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The International Writers Magazine: DVD Review

The Expendables
Directed by and starring Sylvester Stallone
Dean Borok review
Nobody is more sensible than I to the allure of seeing somebody lose his dental work in a flood of sputum as the result of a perfectly aimed flying hook kick. More’s the pity, therefore, of the editing of the fight scenes in Sylvester Stallone’s latest production, “The Expendables”.


The fight scenes are edited too sharply, depriving the audience of the visceral rush that comes of savoring those instances of payback that sell movie tickets. Fortunately that disappointment over the fight scenes is mitigated by new incendiary bullets that explode inside the victim, reducing him to a bloody shower of gore.

This latest extravaganza, directed by Stallone, is embarrassed by a plethora of talent that has nothing to do. The storyline is straightforward enough: Stallone’s gang rescues a tasty piece of Latin female flesh from the torture chamber of a rogue CIA agent who has taken over a sleepy Caribbean island for purposes of cocaine production. Unfortunately, Jason Stratham, of the “Transporter” series and Jet Li, the notable Asian martial arts performer, are mostly used as sidekicks for Stallone who, despite being spectacularly ripped, can’t fight for shit.

Stallone mostly flails his arms, throwing roundhouse shots like a sissy. His fighting technique has not improved since the first “Rocky”. Stratham and Li, who both can fight, are left to suck wind in this, yet another, vanity project showcasing Stallone. The most satisfying line of the movie for me came when, after suffering a majestic thrashing at the hands of a genuinely tough villain, Stallone laments to Stratham, “I just got my ass kicked!”

A lot of other good talent is wasted in this production. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger get walk-on roles, and Mickey Rourke is cast as a pipe-smoking tattoo artist, I kid you not.

Not that I have any problem with male-oriented action cinema. Women’s movies don’t go anywhere, and psychological thrillers bore me stiff. Stallone has actually done a lot to advance cinematic art. His 1976 “Rocky”, which was a throwback to 1940’s boxing movies, did a lot to shake Hollywood out of the soporific stupor that was a result of the nation’s desire for complacency after Vietnam and Watergate.

Unfortunately, following the ancient rule of thumb that you become what you hate most, Stallone, who was a Vietnam draft dodger, resolved to make a pile of money portraying “Rambo”, a jungle superhero capable of decimating an entire NVA battalion, which soured me on him. Nevertheless, between “Rocky” and “Rambo” sequels, Stallone has been able to thrive into a minor empire.

blast “The Expendables” is a feast for the eyes if you enjoy watching well-stacked women and chiseled tough guys, which I do. Thirty years I have been hitting the weight room, and I don’t look anywhere near as nice as those sumbitches. Stallone’s camera loves huge, ripped pectorals and marbleized forearms. When I see that, I am motivated to keep my shirt on. Maybe it’s something I’m not doing wrong.

Never mind that. Stallone is no kid – he’s over 60. He is helping to define the new world order by coming back again and again with “Rocky” – “Rambo” sequels, showing people that you don’t have to make way for the younger generation. It’s a cold shower for young people who are anticipating the flow of attrition to smooth their way to power.
© Dean Borok April 2011

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