The Expendables 2 (2012)


I’m Not Gonna Hurt You.  I’m Gonna Take Your Life.

The Expendables 2 (2012)The reason for watching today’s movie was clear.  Why did I watch it?  Because fuckin’ man-tits-balls-ass-‘splosions Mountain Dew!  That’s why!!  Also, I reviewed the first one and the second one just came out in RedBox.  These two movies were very popular with men far more manly than I am, and the first one didn’t do much for me, but it wasn’t bad and had good action.  When they came out with a sequel, I wasn’t really inspired enough to see it in theaters even though Rotten Tomatoes told me it was better than the first.  I knew its time would come eventually.  And that time is now, so let’s get into my review of The Expendables 2, written (allegedly) by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone, directed by Simon West, and starring Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Liam Hemsworth, Yu Nan, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Adkins, Jet Li, and Charisma Carpenter.

Though it has nothing to do with the story proper, The Expendables – leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), knife-thrower (and brother of Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber) Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), heavy-weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitionist Toll Road (Randy Couture), crazy dude Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), and the new guy sniper Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) – go to Nepal to rescue some doctor and the captured mercenary Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Yang inexplicably leaves the group and doesn’t return.  CIA operative Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) replaces one Asian for another – a technical expert named Maggie Chan (Yu Nan) – and sends him on a mission to retrieve something out of a safe.  While they go, Billy goes through a checklist of all the things he can say that means he’s going to get killed soon.  The team then encounter Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who shockingly kills Billy.  After they recover, the Expendables set out for revenge.

I find that I am not nearly manly enough to forgive the problems of a movie like this.  The action is good, but the story is really predictable and the dialogue is painfully bad in parts.  The most predictable thing in this movie by far is the death of Liam “Handsome McSnipey” Hemsworth.  Generally I would expect movie makers to try to avoid clichés, especially if they’re going to want something to have some emotional impact in a little while.  But they did the whole checklist.  It was like the scene near the end of Black Dynamite, except this movie wasn’t a parody.  It was like, “I know I’m the new guy on the team that the audience would be less attached to – and I’m also the least famous person in this jet right now – but I’m so happy we’ve all gotten so attached so quickly that you guys will take it really hard if I die.  Not that I’m going to, though.  I have so much to live for.  This is my last mission until I retire and return to my girlfriend who loves me.  I can’t wait to not have a knife kicked into my chest by Jean-Claude Van Damme!”  After that, the rest of the movie could be summed up with “Revenge.”  I guess technically the entire story of the movie could just be summed up with, “New guy gets killed.  Team sad.  Revenge.”  A predictable action movie story is … well … predictable to me.  I guess bad dialogue is as well, but this movie still caught me off guard with how bad the dialogue was.  The cheesy “Chill out” from Batman & Robin lines are one thing, but they really hit us hard with the bad jokes about these action stars past careers.  You get “I’m back” and “You’ve been back enough” for Schwarzenegger, someone says “Yippee Kay Yay” to Willis, and they even drop a Chuck Norris fact or two for the be-bearded one.  I do appreciate having their careers referenced, but I would rather they do so with funny lines, not ones that may have given me an ulcer.  I don’t know if it’s an ulcer, I just know I’m shitting blood after watching it.  Perhaps I’ve disclosed too much …  I did get a minor smirk out of the Chuck Norris fact they used, but there’s also a very good chance it was just on the website and they just took it.  It was, “I was bitten by a King Cobra once but, after 5 days of agonizing pain, the Cobra finally died.”

One thing about this movie that I would not argue with would be that the action is interesting.  I know Stallone didn’t direct this movie, but the way action is done in his movies ever since the newest Rambo movie seems to be at his influence and I really appreciate how it looks.  It’s some strange mixture of realistic and gruesome while simultaneously being over the top and bombastic.  Shooting an enemy turns them into a bag of blood and gore and they get knocked back 20 feet by a single bullet or a hand-thrown knife hitting them in the chest.  The gunplay – and even the knife-play – was interesting to watch.  Some of the hand-to-hand stuff was interesting, but strangely it was worse when it involved the two best fighters: Randy Couture and Jet Li.  I don’t think Stallone knows how to set up martial arts, but he puts someone like Jet Li in a movie anyway.  In the first movie, I recall finding Jet Li’s fight scene disappointing, and I don’t even recall Randy Couture having one.  In this movie, Jet Li starts off with a decent fight in the beginning, but never again.  And the only thing I remember Couture doing that was vaguely in his ballpark was pinning a guy against a wall and throwing an elbow at his head.  Kind of underwhelming for the shit I’ve seen those two guys do in the past.  I would say that I appreciated most of the fight between Stallone and Van Damme.  It was pretty well done.  There were also some cars that were totally Mad Maxed out in the beginning, and there was also a part where they seemed to steal a scene from another movie.  It was when Stallone was surrounded and out of ammo and he acted like his finger was a gun, only to have his fake shooting backed up by a real sniper killing the guys.  I’m pretty sure that was something Chris Evans did in Losers.

The performances were what you’d expect.  Maybe a little better.  Not great, but I could imagine going into this movie thinking that these guys couldn’t even string words together.  But this movie is so gangnamed dripping with testosterone that I failed a random drug test after watching it.  I WOULD’VE WON THE TOUR DE FRANCE!  But everything in this movie is Orange County Choppers and Ed Hardy shit with skulls all over them.  Stallone even uses a pen in this movie that looked like he soldered trinkets from Hot Topic all over it.  Of course, the biggest thing to say about the cast of this movie is that it’s slathered with big name action stars.  The problem with that is that most of them are really showing their age.  Most of them still look ripped physically, but Stallone’s face looks like he got mauled by bees and Van Damme has alien eyes when he takes the sunglasses off.  I was also confused by Yu Nan.  She did a fine job in the movie, but I was confused about why he didn’t go for some JCVD version of an Asian actress for the role.  There are much bigger Asian actresses he might have been able to get!  He could’ve gotten Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Q, Michelle Yeoh, or any number of Asian actresses that were already known to Americans.  She just seemed out of place.

The Expendables 2 was roughly what I expected out of it.  Good action, soaked in testosterone and explosions on one hand, and the other hand is filled by blunt writing and dialogue so bad it gave me an aneurism.  And there’s really nothing to say about the performances in this movie; everyone in the world should have seen at least one movie with most of these guys featured.  And if you haven’t, then you’re probably not going to see this movie no matter what I say.  Otherwise, it’s fine enough for a watch.  Especially to make fun of.  The Expendables 2 gets “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man … and knife” out of “Who’s next, Rambo?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Rocky IV (1985)


He’s Not a Machine, He’s a Man!

I was excited to finally reach this sequel in the Rocky franchise, mainly because I work with the guy that played the opponent in this movie.  I know that many of the people around my place of business claim that his name is Tim, but I am 100% positive that he’s actually Ivan Drago.  When I think of the Rocky franchise, this is often the movie that I immediately go to in my mind.  It’s nowhere near the best movie in the series, but something about this movie makes me regard it as the pinnacle of the series.  Let’s see if I’m able to put the reason into words in my review of Rocky IV, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Brigitte Nielsen, Michael Pataki, Tony Burton, Burt Young, Dominic Barto, Rocky Krakoff, Sylvia Meals, and James Brown.

A gigantic Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) arrives in America with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), his manager Nicolai Koloff (Michael Pataki), and an idea to prove himself as the best boxer ever.  Retired former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gets it in his head that he should challenge Drago to an exhibition match to prove that he’s not over the hill.  His old friend and twice rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) try to talk Apollo out of it, but he’s got something to prove.  And what is that?  That he is so stupid that he’ll refuse to let someone stop the fight that he’s clearly losing so that it will result in him being beaten to death in the ring.  You did it, Apollo!  Not to be outdone on the stupid front, Rocky challenges Ivan to a fight in the USSR.  I assume that, if Rocky wins, Apollo will come back to life.  Otherwise what’s the point?

I would say this movie is probably the best example of why women don’t seem that interested in watching the first Rocky movie.  It’s incredibly cheesy in parts and the motivation for the entire movie is testosterone.  It exemplifies the things that I hate about those kinds of testosterone driven men.  “I’m rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I’m going to fight a giant until he kills me because I don’t want people to think I’m over the hill.”  “I’m clearly not doing anything in this fight and, in fact, am getting killed, but don’t you dare throw in the towel because being bludgeoned to death by a gigantic Russian and leaving my wife a grieving widow is preferable to losing a fight and being called washed up.”  “I too am rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I will fight the giant that just murdered my friend with punches because … well … he murdered my friend with punches.  And I don’t want to get paid for it either.”  If this is the kind of intelligence that testosterone allows, I’m going to stop taking those injections and tell the doctor to give me my vagina back.  Speaking of stupid, what the fuck was with the robot in this movie?  Rocky gives a 6 foot robot to Paulie as a gift.  It gets like a half hour of screen time in this movie!  It’s a major plot point somehow!  As mentioned with the other movies, this movie definitely follows the classic Rocky pattern.  Something happens, Rocky gets depressed, Rocky trains really hard, Rocky triumphs.  The training montage made me laugh too, mainly because Rocky’s method of “training” would be what all the people around him in Russia would call “chores”, and Drago was training on the deck of the Enterprise.  Rocky’s little speech at the end was pretty bad and stupid as well.  I understand that Stallone probably wanted to bring about change in what was probably some tension between America and the Soviet Union (I’ll have to assume because I was two when this movie came out), but I feel pretty confident that a boxer punching one of their boxers and making a hair-brained speech afterwards would not change foreign policies.  Especially when his big speech is, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”  Depending on how loosely you define “you”, then yeah, that’s basically the definition of “everybody”.

I mentioned one of the greatest things that the Rocky series had introduced me to in the previous movie when I mentioned that they brought the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” to the limelight.  I have a certain appreciation for cheesy 80’s music that gets you amped up, and this movie threw three new ones at us.  “No Easy Way Out” is another kick ass song, an equal to “Eye of the Tiger” in my opinion.  It would’ve been nice if the song wasn’t used over a really bad montage of filler, though.  All of those scenes had nothing to do with each other, and I’m not sure what they were trying to say with the montage.  It was just like, “What scenes were cool from the other three movies and even the beginning of this one?  SMASH THEM TOGETHER!!”  Survivor didn’t want to be left out of the cheese so they threw “Burning Heart” into the movie.  I would say the cheesiest one was “Hearts on Fire”, but I still enjoyed it.

This movie continues the trend started in the previous movie of changing all the characters.  Rocky became well-spoken, Adrian was no longer shy, and Mickey was no longer into breathing.  In this movie, they even changed Paulie.  All of the earlier movies had Burt Young playing the role of a very unlikeable person that Rocky kept around for reasons that were never explained.  He was always jealous of Rocky’s success, but was himself a complete loser with no likeable qualities.  He’s still not likeable, but he’s become more like comic relief in this movie.  Dolph Lundgren did fine as Ivan Drago, but didn’t have to do very much beyond being physically intimidating and force out a couple of words like, “If he dies, he dies,” and, “I will break him.”  I was also surprised to see Brigitte Nielsen and Michael Pataki in this movie.  Michael Pataki surprised me because I hadn’t put together that the guy from Sidehackers and The Baby was his manager until this viewing.  I knew Brigitte Nielsen was in this movie, but I was surprised to find that she actually used to be attractive, whereas now she looks like a Barbie doll that got left in the microwave.

Rocky IV is super cheesy, but not without a certain degree of enjoyment.  The story follows the same pattern as the rest of the Rocky movies, but this time with a Russian and a dumb speech that shows the world that we can all change, but only if a punch drunk goon tells us to.  The writing is dumb and predictable, and this one is exactly the testosterone driven dumbness that some people wrongly expect from the original, but it’s still kind of fun in a campy way.  And it has the most memorable opponent of the Rocky series in it, so you have to watch it.  Rocky IV gets “Whatever he hits, he destroys” out of “You will lose.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Expendables (2010)


Welcome to the third installment in my “Prove I’m Not Gay” movies, following the back to back reviews of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sex and the City.  This particular movie could be argued as being the anti-chick flick.  Make a movie that includes almost every action star you could think of, add lots of explosions, forget to write a story, and even throw in a little love story for no reason and you have this movie.  This movie is The Expendables, starring … well … think of an action movie star and input their name here.  And, just to be helpful, it stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, David Zayas, Steve Austin, Charisma Carpenter, Eric Roberts, Giselle Itie, and have Arnold Schwarzenegger (yeah, I copied it off of a website.  Who wouldn’t?), Bruce Willis, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.  Any action stars you thought of that weren’t here will probably be in the sequel.

This story should be easy enough.  Stallone, Statham, Crews, Li, Lundgren, and Couture are the Expendables, an elite group of mercenaries.  In the beginning, they get onto a boat and kill a bunch of pirates holding hostages.  Lundgren goes a little nuts and tries to “break” someone, and if he dies, he dies.  Rambo has to kick him out of the group.  Then the Transporter’s girlfriend dumps him for a douche.  Black Mask wants more money.  Couture is sad about his ear.  Crews makes his tittie muscles dance.  So McClane gives Rocky a mission to kill a general somewhere and John Matrix turns down the mission.  So Judge Dredd and Chev Chelios go there and find out Eric Roberts, with his bodyguard Stone Cold Steve Austin, are really bad, and Cobretti falls in love with the general’s daughter.  Then they go back and kill everybody.

This movie is exactly what everyone expects it to be.  Dumb but exciting.  There is kind of a story to this movie, but it’s very typical and entirely predictable.  Surprising as it may be, Stallone actually has the ability to write some good dialogue from time to time.  He didn’t do that here.  It’s either really cliched or very confusing.  There were times that I was wondering “Why are they talking about this right now?”  And there’s a black guy that’s one of the pirates in the very beginning that both cannot act and cannot be understood.  I think that was a wise choice.

The cast is probably the biggest draw of this movie.  As I said, practically every living action star is in this movie at one point, and the ones that weren’t probably just couldn’t find the time to get in there.  They should’ve just had Van Damme walk by in the background at one point.  Sly looks really weird to me in this movie.  I know the man’s getting old, but he’s still ripped to shreds in this movie.  There are so many veins in this man’s arm that I would argue he had to have some surgically implanted.  But his face looks like he’s had Cher-esque work done.  The rest of the cast is exactly what you expect from them.  Except, maybe, for Jet Li.  For some reason, Jet Li gets his ass kicked in this movie by most people.  If you ask me, I bet Li could beat down everyone on this cast save for maybe Randy Couture.  The other person here is Mickey Rourke, who actually puts on a pretty good, emotion charged performance at one point, regardless to how shitty the dialogue he’s delivering is.  You should give the man an Oscar just for that.

The action is the other draw to this movie.  The fight scenes are pretty good, though I’d actually expect better from such a cast.  But they go more for gun play than for fights.  The other nice thing about this movie is that Sly wanted as many of the explosions and action scenes to be practical as they could manage.  So the shit that blows up into gigantic fireballs actually happened, and looks like it.  Also, I don’t know how he managed, and I believe it started with the newest Rambo, but Sly’s movies pull off some really brutal deaths.  I’ve seen it in things since but I don’t remember it before Rambo where it started to look uncomfortably realistic at times.  I’m cool with it though.  Good work.

So that’s that.  As I said, this movie is exactly what you expect of it.  It’s kind of worth seeing, but you probably won’t be impacted that much by it.  It’s explosions and deaths are cool, but everything else kind of sucks.  I give this movie “Rent it once, and then again in a few months when you’ve forgotten everything about it” out of 786.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.