The Expendables was an idea by Sylvester Stallone to bring together some of the biggest names in action movies. With the second movie coming out soon with a host of martial artists I thought it’s time to review the first movie.
Not really a martial arts movie as much as plain shoot ‘em up action, but this movie has a few good fights with some top martial arts displayed within them. The Expendables are a group of elite mercenaries for hire under the command of Barnie Ross (Sylvester Stallone). The Expendables are approached to take out an overseas target which gets a little messy.
Fearing failure, they decide not to go through with the job. But Barney decides after realising he can do some good in the world, that he wants to go through with it. So they gear up and try to assassinate the real target – an American man who calls the shots named James Munroe
The Impressive Lineup.
This movie is known for it’s line up.The main Expendables team consists of Sylvester Stallone as Barnie, Jason Statham as Lee, Jet Li as Yin, Randy Couture as Toll Road (yeah, that’s his name!), Terry Crews as Hale Caeser, Mickey Rourke as Tool and Dolph Lundgren as the untrusted Gunnar whose allegience is shakey and uncertain until the end of the film.
Furthermore there’s some other names that pop up in the movie as friends and foes. You’ve got Eric Roberts as James Munroe, ’Stone Cold’ Steve Austin as Dan Paine, Martial Arts actor Gary Daniels as ‘The Brit’ and some appearances by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis.
MMA Fans may even notice a few more names besides Couture – the Nogeira brothers – playing some guards.
A Formula Action Film with a shred of meaning
Ultimately this movie is explosions, gunshots, knife fights and martial arts with a suitable story plopped in there to house that action.
Mickey Rourke’s charcter Tool tells a tale of how he let a woman commit suicide on a bridge, and his regret of letting it happen. After all the lives he’s taken there was one he could have saved, but didn’t. This seems to be the point in the story which causes Barney (Sly) to realise he wants to do something because it’s for a greater cause and not just money.
Throughout the movie Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) becomes a little uncontrollable and even attacks Barnie and Yin. Throughout a lot of the movie you’re never really sure whether Gunnar is really with the Expendables or against them.
The Action & Martial Arts
As I mentioned earlier, you’ve got more gunshots and explosions than anything but a lot of hand to hand and knife fighting seems to find it’s way in to the movie.
Jason Statham seems to be the main martial artist in this movie. His use of knives and hand to hand combat is performed brilliantly, but not captured as well. The shots are shaky, quick and don’t really show the movements off in a way that really showcases his abilities to their potential.
Jet Li was also a little underused considering his fantastic background of some of the best martial arts fights in cinema. You see snippets of him fighting a few guys, and two fights of him against Dolph Lundgren. The fights with Dolph are pretty funny considering the size difference. This size I think is well stated when Dolph yells “What are you – a size 3? Come on happy feet!!” I find it disappointing that Jet Li seems to lose so easily, despite the potential ability he could have displayed in the movie.
Sylvester Stallone seems to only use guns in this movie – and when he doesn’t they skip past a lot of his hand to hand fighting – a smart move considering Stallone’s martial arts skills are pretty limited in comparison to the other actors, but a use of the boxing skills he acquired for the rocky films still could have been used.
My personal favourite scene is Jason’s fight scene on the basketball court. After discovering his ex-girlfriend has been beaten by her new boyfriend, Jason’s character heads over and gives him and his friends one hell of a beating, really giving the audience something they want to see! Justice!
The match ups as the end of the movie are cool, but I think the best action would be Statham slicing guys apart with his knife. Hopefully the make the shots a little less narrow in the next film – this would make for an awesome action film.
Would I Recommend this Movie?
For cool explosions and action with a tiny bit of martial arts in it – this movie isn’t bad. If you want meaning, skip past it!