Chivalry is alive in Sylvester Stallone’s world!
In “The Expendables”, a group of mercenaries take on a despotic, avaricious government to save a feisty girl (Giselle Itie). Stallone takes Jason Statham, Jet Li and his gang to the (mythical) South American island of Vilena to take on its army of hundreds, and we tag along for the ride in this testosterone fueled adventure.
At the heart of this once-in-a-lifetime ensemble of bigger-than-life action heroes, is their humorous, self-deprecating banters. Jet Li’s height becomes a running gag: At one point, Couture refers to their team as “four and a half”, then calls Li “Happy Feet”. The diminutive actor laughs it off with a rare grin, as he is further abused with a question, “What are you, a size 3?” Li isn’t the sole recipient of these tirades: Couture’s ears are called “flower ears” which he attributes to his young days of professional wrestling. (Do they pull ears off until they’re shaped as such?) Anyway, their explanation was attributed to blood clots that would retract the cartilage, which the pinna - that funnel shaped external ear - is made of.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo isn’t spared from these funny moments! When Stallone greets the California governor (after a grand entrance inside a church), Ah-nuld quips, “Did you get sick? You lost weight!” which Stallone replies with a curt, “The ones I lost, you found ‘em!” Schwarzenegger then begs off from a possible collaboration saying he’s too busy with more important things. “What’s up with him?” Bruce Willis asks Stallone. “He wants to be President!” When Eric Roberts, who gallantly plays Movie Bad Guy to all these “heroes” finds Dolph Lundgren, he remarks, “I’m not comfortable seeing giants with guns!” Lundgren is of course 6 foot 5 inches tall! Mickey Rourke, who plays the group’s resident philosopher tattooist, calls Jason Statham’s bald head as “Beautifully shaped. It would look good with (tattoo of) cobwebs around them.” Statham is unconventionally toothsome, and I didn’t realize how handsome he is when he beams. Statham seems humbled by his iconic company, but acquits himself more than adequately. Truth is, he must have smiled enough in this movie than all his movies combined – and I am not complaining!
Make no mistake! “The Expendables” delivers slam bang action with raw and old fashioned fisticuffs and explosive gun fighting. It makes you realize how much more realistic 80’s action movies were than present-day CGI-fueled actioner!
When the film opens with the mercenary group taking on those greedy Somali pirates, you somehow wish that John Rambo succeeded overthrowing Myanmar’s dictator rule! As well as blow to smithereens a dwarf’s rule from this country’s not too distant past!
That Jean Claude Van Damme decides to pass it up is really his loss. It would have been a singular moment back in the A-list spotlight. What, is he happy with his “Universal Soldier: Regeneration”? Or the Thailand movie, “The Eagle’s Path”?
Looks like a sequel is a good possibility. I can’t wait!