Back in 2010, Sly Stallone decided to direct and give us a cast assemble movie called The Expendables supposedly to be comprising of iconic 80s and 90s action stars. The movie is expendable. Didn't work for me. Sure, there's Sly himself, and Arnie and Brucie, but both in a fleeting moment of appearance and the rest is, well...not really vintage 80s muscle men actors whose stereotypical silver screen role is as a one man army with the mission to take out the entire army of some Third World countries dictator or megalomaniac with the plan to take over the world. Usually it would involve the bad guys taking hostage of the hero's love ones or care about, and he is forced to unleash hell against them. There would be some exotic foreign countries maiden in distress thrown in as love interest. But the most important ingredient of it all is that it has had to be loud, over the top action all the way. Bullets, bombs, missiles will automatically miss the hero. The most is a single sratch or a flesh wound of which the hero will grimaced in pain as if he's dying but bounce back with an anger taking up to another level. A single shot from a pistol will result in a logic defying massive explosion equivalent to a WMD. Or mowing down hundreds, thousands of enemy troops with just a machine gun that will never run out of bullets and never miss. And of course, the final one on one fist fight against the boss or his extremely skillful right hand man. That's the 80s classic. Think the Rambo sequels, Commando, Die Hard series etc. And no actors epitomised those era better than by now extinct franchise Planet Hollywood boys and founders, Sly, Arnie and Brucie. Of course there's also Chuck, Van Damme, Seagal and Lundgren. And from Hong Kong, there's Jackie, Mr. Chow and Jet "Wong Fei Hung" Li. The first movie is a disappointment to me and forgetful, 'cept for the resurging Mickey Rourke (but does he really qualify as the bona fide 80s action star? All I remember is him in 9½ Weeks ;).
Moving forward this year. Not many memorable movies. Prometheus, Abe Lincoln as the vampire slayer. Sigh. Maybe because I didn't have time to watch more movies in the first place. Maybe I did but rehash of old, classic ones. So when I got meself some time to actually sit down and catch a flick, I picked up The Avengers and The Expendables 2. I watched the former first, and it does not disappoint like others this year. A good balance of superheroes fun and action. Then...there's The Expendables 2.
Yawning and approaching with caution as I slot the DVD into the player, I told myself, well, as least I got to watch a movie that can make me go to sleep easy (I've had problem with sleeping lately). That's a positive note.
Lo and behold. The opening sequence has had gotta be one of the most over the top action scene I had seen since..I dunno when. And the manner of which it is executed, crazy. And then there's all the cheesy, rice paper thin 80s action movie plot lines, over the top action scenes, and more crucially, the inclusion of humorous banters between characters, most poking fun on their other larger than life roles as various action heroes characters - in particular the one between Arnie and Brucie (now that's classic) - caught me with my PJs down, totally. Under different director, Simon West (Con Air), this sequel should what the first could have been. An action movie which doesn't pretend to be one. For guy like me whom is pushing 40, and whom was still a young kid in the VHS days, watching these fellas wreaking havoc and seemingly having a great time reliving the golden age of action movies, a wave of nostalgia sweeps through me as the credit rolls. I mean, these guys are pushing 60, some 70. There might not be another chance to see them romping and mowing down the bad boys anymore. Rourke did not re-appear, Statham is still around (and commanded one of the most breathtaking action sequence in a Russian church), Couture, Crews and Chris Hemsworth, I mean, Liam Hemsworth and an unknown token Asian beauty, Yu Nan. Li appears for a split second this time 'round. Casting the Muscles from Brussels Van Damme as the villian is unusual but it works fine. I don't care. As long as I get to see him on silver screen with the rest of the boys.
Word 'round the campfire is that there is a strong indication for a third instalment. 'Ere's hoping to see Snipes (once he's out from prison next year due to some income tax returns related issue) and Seagal in the next one. One last word. I just wish Sly would include Jackie Chan or even Mr. Chow. Now, that would round up the best of the 80s action movie stars.