This week marks the release of one of this year’s most highly anticipated action films: THE EXPENDABLES 3. As a big fan of this series, I can’t wait to see it! Yes, I acknowledge that the films themselves are dumb, mindless, clichéd action films that are neither well acted or well written, but for me personally I still have a lot of fun with them warts and all. I enjoyed them for what they as cheesy, over-the-top and entertaining action films. Nothing more, nothing less. Plus it’s also a good excuse to see all my favourite action stars get together to fight, punch, shoot and blow things up for a few hours. I know a lot of you action fans out there are going to be watching some of the star’s previous films in preparation for the release of this third (and possibly final) film in the series. So I thought it might be a good idea to help you all out a little by recommending some films that involve both stars and filmmakers of the third film (particularly ones that’ll be in the same tone as it). So without any further ado, here is my list of films to check out in preparation for THE EXPENDABLES 3
When Australian filmmaker Patrick Hughes was announced as the director of THE EXPENDABLES 3, I can imagine most people’s reaction would have been “who?”. In case you don’t know, he is the director of the low-budget Aussie modern action/western RED HILL. It’s a great debut film from Hughes and it doesn’t surprise me that Stallone picked him to direct the 3rd film (in a review I wrote about it a while ago here, I describe it as “the best John Carpenter film that John Carpenter himself never made”). While THE EXPENDABLES 3 will be very different from RED HILL in both style and tone, I’m still very much looking forward to seeing what Hughes brings to it.
It’s no secret that I have a lot of love for COMMANDO (you only have to hear the audio commentary that SuperMarcey, Nick and I did for it on the podcast here), which to me is the quintessential Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Okay, it’s not the best film he has appeared in, but it has all the hallmarks of what we look for in his films: quotable one-liners, awesome action, hilarious humour, spectacular over-the-top action and, of course, Arnie at his one man army best! How on Earth his character “John Matrix” didn’t become a Chuck Norris style internet meme I’ll never know.
AIR FORCE ONE
While Harrison Ford may not be the typical quote unquote traditional action star like the others on this list, but he definitely deserves his status as one mainly because he played three of film’s most iconic characters: Han Solo, Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan. However he has starred in other action films as well. The most popular one being AIR FORCE ONE, which was one of the most successful action films of the 90’s. It’s a hugely entertaining film and Ford’s character of “U.S. President James Marshall” was a bad arse president. Plus we can’t forget that the film also has one of the action genre’s most quotable one-liners ever: “GET OFF MY PLANE!”.
GET THE GRINGO
Mel Gibson has made a lot of great action films over his career (both the MAD MAX and LETHAL WEAPON films will always be legendary), but it’s his most recent one GET THE GRINGO (which he also co-wrote and produced) that’s definitely his most underrated. It’s a shame that it wasn’t a bigger hit because it was a pretty damn good action film if I say so myself. It was great to see Mel back into the type of action film roles that we all know and love him for. If you haven’t had seen this one yet, definitely check it out for sure. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy it!
SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO
Out of the action stars on this list, I have a lot of love for Dolph Lundgren (who I think is underrated as both an action star AND as an actor, believe it or not). I’ve enjoyed many of his films, but one of my favourites is definitely SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO. While it’s a very flawed film in many ways, but I always have a lot of fun with it. Dolph has a great character to play in this film and he had a great rapport with his co-star the late great Brandon Lee. Also the sword fight between him and the film’s villain Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was pretty cool!
One of the things I’m most looking forward to seeing in THE EXPENDABLES 3, is the return of Wesley Snipes. He has always been great action star but he’s high point in the genre came when he was cast as the title character in BLADE. Snipes took a very obscure Marvel Comic character and made him into the household name overnight. Snipes makes the role his own and his performances just oozes with so much awesomeness that it makes the film even more bad arse than it already is.
ROMEO MUST DIE
Even though Jet Li has been in better English language films, but I must admit that I’ve always had a strange soft spot for his first leading Hollywood vehicle ROMEO MUST DIE. I’ve revisited it many times over the years and, while isn’t a good film by any means, I always have a lot of fun watching it. For his first lead role in a major Hollywood film (although he made his Hollywood debut in a supporting role in LETHAL WEAPON 4, alongside EX3 big baddie Mel Gibson), Li does a good job and his fight scenes during the course of the film are fantastic.
It would be pretty easy to pick either DESPERADO or the ZORRO films for this one, I have to admit that one of my favourite Antonio Banderas action films is the underrated ASSASSINS (which he starred alongside his EX3 co-star Sylvester Stallone). I saw the film for the first time a couple of years ago and I was surprised how awesome it was. One of the main reasons why I liked it was Banderas, who did a great job as the film’s crazy and sociopathic villain “Miguel Bain”. He brought a lot of manic energy to the character and from what I’ve been hearing, he brings that same energy to his role EXPENDABLES 3. But this time its for a good guy/comedic role. That I can’t wait to see!
Other than the CRANK films, I honestly believe that TRANSPORTER 2 is one of the craziest films that Jason Statham has ever appeared in. While the first film was pretty solid straight-forward action film, this sequel is absolutely insane from beginning to end. I rewatched it again recently and I completely forgetten just how silly and over-the-top it was. But at the same time, that’s what makes it a complete blast to watch and why I think it’s the best one in the series. Plus the action/fight scenes in this film are just awesome. Sure the plot doesn’t make any sense at all, but it didn’t stop it from being any less fun. In fact it added to it!
RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD – PART 2
I’m not going to lie: the first time I saw this sequel, I didn’t really care for it at all. Mainly at the time I thought it was going to be more in the vein of the first film, but it was the complete opposite. However the second time I watched it, I got a lot more out of it and enjoyed it for what it was. While this sequel may lack the deep psychological aspects that made the first one so great but as a straight up action film, it kicks a lot of arse. This film was definitely the high point of Stallone’s action star status during the 80’s and as well as it marked the reason why he will always be the genre’s greatest stars.
BONUS FILMS: THE EXPENDABLES and THE EXPENDABLES 2
Of course if are going to check out THE EXPENDABLES 3, you have to watch the two previous films first. While they’re both different in their own ways (the first film being much more gritty and serious, while the second film is much more fun and humorous), but they still both deliver as kick arse action films nonetheless. However I will say that if you are going to check out the first one, make sure that it is the Director’s Cut version of it. To me that one was much better version than the Theatrical Cut.
– Bede Jermyn