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The Expendables 2 movie poster


The EXPENDABLES 2

"I just want to celebrate . . ."
 

(17 Aug 2012) Director: Sylvester Stallone
 

It was as impossible for the sequel to be bad as it was for the first movie. We came to see more of our Action Movie heroes, and it delivered: with great entrances—Not just of the characters themselves, but the opening of the movie was the best I've seen since The A-TeamThey just kept piling on like a "kitchen sink" ice cream sundae: flavor after flavor, another scoop, more toppings, nuts, and the cherry on top was that Sly had to rescue Arnold.  "It's good to be the King."

Sylvester Stallone
I believe that people think Actors are the sum total of their roles. If an Actor plays a really horrible character, we always have that in the back of our minds. If they repeatedly play heroes, we come to think of them as having all the qualities of the characters they've played. As I wrote in my Bad Ass Action Figure description, "he's Rocky, he's Rambo . . . our American ninja."

Stallone may be older but he's Sylvester Stallone, dammit. He looks good. The wardrobe in this movie is as bad ass as the characters are. From the upturned pea coat collar, to the G.I. Joe look, to the beret, Stallone is dressed as every soldier fantasy there is at one point or another in this movie. He even sports goggles. And he put in so many toys: a seaplane, jet skis, airboats, tanks, helicopters, motorcycles, ATVs, even a Smart car. Arnold may have once been the biggest star of Action Movies but Stallone also wrote and directed. (Okay, Arnold directed but only 2 things.) Rocky and Rambo are so much a part of American culture that either one would be a lot on its own but Stallone is both of them and more.  He totally gets what we want from Action Movies and proves it (time and time again).
 

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Once upon a time it seemed like Arnold could never be topped, let alone topped by an aging Stallone, but this movie cemented Stallone's place at the top of the (yet to be created) Action Movie Hall of Fame like nothing else could.  Someone new will have to come along and make a lifetime of work that's better than his to surpass him now.  He not only finally got the better of Arnold by casting him in his own (Stallone's) ultimate Action Movie franchise, but he also got in a dig having Arnold play someone who messed up and is, luckily, rescued by Stallone.  Also, I think the only reason they put Jason Statham's character's girlfriend in was so Stallone could make a statement about cheating. Another Arnold dig. LOVING IT! Just realized this paragraph is all about Stallone . . . but, it was great to see Arnold back in Action again.

The converse is true of our Action Movies heroes that if they disappoint us in real life, we bring that to their roles onscreen, but, who doesn't still love Ahnald in spite of himself?! He didn't do that much in this movie, but he had BIG onscreen presence. Just showing up for more than a cameo was enough. They had some good jokes at his expense and he was good natured about it.  So he cheated on his wife and he's not going to be President. Now that he's 'back' you have to wonder: was that worth giving up his movie career for? Bruce Willis tells him "You've been back enough." LMAO Stallone did give Arnold a good line with "Who's next? Rambo?" Our screen heroes banding together to fight evil. It pumped us up! Whether you think they're too old or not, audiences still ate it up when Arnold rips the door off the Smart car and shoots the shit out of everything.

Confused about where the airport was in the plot of the movie, my brother turned to me and asked "Where are they?"  Doesn't matter where they are. "They're back!"  They couldn't be more back than having the movie open with previews of other movies they are in.  The fact that these guys are aging seems irrelevant in this second movie. Whether they can really do those things, or whether or not you believe they can, what they are doing is entertaining us in the same way they always did.  LOTS of Action and tons of great cheesy one-liners, trash talking, camaraderie, and dominance.  All my Action Movie Essentials.  It satisfied. Oh yeah, it DID!! 

Jason Statham
'Brother' Statham proved he has all the speed, fluidity, and grace of Jet Li and Jean-Claude Van Damme put together. He has two fight scenes that are a study in agility and 'signature' Statham. In his first fight scene he makes moves that make your groin hurt. Talk about fast! The fight scene just keeps on going. There are surprises and as lethal as it is, it's packed with a variety of skills and styles.  It defies description (you should see it). It requires slo-mo. It elevates Statham to the level he deserves with the rest of these Action Movie heroes. Don't think playing Stallone's sidekick is anything but "sitting at the right hand".  Who else would Stallone have chosen? A bit less of a buddy dynamic here than in the first movie, but they're all so busy, who has time for bromance? With all the muscle in this movie—most of it completely covered most of the time—Statham's amazing physique takes a backseat to how breathtakingly good he looked in this outfit (above).

The Expendables 2 Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris
Stallone's treatment of Chuck Norris, by contrast to his treatment of Arnold, was reverential and he showed deference.  The man IS an Action Movie Legend. Mr. Norris got the biggest applause from the audience, and it was a really great tribute that they worked in a Chuck Norris joke.  Stallone used him perfectly.  It was so fitting, and so much fun.

When am I going to start talking about the movie?  This IS the movie. These stars are the reason we went to see it, well, that plus the promise of a bat-shit-crazy amount of ACTION . . . Zip lines! Yes, now I want to go out and shoot stuff while flying along on a zip line.

Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme
finally overcame whatever made him say no the first time (coughingegocoughing) and, of course, Stallone cast him as a villain. Sweet! You can be in my movie, but you can't be a 'good guy'.  I never liked JCVD as much just because he seemed too handsome and a little effeminate to be a tough guy. I am not denying his incredible athleticism and fighting skills, but as Stallone put it "I'll man you up."  Oh yeah, he needed 'manning up' in the past, and I am not the only one who thought so. (So Stallone thought so too?)

Their fight scene is great by any standard. There is nothing anyone could complain about. Van Damme is a little scary when he takes off his sunglasses. I think he keeps them on to look tougher because his eyes are very 'pretty' and that's a little wrong note.  When he takes them off here, yikes!  Bad lighting. Overall he looks great. They all do. Stallone's arms are vein-tastic. In their final fight scene it looked like they both went all out. If it was sped up, I couldn't tell. The fight choreography and the pacing is great. It's not too long, not too short. Stallone takes a beating but comes back to win. Van Damme takes a beating but dies like a man. This time around Stallone's pain showed only once at the end when he bends down. (I recognize knee pain when I see it.) Van Damme's famous kicks looked just as deadly. Honestly, Van Damme was AWESOME!  They gave him Scott Adkins as a sidekick! Seriously, Stallone has Statham and Van Damme has Adkins. The top of my head just exploded with Bad Ass overload!!  If they used stunt doubles ("if" LOL there's a huge list of them) in the movie, kudos to them that it never showed.

 


 

Jet Li
This time around Jet Li rocked the house. Not that he didn't last time, but this scene was flawless. He was masterful, fluid, fast, and creative. How the scene started and how he changed weapons and wound up using pots and pans was really well done. The choreography (a James Brown "Good God!") was great, but the calm skill and athletic prowess Jet Li showed in his movements left no room for doubt that he was in top form. If he has any weaknesses, he overcame them that day. The ending of the scene was so true to the wickedly bad-ass Jet Li we first loved in Lethal Weapon 4. Attitude baby. (God, I love him!) After the decimation is over, Li drops the pots with such disdain—like he owns the world. He just kicked all y'all's asses with cookware, but his look said he could have done it with anything.  The scene was so fucking perfect, I didn't mind that he parachuted out of the movie shortly after.

Dolph Lundgren
Dolph, the Ladies Man. They did make a little (a lot) of fun of him. He's along for the ride but he's not 'with the program'. He's in his own world. They could have made the movie without him, which is a shame. I think he's under appreciated by fans and was under utilized here but they kept him in which is complete validation.  I thought it would be good to see him and JCVD go head to head, but they saved that for the Big Man. [(I'm looking forward to seeing how they use Dolph in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (Nov 30 2012).]

 

Terry Crews
So, in real life Terry Crews and Arnold found out they have the same birthday. That's cool. At ComicCon Arnold complimented Terry on his physique. The ultimate endorsement. Those two had a little fun in the movie when Arnold wants the AA-12.  Terry gives it to him, but Terry also has one later.  It was kind of funny how Arnold shot with it. Almost like he wasn't really shooting at all but moved his arms WAY too exaggeratedly to demonstrate the power of the gun.  Hell, the sound effects do that. But if Arnold wants your gun, you give it to him.  Terry wasn't in it as much as I'd have liked. He's a naturally funny guy and they used that well. He's also a good actor too, but he's mainly here for show. Loved his line about getting a good pump. You gotta have somebody with a " 'God DAMN!' physique" and Terry is that man.  From his ComicCon comments, he totally gets it "One thing you gotta understand about the Action genre is that it's like a religion. It really is. You get your beliefs from these movies. You get what's right and wrong from these movies. You get your inspiration from these movies." Preach!
 

Scott Adkins
Fitting that they cast him as an Eastern European with an accent. Very Boyka. He has a little bit of ass kicking in this movie but we wanted more. Still, cool to see him inducted into the Ultimate Boys Club.
 

Randy Couture
Ah, Randy—What you put up with! They just seem to have you around to pick on you with ear jokes.  He takes it good naturedly. After all, if that's the price of admission to the Ultimate Boys' Club, it's nothing. He paid his dues in real life. Now he's getting paid to hang with friends.  It's a great gig and a great compliment.
 

Nan Yu
She fit in as one of the boys and they certainly used her in that role as one. She had her own fight scene and held up to the standard of the men.  That alone says it all.  Equality of force.  We can't ask for more. She didn't play it as 'sexy' and she didn't need their help.  Aside from the jokes, she served to bring out the human side of the men, especially Liam Hemsworth's character.  She and Dolph and she and Sly had some chemistry going.  Dolph more to show she can kid around and be one of the guys, and Stallone, well, she had to be a little in love with the leading man. It is his movie. I actually thought for a split second they were going to kiss at the end.  Maybe they should have.  A really cheesy (that's a good thing) Action Movie Bad Ass would have gone in to get some, but maybe we've evolved. ("We" as in Women in Action Movies, "we" as in Women as People first, female second, and "we" as in Human Beings treating Women as People—PLEASE GOD. Respect is true equality!!)
 

Liam Hemsworth
Lovely Liam.  He was sacrificed for the sake of the plot. We had to have something to love the heroes and hate the villain for, to fight against, someone to fight for/avenge.  Since he played a sniper there was no fighting for him but his acting was good. I would not say he's in the Boys Club. I mistakenly thought it was his brother Chris who was cast at first. I would have loved that but Chris does not have the innocent boyish look of Liam. Chris is more of the Dolph category . . . I don't think Liam is the Action Movie type, but it will be interesting to see where his career goes.

 

Don Thai Theerathada aka Don Tai
Listed as an Expendables 2 fight choreographer, if Don is responsible for the Jet Li, Jason Statham, and Stallone/Van Damme fight scenes, hats off!  According to IMDB, he was offered a starring role in Ong-bak, was voted 4th Best Body in Thailand ("OK" Magazine 2006), and is an Actor who does his own stunts. Here's hoping we see more of him in front of the camera!
 

Bruce Willis
And last, but in no way least, Boss Bruce. The "Charlie" in this group of Angels. His role was very minor but the audience loved him.  He got to rescue Stallone. I am very glad they didn't make him the villain (as was rumored). That would not have been very 'yippee-ki-yay'! 

 

Celebrate!
Even though the three of them (Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger) were also together in a scene in the first movie, in this one it's different because they are working together, so we did get a moment where it felt a little like that scene in The Avengers when they made a circle in the street. As the helicopter takes off at the end of the movie and we look down at Stallone standing on the airfield waving and figuratively tipping his hat goodbye, there is an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for the movies these Action Icons made that we all love so much, and you have to wonder how long can they do this? How many years does Stallone has left. How many do any of us have?  When Statham and Stallone fist bump at the and as Rare Earth blares out "I just want to celebrate another day of living" we all share in the bromance . . . Celebrate!


CELEBRATE!



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