Brien is a cop trying to apprehend the notorious Simon Moon, also known as The Terror. Three years earlier O’Brien captured The Terror and was called Hero by the citizens of Los Angeles. Simon has escaped and has started killing women again, and O’Brien has to capture the Terror again.”

    That’s exactly what happens, and it’s every bit as exciting as that paragraph makes it seem.

    As far as Expendables 2, I think it might be slightly more ok than the slightly less than ok first one so onward and upward I guess. My impossible dream is that maybe someday we get a buddy action film with Terry Crews and Randy Couture.

  26. The only Norris movie that really holds up after all these years is Lone Wolf McQuade, and that’s mostly because it’s written by John Milius and has Barbara Carrera, David Carradine and LQ Jones to help Chuck out with the acting parts. No inner monologue, but a lot of turn kicks. Which doesn’t hurt.

  27. Judging by all of your comments above, his films are at least….interesting sounding.

  28. Silent rage was pretty cool. I though MIA 2 was good. Haven’t seen either in well over 15 years, though, so would not be surprised if re-watching them is an MST3K-quality experience.

  29. Funny you should mention Silent Rage, skani. As the first movie in what I like to call Chuck’s “Stetson trilogy” (the others being Forced Vengeance and Lone Wolf McQuade) it sort of fooled us into thinking that he very well could be the next Clint Eastwood. But then his reactionary politics got in the way and he started running around in the Philiphines with a big gun pretending it was Vietnam and that he was correcting history all by himself.

  30. Am I right in recalling Invasion USA as the first movie to glorify using uzi’s at once? I’m sure that was its of the ‘cool’ points. I could be misremebering, but I think it even went one better also pioneering 2 bazooka’s at once (which didn’t catch on like the uzi’s). Havn’t watched it since I was 12 years old.

  31. Clint did the two machine guns trick back in ’68, and it has never been bettered. He does the two revolvers trick in Outlaw – Josey Wales, but is out-cooled by yun-fat Chow in that department in almost every movie The Fatman did between ’86 and ’92.

  32. Knox Harrington

    May 10th, 2012 at 11:47 am

    The uzi is such an 80’s weapon. Wish it would make a comeback.

    Also, nunchucks.

  33. Twin Uzis…

    Nunchucks…

    Uzichucks.

    It must be done.

  34. Stetson Trilogy. Epic. I want the branded box set. :)

  35. Hey, Vern. Are you going to review GET THE GRINGO?

    Saw that recently. It’s unfortunate that it’ll probably get a lot of flak because of Mel’s personal life, but it’s actually a terrific fucking movie. They basically made PAYBACK 2.

  36. Mr M — don’t you mean Nunchuzis?

    As for the trailer, I must admit it looks more visually comprehensible than almost any given 5 seconds of the previous one. I like Van Damme’s convincing villainous look. But jeez, they just keep piling guys on here. My biggest beef with the first one (even more than the lackluster action) is that for a huge team-up movie they play down most of the expendables in favor of mostly Statham and Stallone. Now that Whedon has set the standard for what a effectively balanced team effort looks like, I don’t want another awkward script that doesn’t know what to do with most of its badasses and simply thinks if they’re all in the poster we’ll be happy.

  37. Uzichuck: badass yet impractical weapon, or supporting character from and 80’s teen sex comedy?

    You make the call.

  38. HT – I’ll review it as soon as I can see it. I gotta be honest, I don’t know how this VOD thing works, and my cable is pretty shitty… maybe I need to upgrade.

  39. Was GET THE GRINGO always called that over there? I seem recall it being referred to by it’s UK title HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION around these parts. It’s still coming out in cinemas here, incidentally.

  40. I like Amazon On Demand for VOD titles. I can get it on my tv but it’s also on Ps3 and Xbox.

  41. GET THE GRINGO is actually getting a July Theatrical release here in Singapore.

  42. Not even on the poster he shows attitude. I’m sorry but this guy has zero charisma and it’s pretty obvious why he doesn’t land better roles. Not trolling.

  43. skani that, everything you stated is spot on. Jean’s dialog is generic dribble that doesn’t mesh well with the rest of it. It’s all over the place. All that being said, this will still be better than the first one.

    Know why, getting Sly the fuck away from a camera. Now, if they go the same route w/ Sly and Jason being the main guys, w/ the others being background that will be a shame. I have a feeling that’s the case though. Like Mission Impossible, it works best as a team sport. Cruise had too much ego after the first one and it all had to be about him.

    Bad feeling it will be the same in this one but it will still be better than that shitfest part one. And it will most certainly miss Mickie R. but as I say, mark it down it will be better than the first one.

  44. Merso – which Scott Adkins movies have you seen? I’ll be surprised if you’ve seen Undisputed 2 and 3 and think he has no charisma. Admittedly, I like him better playing Russian.

  45. Mike A.— Thanks for the info. courtesy of Adkins’ Facebook page, but that news of his scarce appearance in The Expendables 2 kinda channeled my inner Animal House Belushi rage (as the cops are emptying Delta House of all their goodies): “Goddamnsonofabitchjerkoffassholes!”. It sounds too much like Adkins’ “don’t blink or you’ll miss him” role in The Bourne Ultimatum. He wasn’t there to make a badass impression unto himself; he was there as a badass to make Matt Damon’s character look THAT much tougher for offing him. Most likely his fight with Statham in TE2 will serve the same misguided purpose.

    The more time passes, the more I think Isaac Florentine is the modern film director version of the Prophet Elijah as far as Adkins’ talents go. He’s the only one who GETS Adkins, but (regretfully) he can push the envelope only so far. I can only hope Kathyrn Bigelow will suss out his full potential in Zero Dark Thirty. She kickstarted both Keanu Reeves and Jeremy Renner as action heroes. No reason she can’t do the same for Adkins [fingers crossed].

  46. P.S.—

    Vern— Please, PLEASE seek out and review Chronicle when it hits DVD on May 15th.

    It’s, ummmm, a coming-of-age teen psuedo-comedy that morphs into a superhero origin movie, without actually exploring the superhero aspect, encapsulated in the “found footage” genre. I know how weird that sounds, but it’s remarkably well-executed. Plus it’s set in Seattle.

    One HELL of a movie for one on such a small scale.

  47. Larry – You’re probably right but I was thinking, both Statham and Adkins’ characters are supposed to be knife experts, right? That could be kind of cool, if they have a badass knife fight. I just hope the films R-rated so it can end with Statham stabbing Adkins in the head and then ramming his head through a control panel.

    Also, to be honest I never expected anything more substantial from his role. Look at the way Steve Austin and Gary Daniels were used in the first one. They were mostly just standing in the background until it was time for them to get killed.

  48. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Chronicle: set in Seattle, shot in Cape Town.

    It’s amazing how many cool movies are being made in my beloved home town these days. We housed Death Race 2 and Death Race: Inferno, the new Judge Dredd, Invictus, Doomsday, Safe House, and we’ll be shooting the new Mad Max here (and in Namibia, obviously). So amped about that movie.

    I guess by now The Expendables 3 is inevitable. Would be pretty neat if they got a different director for each installment, like Mission Impossible does. Is it too late for John McTiernan to make a comeback?

  49. Knox— Chronicle was shot in Cape Town (South Africa), Vancouver (British Columbia), and Seattle (Washington). Give credit where credit’s due, mate. It’s set in: Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Tukwila… all Washington state. That was my impression (I live in Western WA). Damn sharp movie just the same.

    We’re not likely to see McTiernan back in the director’s chair, unless he wants to helm “My Dinner With Tricky Dick”, and do a seance movie in which he and former President Nixon discuss their misadventures in wiretapping over New York steaks, baked potatoes, and asparagus.

  50. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Yeah, I wasn’t really trying to take credit away from anyone/place. I was just talking about Cape Town’s popularity as a shooting location and as a double for other American and European settings.

    Anyway, this is the Expendables talkback.

    There aren’t a lot of modern action directors that I have a lot of faith in, especially when it comes to making “old-school” action flicks like The Expendables. What’s that guy who made Shoot ‘Em Up up to these days? He’d be interesting.

  51. Éven though I have no fond memories of HELLBOUND, at least Chuck karate-kicks the devil in that one.

  52. “Kind of disappointing that the logo doesn’t explode and send shrapnel, mortally wounding other trailers”

    Thank goodness for unexpected subtleries and small mercies, that’s what i say.

    I saw the trailer, and it made me laugh. I have no nostalgia for the 80s actionfiest, but this trailer delivered. The best laugh came cortesy of Arnold Schwazenegger, when he hops with Bruce Willis into a Smart car and quips “this car is smaller then my shoe”. It made me bend with laughter.

    The funny thing is that small car (which is a Smart, own by a co-joint deal between Smart Watches and Mercedes-Benz and build by Mercedes), though it’s quite a small car seen form the outside, but inside is quite spacious. I once seated inside one, and i have been more crammed in bigger cars then the little Smart. No, really, inside a smart you have enough space to shoot out a big gun confortably. I’m suprised nobody has militarized it yet.

  53. ShootMcKay, it was an actor. It was not real.

  54. Knox Harrington

    May 11th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Wait a sec.

    There’s a movie in which Chuck Norris karate-kicks the devil?

    My life is now complete.

  55. Knox – but kowing Chuck Norris and most of his movies, I’m pretty sure said devil-kicking movie sucks.

    Really I can name off the top of my head 3 good Norris movies IMO: Lone Wolf McQuade, Code of Silence, and Invasion USA.

    And Invasion USA gets my vote if just for that scene with the villain and the coke-snorting hooker.

  56. Richard Lynch is an awesome villain. He was also great in TRANCERS 3.

  57. I rented HELLBOUND when it came out because it was “Chuck Norris Vs. Satan”. It’s been almost 18 years since that time though and I haven’t seen it since. For what it’s worth I remember enjoying it more than END OF DAYS.

  58. No wait, it was TRANCERS 2. Andy Robinson was the baddie in T3.

  59. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 11th, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    “Get the gringo” is good? Ooooh yes.

    I second the praise for “Chronicle”. Did not think it would be a tenth as good as it actually was.

    I do not discuss The Unmentionables 2.

  60. I thought CHRONICLE was bad and not in a good way.

  61. I dug Chronicle, but the main pro-antagonist kid was a little over-the-top with the whole “I’m a tortured, misunderstood, unloved adolescent thing.” Still give it the overall thumbs up.

  62. I really liked CHRONICLE too. I liked their approach to the found footage format, in that it wasn’t really PRESENTED as “found” footage, more like movie where all the perspective comes from recording devices. And for the budget they had, it has some of the best flying effects I’ve ever seen. CHRONICLE also did the finger gun gag, though in its case the character didn’t need someone with a rifle doing the work for him.
    I am concerned though that the sequel(s) they want to do will focus on where the powers came from. I don’t think it’s all that necessary, unless it leads to more people getting powers and an escalation from the first film.

  63. All these Norris movies and no one mentions the sickly sweet, yet underrated Sidekicks.

  64. I think you know the reason for that, ANoniMouse. But seriously people, check out The Stetson trilogy.

  65. Ninja is the one I saw. Maybe I should try the Undisputeds as you suggest. Anyway, love the blog.

  66. Even if he’s English Adkins has that All American look (Ken Wahl, Matt Dillon, Ben Affleck etc.) that can be a bit un-charismatic. He looks a lot tougher with a beard, but he never looks mean.

  67. It’s pretty interesting that Chuck Norris is only one of the big action names of the yesteryear that never was really *that* famous. He never had a mainstream hit or a big franchise, unless you count a long running TV show. Schwarzenegger and Stallone were definitely megastars, but even Van Damme had his HARD TARGET, TIMECOP and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (with Dolph) and Seagal had his UNDER SIEGE.

    Chuck’s filmography is pretty much all low-budget Cannon Group schlock. And unless you count his onscreen fight against Bruce Lee, he isn’t known for his martial arts action scenes. Despite being a karate champ and all that. Probably because the Golan-Globus flicks were so quick and dirty low-budget they didn’t really put money into well choreographed fight scenes.

    I think Chuck’s popularity is more due to the sometimes absurd hilarity of Walker Texas Ranger (and more importantly the often repeated Conan O’Brien skit), and the Internet Chuck Norris facts meme. My point is that Chuck Norris wasn’t or isn’t really a big action star – being more of a permanent staple of the bottom shelf of the video store – but he has kind risen to popularity now because of other factors than his movies. So it’s interesting to see how THE EXPENDABLES 2 decides to use his persona. Everyone else in the cast has legit big screen star wattage (well, maybe not Hemsworth) and at least a couple cool fight scenes under their belt. Everything Chuck Norris has done has been straight-to-video over here.

    Are they going rely on manufactured Internet Chuck Norris Fact “coolness”, or will they genuinely try to use him as best as they could? To prove that, hey, despite a crappy show, a truckload of B-movies, and being an Internet punchline, Chuck Norris might actually have big screen presence and charisma – he just never really got the chance to show it in his career for whatever reason.

    The guy is 72 (!) years old, so I doubt they’ll going to have him doing high kicks in the film. But I’d love to see him show that he’s the real thing as far as being an action icon goes.

  68. Yeah he had b-level fame but even that was enough to get him his own cartoon series and toys. I just knew him for the longest as the slowest karate fighter in movie history. All his fight scenes were hysterically entertaining for those reasons. LONEWOLF MCQUADE is golden cause it pits him against David Carridine who is an even slower fighter in the movies than Chuck is.

  69. Chuck’s big-time mainstream hit was THE DELTA FORCE. A Cannon film, sure, but one of its flagship releases. Directed by Manahem Golan, back when he saved the biggest budgets for himself. All-star cast, including Shelly Winters, George Kennedy, and Lee Marvin. Had a $6,000,000 opening weekend, which meant something in 1986. Played from February until May of that year. Still enough of a cultural touchstone that more than 20 years later it could be parodied in a Larry the Cable Guy movie. Believe me, in his day, Chuck was just as famous, if not more so, than Seagal or Van Damme. Never at Stallone level, sure, but if his time as a movie star had been in the nineties, he’d have gotten humongous special effects blockbuster of his own. He was just past his prime by that point and moved to the small screen, much like Seagal would do in the decades to come.

    But no, he doesn’t actually have big screen charisma. He just kicks real good and has an awesome beard.

  70. Actually THE OCTAGON made more money than THE DELTA FORCE at the box office. Not by much though. MISSING IN ACTION made more money than both of them and CODE OF SILENCE made almost as much as MIA did. INVASION USA made out about the same as DELTA FORCE too.

    If DF was released today and made the same amount of money adjusted for inflation in 2012 it would be almost 40 million dollars which back in the mid 80’s definitely meant something.

    Chuck was never an A lister. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Seagal and Van Damme all were at one point but never Chuck; but he did have some moderate hits. He was always overtly patriotic in many of his movies and that may have been a factor since it was the really patriotic 80’s.

  71. Broddie – I would aruge that Norris’ one drawback was he never did a successful mainstream crossover actioneer that could’ve attracted audiences outside the usual actioneer circles. I think SIDEKICKS was his attempt at it, but obviously it didn’t work.

    Classic example: UNDER SIEGE, Seagal’s biggest and most popular hit, that drew good reviews and ticket sales from people who usually don’t go see action movies, much less Seagal’s earlier grittier productions. (Hell it made Gene Siskel’s Top 10 list.)

    Hell even Van Damme, which I laughed when you said “A-lister” but to be fair TIMECOP was his biggest hit and my experience seems to be one that non-action fans bring up whenever the Muslces from Brussels is mentioned. And that came about what, near the end of his run at the movies? Even SUDDEN DEATH was well-crafted for that same cross-over success, but a poor release date (and a public tired of the DIE HARD plot) hampered it.

  72. RRA – ‘Hell even Van Damme, which I laughed when you said “A-lister” ‘

    Van Damme WAS an A-Lister in the early 90’s though. He was like the most prominent action hero of the 90’s next to Seagal.

    From BLOODSPORT to TIMECOP all of his movies made a huge profit. These were the days where if your movie didn’t cost over $60 million dollars making 20 – 100 million dollars at the worldwide box office was a still a big deal.

    Quick look at his resume from that time:

    BLOODSPORT – budget = $1.1 million domestic take: $11.8 million

    CYBORG – budget = $500 K domestic take: $10.2 million

    KICKBOXER – budget = $1.5 million worldwide take: $40.2 million

    DEATH WARRANT – budget = not reported worldwide take: $46.6 million

    DOUBLE IMPACT – budget = $15 million worldwide take: $80 million

    UNIVERSAL SOLDIER – budget = $23 million worldwide take: $102 million

    NOWHERE TO RUN – budget = not reported domestic take: $22 million

    HARD TARGET – budget = $19.5 million worldwide take: $74.2 million

    TIMECOP – budget = $27 million worldwide take: $103.6 million

    The man had A-list status back then with that kinda run because he had a solid run of nothing but hit movies that were money makers and he had international fame and was all over the media. He was a big star and a more lucrative box office draw than Chuck ever was. I remember it being so and the evidence even backs my point.

    I think STREET FIGHTER destroyed his career myself. There was no turning back from that kind of mistake. When he stuck to his niche though he was pretty consistent in terms of hit mainstream & independent studio movies.

    Not to take away from Chuck though cause even though he had more moderate hits they were also hits. SIDEKICKS was actually his first hit movie in a long while and his last one. It made around DELTA FORCE money ($17 million and change) which was a big deal considering his other 90’s movies were making about $6 million on average.

    MISSING IN ACTION is still his biggest hit with a $22 million gross. Even though he was never as A-list as some of the other guys in the cast he earned his spot in THE EXPENDABLES 2. Just like Dolph did. Like Mr. Majestyk said he was as popular as a Seagal or Van Damme back in the 80’s. In America karate & gun violence were big deals at the time up until around ’94 and since many Asian martial artists didn’t quite crossover in the US back then Chuck and his beard were quite synonymous with karate and guns in the US.

    Also he was a patriot and made it his business to interject that shit into his movies. Those were the most patriotic days I’ve ever seen this nation have in my lifetime outside of the early post-9/11 era so it was right the era for someone like him to peak during.

  73. Broddie – OK, my mistake on Van Damme then. I guess when you said “A-list,” I was thinking Stallone and Schwarzenegger, who in comparison would make Van Damme not look quite “A-list.”

    Colored my bias was.

  74. meant to say *next to Seagal and Arnold.

  75. I think Arnold and Sly changed the game in a lot of ways. Remember, Chuck predated them. He was of the Bronson school of action stardom: You played to your base, you made mid-range hits, and you made a LOT of them. Arnold and Sly brought action to the mainstream, and now all of a sudden you had to have a big crossover hit to stay in business. All the second-tier guys took their shot in the nineties, but Chuck’s star had already faded by that time, so he led the charge into DTV. He had a hell of a run, though. He had his first starring role in 1977, and he was still opening movies in the early nineties. That’s longer than Van Damme’s or Seagal’s runs. All this without ever being particularly good at starring in movies.

  76. Outside of the US Chuck Norris was mainly a direct-to-video star, and more or less the first major one. The only movie of his that I can remember seing in the cinema over here was Code of Silence, so I guess that was his shot at the big time.

  77. Did anyone else notice the bike into the chopper bit was a call back to live free die hard?

  78. I´m thinking as a preperation for EX2, I will try to play catchup with every actionmovie made by each and every one of the actors involved. Meaning those movies I have not seen yet.Some of these actors are not so hard, but I seem to have(with a few exceptions) missed most of Van Dammes output from the first decade of the 21st century. That goes for Dolph also,as a swede I am ashamed to say that.

  79. Expendables 2 R rating has just been confirmed by Simon West:

    http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/exclusive-simon-west-talks-expendables-2s-hard-r-rating

    So happy. I know this is not gonna automatically make it a good movie and we’re still counting down 2 inevitable disappointment, but at least we might get a few more moments like Dolph shooting a guy in half.

  80. I wonder if this has been a very elaborate marketing ploy to keep the rating in the dark and have people fearing it might be PG 13, then a few weeks before the movie releases they suddenly let out the good news to increase excitement. Or have Sly and the suits been arguing all this time and were they not sure what rating they would go with in the end?

  81. Let me answer my own question from my post above (am I the only one who is still kinda sorta quasi semi looking forward to Ex2?): they definitely were planning to go PG 13 before changing back to R at the last minute. The reason I think this is that the R rating apparently is for “strong bloody violence troughout” but there is no mention of language. It’s easy to edit some violence back in or out at a later time during production, but with swearing they would’ve had to shoot each dialogue scene twice (clean and uncensored), something they obviously didn’t bother doing.

    So what we’re getting now is a bunch of pumped up muscle men blowing people to bloody pieces while yelling “gosh darn” and “poopie.”

    Only 2,5 more weeks, guys! Who’s excited?

  82. I’m far from excited, but I’ve updated my status from “suffused with dread” to “morbidly curious.” Which means I’ll probably suck it up and go see it, not because I think it’s gonna be any good, but because I just don’t want to live in a world where Sylvester Stallone fights Jean Claude Van Damme and I’m too bitter to go witness it.

  83. Yeah, you simply can’t pass that up as an action fan. Not even after seeing how horribly they fucked up the fight between Dolph and Jet Li, which could have been legendary if they’d only pointed the camera at the people who were fighting. Stallone vs Van Damme, Adkins vs Statham… you just gotta give that a chance against your better judgment.

    I’m still optimistic that Simon West will give us better fight scenes than the first one. He’s done decent action in his other films. The Mechanic was pretty good I thought.

  84. There are some sort-of reviews floating around from a screening earlier this month that suggest we’re in for a good time with this and that it’s a funny, violent as all hell flick.

    But, you know, these reviews could be less than trustworthy.

    How many cats on here checked out the DC of part 1, by the way?

    I know Vern did and wasn’t impressed, but me and Fred T dug it a lot more than the TC.

  85. TC – Theatrical Cut, and not referring to Vern as the “Top Cat”.

  86. Mike: See, THE MECHANIC is part of what’s filling me with dread. If Simon West was just the director of CON AIR, I’d have some degree of hope for a marginally classically shot action film, but I didn’t think there was a single competently assembled action beat in THE MECHANIC. Just utter gibberish. They had a car driving through a bus lengthwise and they showed it for, what? Six frames? I hated THE MECHANIC so much I swore off theatrical action for the next six months for the sake of my blood pressure. And given Sly’s fondness for shakycam, I can only assume that THE MECHANIC was what got West the job. So I don’t have much faith on the directorial front. The only hope, once again, is that the outsized personae of the performers can make up for the unbelievable shoddiness of the filmmaking. It didn’t work last time, but maybe the JCVD factor can turn the tide.

  87. Karlos – I downloaded the DC of part 1 because I had to wait something like six months after the US release for it to get released over here. I didn’t even watch the whole thing, just the parts that I knew for sure had changed, and wasn’t impressed with what I saw. I especially hated the decision to replace the score during the final battle with that godawful rock song, ruined the whole thing for me. Now I’m glad I didn’t wait to buy it.

    Mr. M – I agree THE MECHANIC did not have the greatest action and yeah, the shaky cam style sucks, but somehow some of those fights still managed to draw me to the edge of my seat, even though you couldn’t always see what was happening. Ben Foster’s fight against the big gay hitman was a highlight for me, I loved the intensity of it. Statham against the dude in the bus (the guy who was supposed to be dead) was nothing special, but it was okay, you know? Above average, considering what the average quality of hollywood action is like these days.

    In short, I’m glad Stallone didn’t decide to direct this one himself and he could’ve gotten someone way, way worse than Simon West. I have way more faith in this than, for example, John Moore directing Die Hard 5. Now that is a movie that was fucked before they even shot a single frame.

  88. I don’t know, I would have said that about whatshisdick, the UNDERWORLD jackass, but I kinda love LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. Basically all the director has to do at this point is get the action right and let Bruce run the show, so I’m staying optimistic.

  89. Well, I just won tickets to a special screening of The Expendables 2 tomorrow. Will post my spoiler-free thoughts here if anyone’s interested. (Probably will do it anyway even if nobody is)

  90. Nice, Mike. I may be a blissfully ignorant optimist but I am excited for EX2. I will be seeing it next Wednesday at an awesome JCVD event the Alamo Drafthouse is doing. Here is the post I made about the event in another EX2 thread here on this site to try and spread the word to people that live in the area of the 2 screenings.

    “With EPENDABLES 2 only a couple weeks away here is an amazing screening that I will be attending many of you might be interested in if you live near Austin or Kansas City. The Alamo Drafthouse will be screening 3 JCVD films in 35mm followed by showing EXPENDABLES 2 in both cities. All for only 20 bucks! Here is a link to more info.

    http://badassdigest.com/2012/08/02/austin-and-kansas-city-check-out-van-dammage-plus-the-expendables-2-at-the/

    They have not announced the films they will be screening but if I could choose I would pick BLOODSPORT, LIONHEART, and HARD TARGET. I have only seen BLOODSPORT & LIONHEART on VHS and DVD, so it would be a real treat to see them on the big screen.”

  91. Also, check out this neat little Photoshoped EXPENDABLES poster somebody did with action stars of the 70’s.

    http://badassdigest.com/2012/08/06/the-expendables…-old-school-style/

    I think it is fitting that they put Clint in the lead spot.

  92. Sorry for confusion, for whatever reason that link in my last post does not seem to work. I know this one works if you copy and paste it.

    http://badassdigest.com/2012/08/06/the-expendables…-old-school-style/

  93. When I am in a shitty mood I look at it like this: If DIE HARD 4.0 was an actual digital upgrade to a popular computer software, I would judge it as a poorly executed patch; they removed all the cool features from previous installments to make the interface more easily-accessible for kids. Cause that´s what the movie is to me,personally, a digital pile of shit. Thats what I think of it when I´m in a shitty mood.Problem is, I´m mostly in a shitty mood.

  94. Charles, I would have chosen Lee Marvin over Lee Majors, but otherwise it’s a cool lineup.

  95. pegsman, I agree Lee Marvin is a much better choice than Lee Majors. Maybe whoever made the poster considered Marvin more of a 60’s era action star than a 70’s era action star. Marvin works for both decades. I also would have put Jim Brown or Fred Williamson on there before Muhammed Ali.

  96. I would have personally put Sonny Chiba in my dream team. That guys knows the exquisite but deadly art of fucking guys up.

  97. Sonny Chiba is the man, but if you were only going with one asian action star of the 70’s it would be hard not to pick Bruce.

  98. Why would anyone limit themselves to just one asian action star of the 70´s,when there are so many of them? Thats just crazy talk.

  99. Swap out Majors for Bronson and now you’re talking.

    I agtee, get Bruce AND Sonny on there.

    A Bruce/Sonny team-up would’ve been the balls. It almost happened, too.

    Oh, for what could’ve been…

  100. I meant “Marvin”, not Bronson.

    D’uh.

  101. Shoot, I agree. I just meant sticking to the 1 Asian action star on the team template set by the EXPENDABLES. I am all for more Asian, Japanese, Korean and/or Thai action stars on the team. I would love to see Ti Lung, Chow Yun-Fat, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Sonny Chiba, Yuen Biao, Tony Jaa, Byung-hun Lee, and/or Iko Uwais in an EXPENDABLES film. I also think Simon Yam would make a great EXPENDABLES villain.

  102. Mad Dog from THE RAID should be among THE EXPENDABLES in my opinion. Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais? They can kick large amount of ass and are extremely good martial artists. Their boyish looks ruins it for me,though.

    Simon Yam, thats a great choice. Not necessarily a villain. I´d love to see him play a similar role like in BULLET IN THE HEAD. He was awesome in that.

  103. I guess the poster is supposed to be a 70’s version of THE EXPENDABLES, aka people who were great in the 60’s, and then I’m pretty sure that the dream line up must be (from left to right); Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Burt Reynolds, Toshiro Mifune, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Jim Brown, James Coburn and Lee Marvin. People that were

  104. A while back on Scott Adkins’ Facebook page they asked for suggestions on who should be the villain in the next Undisputed film. The suggestions had to be realistic, so no Statham or Donnie Yen etc. I suggested Johnny Nguyen (even though I haven’t been able to track down any of his latest films, but he made a big impression on me in Tom Yum Goong).

    After seeing The Raid though, I think Iko Uwais would be a good choice too if they can get him to look less boyish as Shoot mentioned. Mad Dog would be another choice, but I don’t know. I think the guy’s face is too friendly, I feel like he would be better as an ass-kicking good guy. Besides, Adkins is not that tall either, so it would be a fight between two shorties.

    It’s difficult to think of any other good names. Van Damme or Lundgren are too old, you would need someone at their physical peak just like Adkins. Who would you pick?

  105. After serious contempation ,I´ve decided I would have kicked Bruce lee off the team in favor of Sonny Chiba for two reasosn:

    1: Lee´s “the art of fighting without fighting” philosophy does not gel well with EXPENDABLES. these guys are not the philosophical types.

    2: I´m sad to say it, but Chibas filmography is more entartaining to watch than most of Lee´s output. I have a lot more fun with flicks like THE STREETFIGHTER trilogy (SISTER STREET FIGHTER,I consider more of a spin-off), THE DEFENSIVE POWER OF AIKIDO,YAKUZA DEKA and the allmighty glorious G.I SAMURAI.

    Anyone else here seen G.I SAMURAI?. Sonny Chiba and his bad ass army sqadron gets trapped in a time portal and ends up in feudal japan with an attack chopper and a battle tank. Chiba decides to take over Japan with his modern day weaponry. Its technology vs Bushido. Samurai vs Army. Epic battles ensues.
    What´s great is that at one point they get their asses handed to them by the samurai. Its just as crazy as it sounds. I believe there are several versions of this film. the one I have is the full two and a half hours. i wouldn´t be surprised if there was a dumbed down 90 minute cut.

    I would have had Bruce Lee on the bench as badass advisor though. For motivating the troops with his wisdom.

  106. Shoot, I saw G.I. SAMURAI in the 80’s. No idea what version it was, but it made quite impression on me and my brother. Is it out on dvd now?

  107. pegsman- its on one of the UK Optimum Asias Sonny Chiba collections. Vol2, I believe along with GOLGO 13 and THE BULLET TRAIN. Re-mastered picture and sound, original language versions. Should probably be easy to find.
    Highy recommend the other Chiba volumes. Watching THE STREETFIGHTER in a print it deserves is pretty awesome.

  108. To be clear, G.I SAMURAI as crazy as the setup is, has a lot more to it than just the crazy clash. It is quite serious in tone and more to offer than meets the eye.A lot more than TRANSFORMERS…

  109. So I saw The Expendables 2 a few hours ago. Here are some spoiler-free thoughts on the experience.

    Turns out we’ve not been counting down 2 disappointment, but 2 mild relief. This is definitely better than the first one, although it still has some of the same problems. The action still won’t blow your mind, as it seems to involve a whole lot of action icons just standing there and mowing peeps down with guns or doing the same from moving vehicles. You can clearly see what happens most of the time though, who is shooting who etc. and the fact that Arnie, Bruce and Chuck actually get to join in the carnage is a sight that did give me goosebumps on occasion. The kick that this film delivers in that respect is what people were hoping to get from the first one, but now it’s finally here and it is definitely crowd-pleasing. The audience I saw it with went crazy during Chuck’s introduction and especially the finale shootout at the airport. They even laughed at all of Arnie’s silly oneliners, most of which made me groan a little bit. Really, these characters are all just a bunch of big babies making childish jokes, but often I couldn’t help but smile. And there are a couple of actual laugh-out-loud moments, which I don’t remember being in the first one (look out for the “one more!” bit, if you’re not smiling after that, you’re dead inside).

    Okay, on to some important questions:

    How’s Van Damme? – He’s one of the highlights of the film and a joy to watch, although I wish he would have been in it more. He’s obviously having the time of this life playing this evil son of a bitch and it’s infectious. The final fight with Stallone is thankfully pretty decent. He gets to do some of his trademark kicks and I enjoyed all the taunting he was doing the whole way through.

    How’s Adkins? – He’s good, doing his evil Russian thing that we’ve seen him do before. He doesn’t get to do much really, and his fight with Statham is the low point of the film. It’s like they were in a hurry to get it over with and it’s shot just as poorly as the Jet Li VS Dolph fight in the original. Also, it ends just when you think it might get better. One positive note: I did like how the fight ends.

    Is it hard R? – Nah. You can tell the decision to go for R came late in the production as mostly it’s added CGI blood (and sometimes CGI flesh chunks) with one or two gory shots that seemed like inserts that were probably done during the reshoots. Also there is not a swear word in sight. Guess we have Chuck to thank for that.

    Do all the Expendables get stuff to do in the film? – Nope. Jet Li is not in the movie much but he at least gets to kick some ass in the huge action scene at the beginning. Randy Couture and Terry Crews you only remember afterwards from silly dialogue scenes, they don’t have a single good moment during any of the action scenes. In fact, Terry’s famous shotgun gets borrowed by Arnie, so he even loses the thing that made him stand out the most.

    Final thoughts: It’s an extremely silly film like the first one, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It definitely aims to please the hardcore fans with lots of moments for favorite icons to shine. The action is better than the first but nothing you haven’t seen before, although the fact that it is these particular guys doing the shooting adds a lot. The dialogue is still weirdly (un)funny stuff with a few serious bits that they don’t quite pull off. For example, Sly’s funeral speech made me snigger. I guess you have to be Mickey Rourke to make that kind of shit work. Anyways, if you can look past that stuff there are enough enjoyable moments here that make it well worth a look. I left the theater smiling, if you’re not a completely bitter bastard by now, maybe you will too.

  110. Thanks for that, Mike. That allays a lot of my fears and sets my expectations at a reasonable level. Bummer about the Statham/Adkins fight, though. I guess fucking up the main fight everyone wants to see is becomng a staple of the series. Next time they’ll probably have Randy Couture fight Mad Dog from THE RAID and they’ll forget to take the lens cap off.

  111. Reasonable expectations,ey? Thanks for the heads-up,Mike. At least its not in 3D. I still am excited to watch it in cinemas

    “Next time they’ll probably have Randy Couture fight Mad Dog from THE RAID and they’ll forget to take the lens cap off.”

    Goddamnit,Majestyk.Will you ever cease to be an amusement for this poor wretched soul? I hope not.Good one.

  112. “Next time they’ll probably have Randy Couture fight Mad Dog from THE RAID and they’ll forget to take the lens cap off.”

    I agree with Shoot, damn good one.

    As for fucking up the main fight, they did take their time with Stallone vs Van Damme, had a nice build-up, some taunting, then the fight, some breaks for more taunting etc. So I’m pretty sure they thought that was what people came to see, which is why they must’ve rushed through the Statham/Adkins thing. To be honest, Adkins is far from a household name, I have to constantly explain to people who he is when I mention him (and that includes people who claim to be into action/martial arts)

  113. True, the Italian Stallion vs. the Muscles From Brussels is the marquee bout, but us action heads know that Statham/Adkins is bound to be a technically superior piece of fightsmanship.

  114. Yep… Sadly it was not to be.

  115. Thanks Mike.

    “Next time they’ll probably have Randy Couture fight Mad Dog from THE RAID and they’ll forget to take the lens cap off.”

    Funny stuff Mr. M.

  116. Shoot, I can see your point. Bruce Lee is more of an icon than Chiba, but he never ripped a guys dick off with his bare hands.

  117. Charles – that guy does not stand for rape and you gotta respect shit like that

  118. Yup, Chiba is a savage, but doesn’t he let a chick get raped in at least one of the STREETFIGHTER films. That is part of what makes Chiba so cold is that if you try and mess with the wrong girl he will not only kick your ass he will destroy your manhood. However, at the same time if you fuck with Chiba and double cross him he also has no problem selling your sister to a sex slave ring. I have never seen G.I. SAMURAI and need to ASAP. Have you ever seen the awesome trailer for THE BODYGUARD staring Chiba? It is a lame American release of one of his films, but the trailer is glorious. It builds to a peak late in the trailer where there are these great shots of Chiba looking awesome with a growing chant of “Viva Chiba, Viva Chiba” in the background.

  119. Thats what is so great about tsurugi. Fuck with him and you can kiss your ass goodbye.That is why I would like to have him on my side. He is loyalunless you betray him AND pay him.
    The full movie THE BODYGUARD is not all that great although it starts fucking promising.

  120. I meant he is loyal unless you betray him or fail to pay him. Takuma Tsurugi is my favourite bad ass of all time.

  121. In this article:

    http://www.moviefanatic.com/2012/08/the-expendables-2-jason-statham-shares-his-man-crush/

    Statham laments that he didn’t get to rehearse the fight with Adkins and had to shoot it in one day. (Doesn’t sound promising.) He calls Adkins “one of the greatest onscreen martial artists there is” and hopes he gets to fight him in another movie.

    In other news, I had no idea that Statham had been an Olympic diver. Why don’t they work a bunch of gratuitous diving stunts into his movies? Or am I forgetting some?

  122. He had that swimming scene in TRANSPORTER 1. I don’t remember if they showed him diving into the water, though.

    They should do a GYMKATA thing where he’s a diver who gets to use his skills to fight evil. Everywhere he went there would just happen to be makeshift diving boards and pools of water, and somehow that would give him an edge. Obviously there’s a crazy dive that cost him his best friend and diving partner in the pre-credits sequence, and he’s vowed never to do it again but of course he does and that’s what saves the day somehow.

    This summer, Jason Statham is…OFF THE DEEP END.

    Splashing into a theater near you.

  123. I think he should do a another Bronson remake set at sea called DEATH FISH.

  124. Thanks for that link Vern, that explains why that fight is so short and unimpressive. What a shame though. They could’ve taken out half the explosions in this film and I would’ve been okay with it if it meant more time for an epic Statham/Adkins fight.

  125. Thanks for the article Vern. That is disappointing to hear that they could not have spent more time on the Statham/Adkins fight, but even if EX2 is a disappointment maybe it will be the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the 2 that leads to more films starring them in the future and I am down with that.

    What if they did an Olympics set DIE HARD rip off with Statham as a diver that has to take on terrorist at the games. He could work with a group of other Olympic athletes that all have to use their specific skills to take down the bad guys. It could star guys like Kurt Angle or Mark Henry that actually won Olympic medals.

  126. Apparently the embargo I signed has now been lifted so I’m allowed to say I fucking loved it. Van Damme is amazing in it. I thought the action was great and clearly shot. Some specifics we can get into after everyone’s seen it, but see my comment on the SPECIALIST thread about how smart Stallone is.

  127. Karlos: I would be careful with that. There seem to be a trend of interpreting casting wishes or “he/she is in talks to join the movie” as definitive casting announcements. I don’t know what’s exactly wrong with the news websites these days, but usually it starts with someone saying that they would like to have actor XY in their movie or that the role has been offered and one day later several websites are reporting that contracts have been signed and shit. I can imagine that EX3 hasn’t even been greenlit yet.

  128. I saw EX2 last night and really enjoyed it. It is a much better film than the first one. I will wait for Vern’s review to go into greater detail, but I am happy to say that for the most part the action is all clearly staged and well shot. The opening action sequence is great and much better than anything from the previous film. The Adkins/Statham fight was not as epic as I would have liked, but it was still good and it has a very satisfying climax. JCVD steals the show. He seems to be having a great time playing a villain and his performance elevates what would have otherwise been a pretty predictable and generic plot. His climatic confrontation with Sly is everything you could hope for. As a big JCVD fan it was fucking awesome to see him spin kicking on the big screen again in a film like this. I am pumped for Vern’s review and look forward to seeing it again.

  129. Saw it.

    After all the bitching and doomsaying I have done about this movie, I must say that it surpassed all my expectations by being thoroughly okay. It’s still almost unforgivably sloppy in nearly every area (and good christ were the in-jokes embarrassing) but it was probably better than the first one (hard to say after one viewing. I think the first one had lower lows but also higher highs). It at least featured more camaraderie and no shakycam, though I’d say it was still shot too close and edited too fast (plus all the blood was clearly added in post to accommodate the Internet-insisted R rating) to really be exceptional as action filmatism. Van Damme was great, very loose and quirky, and Lundgren stole every scene he was in, as expected. Arnie and Bruce seemed to each be in their own movies again, and Norris was a fucking embarrassment to the entire history of badass cinema, but I guess the math more or less adds up favorably.

    The upshot is that my expectations have now been filed down to the proper level. I know none of these movies will ever be great, or even good. They’ll just be sporadically enjoyable pieces of crap. And that’s okay. They now have my blessing keep cranking these out once every couple years until they become unprofitable or Stallone’s knees finally go out on him…although, now that I think about it, maybe his ultimate achievement is that he’s finally created a franchise that could conceivably go on without him. By part 4, he’ll be Mickey Rourke, giving a little speech in one scene and letting everyone else get their hands dirty for a change. As retirement plans go, it could be worse.

  130. Won’t make it out to see this one for a little while, but I expect my reaction will be about where yours is, Majestyk.

    And I think the core observation is correct: it’s largely about expectations. If you want a campy send-up, a kind of unintentional “meta” 80s action film that borders on self-parody and where the actors are at least partly in on the joke…then here you go. Sly is essentially a carnival barker who has put his finger on something: very few people are going to come out to a theatre see Dolph or Chuck Norris or even Van Damme on their own, but if you put them together, there’s nostalgia appeal. Die-hards can will enjoy, and the younger folks can enjoy it ironically. Same thing worked for Freddy vs. Jason.

    The problem I have is that my expectations for part 1 were set by Rocky Balboa and Rambo and, before that, Cop Land (yes, I’ll keep coming back to those movies). With these movies, Sly reconnected to what made the original Rocky and Rambo so great: real characters and stories that you cared about, some real depth. Rambo was a little bonkers with the violence, but the Rambo character remained really interesting and seemed to even get cooler with age. And when I first started seeing little blurbs about how Stallone wanted to make another Rocky and another Rambo, I frankly thought that was just pathetic, not unlike old Rocky wanting to do one more fight. Just pathetic. And then, like Rocky himself, Stallone actually does it. At sixty years old and a decade since he’s done anything anybody cared about, he makes another Rocky and another Rambo and they both kick ass and are just genuinely good movies that retire the characters in fine form. I frankly did not at all believe Stallone could pull that off , and he did. And he did those movies his way.

    So, when it comes to Expendables 1, I’m expecting more than just an awesome cast. The awesome cast is just raising my expectations for you to deliver a filmatic experience that honors this cast that you’ve assembled. But instead, with part 1, once you get past the initial, “Holy crap, It’s Stallone and Jason Statham. And Jet Li. And Dolph, Austin, Eric Roberts…etc., etc.,” what you have is a diffuse, mediocre action movie with so-so production values. Completely forgettable. So, for me, not only is it insufficient to simply coast on the awesome cast, the presence of such an amazing cast and the expectations that accompany such an event actually magnify the crappiness of the narrative/pacing/editing/direction. Stallone was on a roll of delivering genuinely good movies with rich characters and compelling stories, and he’s traded that in for this dimly lit, bland, generic, plodding, formulaic disjointed mess. Other than some inspired Dolph moments, the Statham basketball court scene, and Stone Cold (I dug him in this), what is even remotely memorable about this movie other than its surprising crappiness?

    I am cautiously optimistic that this new one will be better and more fun, if for no other reason than it has made up its mind to embrace balls-out campiness and self-parody rather than dwell in a state of indecision about whether it wants to be a serious action film. Okay. Campiness can be fun. But I still believe there is a possible alternate universe where they actually make a genuinely compelling bona fide action movie that does some original things with these familiar faces.

    Isn’t this what the Dear Leader Vern has said in his criticism of the Transformers movies? Do we just give this movie a pass because it sure seems like they’re all having fun grab-assing around Bulgaria and because we’ve always wanted to see them together? “Don’t take it to seriously.” “Don’t overthink it.” “It’s a summer popcorn movie, what else do you expect?” “Just enjoy it for what it is and stop trying to wish it into being something it’s not.” “Just be thankful somebody got all these guys together on the same screen.”

    Screw that noise. There was an amazing all-star cast in Cop Land, and that was an awesome story with incredible depth. Granted, it was more of a suspense drama. Rambo was full of ridiculous violence, explosions, and one man taking on an entire army, but it was also a really good Rambo film that respected its audience and its legacy. Expendables 1 was a bloated marketing gimmick that coasted on the goodwill its stars have built up over the decades. He’s entitled to do that, but I expect more from the son of a bitch who was face down on the mat but got up at the bell to make Rocky Balboa and Rambo on sheer balls and determination.

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