August 16, 2012

The Expendable Essentials

The wait is almost over! The Expendables 2 is almost here!! So, how does an action fan spend their last few hours (that will feel like weeks) to keep from chewing their nails down to the bone? Easy; they rewatch the original film (Director’s Cut of course), listen to the music scores for both installments, watch some of the best actioners starring each of The Expendables and after that… they get so desperate, that they decide to write a blog about doing all of that.

Each of the actors in The Expendables 2 has already made a name for themselves in some respect to the action genre. These guys were all brought together because of their abilities to kick a little (or, a lot of) ass. So, what are The Expendables “best of the best”? There are some that will be more difficult than others. But, here is my attempt at narrowing down The Expendables finest solo adventures as action’s finest.


Sylvester Stallone: Sly is the epitome of what an action legend is. He has done it all. He started as a sports hero. No… THE sports hero in the Rocky series. He became THE one man army in the Rambo series, and even had successful portrayals in the buddy cop genre (Tango & Cash), the hitman genre (The Specialist), the comic hero genre (Judge Dredd), the reluctant hero genre (Cliffhanger) and even the attempt at the action comedy genre. But in the end, I am just not sure how anyone could argue Rambo: First Blood Part II to be his (if not cinema’s) finest action moment!

Simon West: The director has had his ups and downs throughout his career. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was criticized by many and When a Stranger Calls was flat out better off forgotten. The General’s Daughter and The Mechanic were both noble efforts. But without a doubt, the film that defines Simon West best would have to be his directorial debut Con Air. If The Expendables 2 has anywhere near to the feel of ensemble cast magic and flat out fun action that Con Air did, then I feel certain that we are in for a treat!

Jason Statham: This man has made his name synonymous with the word cool in a relatively short time. He had a great jump start with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. And since then, he has had the opportunity to prove that he has some acting chops with such films as Snatch and The Italian Job, brought a little class to an otherwise classless Ghost of Mars and surprised nay sayers by making successful franchises out of Crank and Death Race. But for me, his moment of action moments has been his turn as Frank Martin. Better known as The Transporter.

Jean-Claude Van Damme: JCVD spent most of his prime years of action in the shadow of those that came before him. His earlier films that got lost in the shuffle of video stores are actually very entertaining action pictures. From Bloodsport and Cyborg, to Kickboxer and Lionheart, he spent much time paying his dues and honing his skills and acting. He finally hit the mark with action fans when Universal Soldier was released and then followed that with a string of successes like Hard Target and Sudden Death. But his essential film in his contributions to action would arguably have to be Timecop.

Dolph Lundgren: Dolph has unjustly spent much of his career playing second string to other actors or disappearing into direct to video limbo. But, it doesn’t change the fact that he has had his share of worthy action films over the years. I always felt that Cover Up got a bit of a bum rap. Showdown in Little Tokyo and Men of War are great fun! Anyone who has overlooked Red Scorpion should remedy that ASAP. His contributions to The Universal Soldier franchise will always be regarded as his biggest accomplishments by many and with just reason. But again for me, the dark and gritty Punisher from 1989 will always showcase for me how underrated he is, not only as an actor, but as a big guy that has some great moves in a fight!

Randy Couture: It’s hard to believe that a dude who is one of the baddest muthas on the planet, could just so happen to also seem to be one of the nicest guys on the planet. Randy’s resume isn’t the deepest right now, but with recent impressive turns in Setup and Hijacked, I think it’s fair to say that action fans could be in for a treat in the future. I believe that The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior was a bit over criticized, considering its budget and lack of star power. But, Randy brought his “A” game and oh, by the way… dude was a beast in it!

Terry Crews: Like Randy, Terry has had a smaller amount of action films in regards to the others. Let’s face it Terry; no matter what you accomplish from here, you will never live down the Old Spice gig. But, he made a good attempt at it, with roles in Terminator: Salvation, Street Kings and Baadassssss! Even though his role was limited in it, The 6th Day is still his best role that brought out the mean in him.

Jet Li: This dude has been kicking guys twice his size butts for over 30 years. The Legend 1 & 2, Black Mask, Hero and War just to name a few. His best moment was when he got to showcase his skills and prove that you don’t even have to speak a word, or be big for that matter, to be intimidating when he played the menacing Wah Sing Ku in Lethal Weapon 4.

Scott Adkins: Admittedly, I have not seen a lot of Adkin’s work. But, for the utmost authority on everything that there is to know about how much ass he can kick, defer to Eoin. But from what I have seen in El Gringo and Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, he deserves his turn in the spotlight.

Chuck Norris: It could be argued that Chuck Norris’ claim to fame come from either his turns on television as Walker, Texas Ranger or Martial Law. But, the man has made his share of action staples in his career, with the likes of A Force of One, Missing in Action 1, 2 & 3, The Octagon and The Delta Force. But, his shining moment may have to come from Invasion U.S.A.

Bruce Willis: Like Sly, Bruno has played it all. He played the sports hero in Pulp Fiction (and really flexed his acting chops), played the average guy in extraordinary circumstances more than a few times in films such as Hostage, Striking Distance, The Last Boy Scout and 16 Blocks. He has even saved the world his share of times in The Fifth Element and Armageddon. But obviously, there will never be a substitute for John McClane in Die Hard.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: So many iconic films. Where to begin? Red Heat, Commando, The Running Man, True Lies and of course Total Recall. (The original, not extra crispy.) He even reinvented the definition of “the action hero” by playing a character of himself in The Last Action Hero. It can be argued that his Terminator trilogy would be his most epic of epic. But, when it comes to old school action scenes, explosions, cursing platoon buddies and all around badassery, the likes that we all hope to see in The Expendables 2, I gotta go with Predator.


So, there you have it. Every film that you will need in preparation of the big event! Which for some may only be a matter of hours now! So, get out there, enjoy the fun and support old school action this weekend folks!

About the Author

Brian M
Movies have been a big part of my life since the creation of the VCR. They have always been a way for me to escape. The action genre allowed that feeling more than any other, because the heroes in these films were living in an ordinary world, but were doing extraordinary things. Watching action movies encourages my imagination to explore while I am doing even the most mundane thing and make it exciting. Don't be afraid to use your imagination and keep action alive, no matter how old you get.



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