I love action movies, and Tina and I are huge Stallone fans (Judge Dredd is one of my top five favorite films of all time).  His style is usually more grim with more swagger and attitude than the other 80's action movie heroes.  He's not wisecracking after every kill shot and he has that snarl that is downright terrifying.  So when The Expendables hit theaters this month, I was more jumpy than a kid around Christmastime.

As it has been billed, this is one of the greatest ensemble action movies ever made.  It's a celebration of everything macho: guns, motorcycles, clever put-downs and comebacks, and tattoos.  Speaking of which, Stallone just became the coolest actor in Hollywood in my book as he showed off his exceptional quarter-sleeves.  I really like Stallone's directing style, though I would have to say that 2008's John Rambo was much more graphic and gritty than The Expendables.  Stallone's new film feelsa bit too polished and clean, the lighting is too professional, and it feels a bit stagey at times.  The grit and grime of John Rambo combined with the flair, wit, and gleefully-excessive action sequences would have been the perfect movie.  As it stands, The Expendables still kicks major ass and it is a heavy metal action bonanza that anyone with a pulse would enjoy.

However, I did have a couple issues with the film, one of which is not the film's fault.  Since China doesn't have a movie ratings system, all movies are general admittance, which means that every film released in Chinese cinemas have to trim any objectionable material, no matter what the target audience is.  That means that the Chinese version of The Expendables was somewhat neutered.  Several kill shots were going to be super cool and then...cut to the body falling to the ground.  Most of the violence was left intact, but there were just a few moments of fist-clenching frustration.

The other issue I have is with Jet Li.  If you look at the movie poster to the left, you will see Jet Li standing eye to eye with his fellow stars.  If the poster photo had been shot with everyone together, Li wouldn't be visible- he would be obscured by Stallone's mammoth shoulder.  Li's unimposing stature was brought up several times in the film to the point of being uncomfortable.  His character even had the gall to demand more money because he's smaller, and the bullet holes are subsequently bigger and the distances longer.  Now as an American, it's no big deal, but I felt that it might be a bit awkward for Chinese audiences to see one of their homegrown heroes mocked for a stereotypical Asian characteristic, even if it's true in Li's case.  Make no mistake, though, Li gets buck wild on many a bad guy's ass and his kung fu magic takes backstage to his bullet ballet skills.

In this movie age of impressive but hollow special effects blowouts and bumbling nerds finding themselves becoming the hero of the day, The Expendables is a refreshing blast of napalm to remind people that the big boys have and always will rule action empire.  You could literally feel the testosterone and HGH crackling in the often-talked-about scene with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis.  This film rocks, and I am definitely going to get my pirated copy of the real DVD the day it comes out.


08/28/2010 06:07

I guess I'll have to check this one out. I've always loved those put a super team together and kick some ass type movies, ala the Dirty Dozen, Seven Samurai, Magnificent 7, etc..

I don't know what it is, but I kinda get the same feeling of uncomfort when I am watching a movie with my wife and there is a little too much China or Chinese "mockery", even if it is legit and harmless. As you point out, it would not be a big deal in America or to an American, because if they had taken a world class American martial arts expert who was undersized and put him in the same role, he too would have been subject to the same jokes and potshots. One of the things I would love to see China and the Chinese adopt from the west is the ability to lose a bit of self conciousness and not worry so much about stuff like face and how they "stack up". I could go on about how detrimental this is to progress, but maybe some other time.

Now when I saw the poster my immediate thought wasn't about Li's size, but about his billing. I couldn't help but think Li was put right behind Stallone due in no small part to China's emerging spending power. I haven't seen the film and don't know how major his role is in it, but I couldn't help but think if the movie came out ten years ago Li would probably have been near the back.

Short jokes aside, if these guys on the poster put on a single elimination fighting tournament, Couture easily wins but Li would have my money for second place. So yeah, take a short joke once in a while, you guys still "measure up" in other ways.

08/28/2010 06:25

I might have found another reason for Li being placed up at the front with Statham on the other side. To make Stallone look taller.


08/28/2010 09:49

Haha, just checked out the link. Especially with Lundgren, he's a good six inches taller than Sly but in the poster he looks just a couple inches taller. It's funny how so many celebs are pretty average in height or even downright short. I saw the new Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz film last month and Diaz is a couple inches taller than Cruise in real life but he seemed taller than her on screen. If I was an action star, I'd be self-conscious about my height if my co-stars were bigger than me.


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