The Expendables 2 Review

The Expendables 2 Poster
Stallone. Statham. Schwarzenegger. Willis. Van Damme. Norris. Lundgren. Li. Crews. Couture. Somewhere, Steven Segal is sitting looking at his phone, still waiting for it to ring.

The Expendables 2 is a deeply, deeply stupid movie in which any problem that cannot be solved with a gun can be solved by using a bigger gun. It’s also a very smart movie, that uses the fact that you already know what the movie is going to be and delivers it.

I’m going to mostly avoid spoilers, however the movie is as predictable as the McBain films from The Simpsons. The character who, twenty minutes in, you just know is going to die at some point? Yeah, of course they die. Because it’s that kind of movie. And you know it’s going to happen pretty much the first time you see them. But that’s fine, because what The Expendables 2 is selling is predictability.

If you’ve seen the first movie, you’ve more or less seen this one. Some bad guys take over a place, and Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and…well, lots and lots of action stars commit unspeakable acts of violence until everything is okay again.

The main difference between this one and the last is that they’ve stopped even pretending to be taking it seriously. Any of the ‘dark’ scenes are done with tongue planted so firmly in cheek that they were getting some of the biggest laughs in the audience. It’s a film in which even the vehicles appear to have tattoos with phrases like ‘Lock and Load’ on them. It’s a film in which, as seen in the trailer, two major action stars get into a small electric car and fire machine guns out of the windows. It’s a film in which Jean Claude Van Damme kicks a knife into someone.

We also get to learn a little more about some of the characters, and the same easy charm continues from the last film. The stuff we learn doesn’t really mean anything, but that’s not important.

The biggest trick they really use is to use what we know about the actors as a short-hand for character. Stallone plays Stallone. Arnie plays Arnie. Chuck Norris plays Chuck Norris, along with jokes about Chuck Norris Facts. Dolph Lundgren plays Dolph Lundgren, even to the point of making jokes about his chemical engineering qualifications.

Is it a good movie? No, not at all. It’s stilted, it’s predictable and it’s deeply stupid and bordering on sexist. But is it fun? Yes. It’s a lot of fun, in exactly the same way as the McBain movies are. Imagine a film-length version of them, except with many more film actors other than an Arnie character. Then you’ve basically got The Expendables.

Nobody is going to see this expecting it to be anything other than what it is. And in terms of delivering what you expect, it succeeds perfectly. The opening scene is more over the top than anything from the previous movie. And there’s a lot of meta-humour going on. And the violence is dealt out in an entertaining way, and the new cast members mesh well with the returning ones.

So, if you liked the first one, this is more of the same. If you didn’t, it’s silly enough that you may prefer it, but it’s probably going to annoy you in the same way.

Teaser trailer for THE EXPENDABLES 2!

THE EXPENDABLES 2 teaser Poster
Uniting the biggest action star cast ever seen on screen, The Expendables 2 brings the iconic stars of the first film together with new additions including Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme for the most epic action extravaganza ever, set for UK cinema release in August 2012.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job.

The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six pounds of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world.

But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

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Bruce Lee, On Syfy!

Bruce Lee Fridays, 10pm every Friday in November on Syfy

(Sky channel 129, Virgin Media channel 135, Talk Talk channel 22)

Legend has it that Bruce Lee once kicked a horse under the chin. Its descendants are known today as giraffes.

Yes, while some martial artists are fast, others strong and one or two have the wisdom of an ancient philosopher, there has only ever been one Bruce Lee. He was the original kung fu megastar ? a wise, majestic and sublimely graceful master who persuaded a generation of men to shut the fridge door with a roundhouse kick while shouting the word ?hai-ya!? And now Syfy is kicking up a storm in memory of the action star who paved the way for the likes of Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen.

In THE WAY OF THE DRAGON (Friday 5 November) Lee plays a Hong Kong country boy helping a relative whose Chinese restaurant in Italy is threatened by vicious American karate experts. Former karate champion turned-actor Chuck Norris also takes a bow. Watch out for the gripping climax, when Lee and Norris fight to the death in Rome?s famous Colosseum.

Lee is at his death-defying best in FIST OF FURY (Friday 12 November) . The rivalry between the pupils of Chinese and Japanese martial arts schools gets out of hand when a student dies, leading to a battle that threatens to claim more lives. Lee is as charismatic as ever in this high-kicking adventure, with support from Nora Miao and James Tien.

GAME OF DEATH (Friday 19 November) will forever be tinged with tragedy as Lee was in the middle of shooting it when he died. A double was drafted in to complete the filming, with the resulting footage carefully edited together. The thriller co-starring Gig Young is well worth a look as it sees the man himself as an actor who fakes his own demise to wreak revenge on his enemies.

Finally, cinema buffs will be pleased to see Lee in one of his earliest roles in THE BIG BOSS (Friday 26 November). It?s the tale of an ice factory worker who decides it?s about time his crooked boss was punished for trafficking in heroin, and sets about the task himself. The furniture may take a bit of a pounding after watching these great movies as middle-aged men roll back the years and practise their roundhouse kicks, but in terms of pure entertainment, this celebration of a legend promises more fireworks than Bonfire Night.

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