Thursday, August 16, 2012

Double Feature: The Expendables (2010) and The Expendables 2 (2012)

The Expendables was a review I never got around to writing.

Sure, I enjoyed it, but the more I postponed my completion of the review, the more the movie became a bit 'meh' for me, and I really couldn't pull all my points together for a proper review.

Testosterone? Check. Action? Adequate enough. Looking back, my gripe about the movie was the slight emphasis on Jason Statham's character. Nothing against Statham, but leave a bit more screen-time for the others, eh?

This didn't mean that the movie wasn't fun, but I would say that most of the fun came from the cast line-up. Up until then, I didn't even know how much I'd missed Dolph Lundgren, and thus, got a massive huge kick out of watching him and Jet Li duke it out on-screen.

I was quite glad to see him not die at the end. 6/10.

[Review for numero dos starts now.]

The idea behind The Expendables is awesome in the sense that it can be considered as the mother of all action movies. Just as how The Avengers is the mother of all superhero movies (at least, until that Justice League movie materialises), The Expendables collects action stars old and (semi-) young, and weaves them a shared storyline for our viewing pleasure.

And that list is not exhausted yet.

It’s the nostalgia factor that gets to me. How often do you see Lundgren these days? Or, though he has a reason, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Jean-Claude Van Damme even? Or Chuck flippin’ Norris?

Like taking a trip down memory lane.

And no worries to be had here about egos. Half of the stars in the movie haven't really been in anything big in a long while.

Did I say I totally miss Dolph Lundgren?

The first movie didn't exactly explore its homage potential, apart from a few jabs at Schwarzenegger's stint as Governator of California. As Arnie's role (and others) have been expanded in this sequel, I'm very pleased to announced that there are homages and pop culture references a-plenty (especially for the more established action stars), and with that, it's basically a chance for all the old-timers to poke fun at themselves and each other.

And it works. Granted, the cheese and cliched-dialogue factor is ultimately at an all-time high, but
It so does. One of the best scenes in this movie involves Chuck Norris. Let’s just say that he’s capable of being an Expendable (note the singular) all by himself.

This time around, Lundgren (yay!!), Terry Crews and Randy Couture, who round out the rest of the Expendables, are given more time to shine. Some of the funniest scenes in the movie involve the three.

On that note... poor Liam Hemsworth.

Action-wise, the second movie delivers far, far more than the first. From the first very-loaded-and-action-packed 15 minutes (only then we get the title card), till the final scenes where everyone in the movie poster (except for two) packs guns and knives and puts them to appropriate use, there's a ton of action to go around. I seem to notice more blood and more guts in this one, though it's been a long while since I last saw the first one. I mean, there was violence, but it's not as gratuitous as this one. Even punching begot copious amounts of blood-letting.

Jet Li fans, you may be disappointed with this outing; he’s only in this movie for 15 minutes (guess which 15), after which he takes a parachute out. Even Lundgren glares at him for that.

[Surprisingly, Li still gets third billing, right after Statham.]

It’s definitely much better than the first movie (though I think it’s well-established by now that seconds are mostly always better than firsts). Even with the inclusion of a girl proper this time around, it didn’t detract much my enjoyment of this movie.

I think I’m an awful feminist. I prefer to have my movies 100% testosterone-fuelled, rather than have a token "strong, sexy, sassy, one-of-the-boys" female member of the team. I find it redundant and unnecessary to have eye-candy for the boys when guns, grenades and booze should cut it. Luckily, this movie doesn't create any love interest notions, although for a moment I thought we might actually go down that road.

Thank goodness.

JCVD is adequately slimey as the bad guy (ha ha) Vilain (pronounced vee-layn), but the final fight between the Italian Stallion and JCVD wasn’t that all hyped to be. Maybe it’s due to different fighting styles (JCVD is more martial arts than Stallone) or due to age, but there wasn’t as much fighting as I would’ve liked.

[Fun fact: Stallone initially offered Gunnar (currently played by Lundgren) to JCVD, but JCVD declined. Totes in his face yo.]

Suggestion for The Expendables 3: Bring in Ray Park, please! Then he can have a showdown with Jet Li (hopefully). Someone should also bring in Steven Seagal. I’m sure Stallone can fit him in somewhere. Apparently, the third movie is in the process of signing Nicolas Cage (NOT THE BEES!!!), and they’re looking to get Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford and BladeWesley Snipes.

8/10. I had so much fun with this movie, I can hardly wait for the third.

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