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Review: The Expendables 2

Aug. 15, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Thanks to their antics in the first film, The Expendables leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) is in hoc to shadowy CIA agent Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to the tune of $5 million. His only way to get off Churchs shit list is to take a Chinese agent, Maggie (Nan Yu) into Albania to retrieve the cargo of a downed airplane. While there, Ross and the team are ambushed by Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and his own crew of mercenaries. After they murder a key member of the team, the others vow to get even, following Vilain and his crew deep into Eastern Europe for a major showdown.

REVIEW: In every way bigger and better than the first film, THE EXPENDABLES 2 is super-charged adrenaline rush that makes up in brawn whatever it lacks in brains. By comparison, the first film- which I flipped for a couple of years ago (not that its held up that well in repeat viewings) is pretty wimpy, with this one truly delivering the kind of epic action youd expect from such burly cast of action gods.

Right from the start, its obvious that EXPENDABLES 2 has a significantly bigger budget than the first film, with the scale of the opening assault on an army base in Nepal being about three times the size of the first films South American finale. Literally millions of rounds of ammo are spent as Sly, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, and new recruit Liam Hemsworth as Slys protg, wreak havoc and amass a body count that has to be in the hundreds.

From there, the film admittedly loses some steam for awhile, with the crew heading stateside, and Sly getting them into dutch with Willis. Dialogue was not one of the first films strengths, and there are some groaners here too (such as Lundgrens reaction to a parachuting Jet Li- this gives new meaning to Chinese take-out). Hemsworth, as the wide-eyed innocent of the team decides to call it quits after one more go-round with the gang, and tells a story about his dog that died in Afghanistan that laid it on a little thick for my tastes- but its not as bad as all that. I actually dug the surrogate father-son bond between the aging Sly, and the young Hemsworth. Still, this is by far the dullest part of the flick.

Luckily, bad guy JCVD shows up to wreak some Van Dammage (having his own badass sidekick in Scott Adkins) - sending Sly and co., on a mission of vengeance. This is Van Dammes first time on the big screen in a while, and he looks fit and focused, and chews lots of scenery as a villain thats appropriately epic for this kind of film. I especially liked hearing Van Damme mangle the pronunciations of words like plutonium, as his crazy line readings have always been the thing about him I enjoyed most (say what you will about his acting- but the dudes having fun).

Once Sly and co., take off after JCVD, the film picks up right where the nutty opening left off, giving us a solid 45 minutes or so of pure carnage. The violence here is ramped up to ultra-violent levels, although I suspect this was still shot as PG-13, and then brought to an R with some cgid gore and dismembering, as their isnt a single usage of profanity in the film. Hmmmm

But never fear, the action delivers and there are some funny, gory jokes that would have been lost with a lower rating, and add to the hyper-stylized vibe of the film. The cast is game, with Sly once again getting the lions share of screen-time. He still looks to be in as crazy shape as he was in the first film, and his final, epic fight with Van Damme doesnt disappoint. I love seeing hand-to-hand fights in movies like this, and this bout, coupled with a nifty scrap between Adkins and Statham, are very satisfying.

Statham is once again regulated to the sidekick role, serving mostly as Slys foil, but he still gets a couple of big set-pieces, including a badass knife fight in a church (leading to the immortal line I pronounce you man and KNIFE). Jet Li is really only on board for a quick cameo, and I almost wonder why they bothered at all, as hes in it less than the cameoing heavy hitters like Arnie and Bruce. Lundgren, who was briefly a baddie in the first film, is back in the fold here; and serves as the comic relief- with lots of in-jokes satirizing his past as a Fulbright scholar, and MIT student. Randy Couture and Terry Crew mostly hang back, although they each get in some good lines. Newcomers Nan Yu and Hemsworth exist mainly to humanize Sly.

Which brings me to Bruce, Arnie, and CHUCK NORRIS

Bruce isnt in this much more than he was in the first film, but he gets in on the action a bit towards the end. Arnie, in his first role since ending his stint as Governor of California has a fairly significant part- maybe not a full-on supporting role, but more than a cameo. Like Van Damme, he seems to be relishing his return to the big-screen, and most of his dialogue consists of jokey one-liners, and knowing references to his big-screen past, and that of his co-stars. And CHUCK NORRIS? While hes not on-screen long, hes used hilariously well, in a way that slyly acknowledges his internet fame (using a fact as dialogue), and apparent immortality (in two scenes, CHUCK NORRIS probably kills more baddies than anyone else).

Behind the scenes, Sly, who directed the first film, stepped down as director, turning over the reins to Simon West. While I loved CON AIR, his other films havent done much for me- but with the big budget, West is obviously able to cut loose, and this is the most energetic film hes done since that one- and he adopts a similar tongue-in-cheek tone (although this may partially be due to Slys script, or the obvious ad-libbing Arnie did).

While Im certainly guilty of getting carried away in nostalgia in my review of the first film, Im confident that THE EXPENDABLES 2 is going to satisfy all the action junkies who might have been underserved by the last one. Its not perfect, a lot of the dialogue is still clunky, and there are some slow spots- but THE EXPENDABLES 2 is still a fing blast. If youre a fan of any of the icons in the cast (who isnt?), this is for you.

Extra Tidbit: CHUCK NORRIS must only be typed in caps. Otherwise CHUCK NORRIS may get angry. I don't want to make CHUCK NORRIS angry.
Source: JoBlo.com

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6:24PM on 08/19/2012

Van Damme's face..

The movie was OK, the intro scene was much better than the entire first movie, but I noticed something wrong.. Van Damme's face kinda looked messed-up, like it had some bad make-up on it, or maybe CGI-ed it maybe to erase his wrinkles?? Mostly around his mouth, it looked paler than the rest of his face.. That was kind of annoying..
The movie was OK, the intro scene was much better than the entire first movie, but I noticed something wrong.. Van Damme's face kinda looked messed-up, like it had some bad make-up on it, or maybe CGI-ed it maybe to erase his wrinkles?? Mostly around his mouth, it looked paler than the rest of his face.. That was kind of annoying..
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+1
5:32PM on 08/16/2012
good action movie, it's bring back nice memories when i still on elementary school, the memorable scenes in when chuck norris came out, it's hilarious!, love the old school action, the comedy between the character, memorable quotes about "king cobra" ^^ , so please bring me the expendables 3 for sure!!! and don't bring your girlfriends to watch this movie, it's just for man movie
good action movie, it's bring back nice memories when i still on elementary school, the memorable scenes in when chuck norris came out, it's hilarious!, love the old school action, the comedy between the character, memorable quotes about "king cobra" ^^ , so please bring me the expendables 3 for sure!!! and don't bring your girlfriends to watch this movie, it's just for man movie
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4:13AM on 08/16/2012

RANDY COUTURE?

oh yeah he was the one with cauliflower ears that didn't do much of anything!
I would have rather seen mickey Rourke return... why isn't HE in this movie???? I confuse Randy Couture with Steve Austin)
oh yeah he was the one with cauliflower ears that didn't do much of anything!
I would have rather seen mickey Rourke return... why isn't HE in this movie???? I confuse Randy Couture with Steve Austin)
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7:32PM on 08/15/2012
I was surprised that the R rating was not reported on this site. After the atrocity & overreacting by most of the schmoes on here when they thought it was gonna be a PG-13. Guess it felt pointless really to report it but I would have loved to have torn people here a new one & seeing them admit to eating crow. Anyway a solid review & nice to see the movie deliver & let's be honest Jet Li is not the reason we see these movies & i always thought he was out of place in the first one. Thats just
I was surprised that the R rating was not reported on this site. After the atrocity & overreacting by most of the schmoes on here when they thought it was gonna be a PG-13. Guess it felt pointless really to report it but I would have loved to have torn people here a new one & seeing them admit to eating crow. Anyway a solid review & nice to see the movie deliver & let's be honest Jet Li is not the reason we see these movies & i always thought he was out of place in the first one. Thats just me though & don't get me wrong I love me some Jet Li & hoping if he does end up in part 3, they give him his due against say Jackie Chan. But I doubt Chan would agree to do a violent R rated movie.
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4:47PM on 08/15/2012

CHUCK F'ING NORRIS

CHUCK F'ING NORRIS is why there's virtually no bad language in the film. He's deeply opposed to cursing and in order to get him on board they agreed to shoot the film PG-13. I guess he didn't have final cut (hehehe) so they added the gore once he was done with the production.
CHUCK F'ING NORRIS is why there's virtually no bad language in the film. He's deeply opposed to cursing and in order to get him on board they agreed to shoot the film PG-13. I guess he didn't have final cut (hehehe) so they added the gore once he was done with the production.
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10:23AM on 08/15/2012
It was alright, it was better than the first and did a good job of capturing the feel of good old-fashioned 80s-early 90s action flicks, better put-together and packaged nicer. I was not a fan of the inclusion of the Maggie character though, Yu Nan's screen presence just felt grating and it felt like she was very forced into the story. I wish we saw more of Jet Li's Yin Yang in her place. Still, a good time to be had and there is a lot of joy to be found in seeing Stallone, Willis and
It was alright, it was better than the first and did a good job of capturing the feel of good old-fashioned 80s-early 90s action flicks, better put-together and packaged nicer. I was not a fan of the inclusion of the Maggie character though, Yu Nan's screen presence just felt grating and it felt like she was very forced into the story. I wish we saw more of Jet Li's Yin Yang in her place. Still, a good time to be had and there is a lot of joy to be found in seeing Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger walking forwards in a row, firing their guns and decimating scores of mooks.
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9:57AM on 08/15/2012
I heard it was "rip-roaring"
I heard it was "rip-roaring"
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9:52AM on 08/15/2012

Its the Nostalgia of the whole thing

It really is and I am a sucker for these action movies. I can't wait for this one. I even love a lot of B direct to DVD action movies. Check out some of Dolph Lundgrens movies, they are pretty badass
It really is and I am a sucker for these action movies. I can't wait for this one. I even love a lot of B direct to DVD action movies. Check out some of Dolph Lundgrens movies, they are pretty badass
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8:52AM on 08/15/2012
I still love The Expendables, even after many repeat viewings, so I guess that's a good sign. And I can't stand Norris--at all-- so I'm glad to hear he's used in a jokey way.
I still love The Expendables, even after many repeat viewings, so I guess that's a good sign. And I can't stand Norris--at all-- so I'm glad to hear he's used in a jokey way.
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8:14AM on 08/15/2012

HooYAAAH

A positive review from Bumbray! Whatever slight missgivings I've had is now long gone.....BRING ON EX2!!! (And Ex3, Ex4, Ex5.....as many as they want :D)
A positive review from Bumbray! Whatever slight missgivings I've had is now long gone.....BRING ON EX2!!! (And Ex3, Ex4, Ex5.....as many as they want :D)
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7:53AM on 08/15/2012
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE chuck norris KILLED OFF, POSSIBLY BY A RESURRECTED BRUCE LEE
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE chuck norris KILLED OFF, POSSIBLY BY A RESURRECTED BRUCE LEE
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5:22AM on 08/15/2012
A proper Chris Bumbray review. My favorite Schmoe critic delivered the goods here and now I can't wait for this movie!
A proper Chris Bumbray review. My favorite Schmoe critic delivered the goods here and now I can't wait for this movie!
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5:14AM on 08/15/2012
Just what I feared about Jet Li being pointlessly cast in a two-minute role in this film. Well, I'll probably still see it - but really only for Arnold. Otherwise, consider me contently sticking with 'The Bourne Legacy' this weekend.
Just what I feared about Jet Li being pointlessly cast in a two-minute role in this film. Well, I'll probably still see it - but really only for Arnold. Otherwise, consider me contently sticking with 'The Bourne Legacy' this weekend.
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4:49AM on 08/15/2012

my mini-review:

First off: no shaky-cam or crappy editing. And I liked the Stateside scenes: some obvious seeding for plot developments, but well-written with cool character interaction. After the first meeting with Van Damme it gets a bit patchy and muddled until the final confrontation. There are a few important moments that don't make any sense, but that didn't stop me enjoying the movie. Bruce Willis steals his scenes with Sly & Arnie - the guy oozes charisma. Arnie's acting is a bit rusty, but you
First off: no shaky-cam or crappy editing. And I liked the Stateside scenes: some obvious seeding for plot developments, but well-written with cool character interaction. After the first meeting with Van Damme it gets a bit patchy and muddled until the final confrontation. There are a few important moments that don't make any sense, but that didn't stop me enjoying the movie. Bruce Willis steals his scenes with Sly & Arnie - the guy oozes charisma. Arnie's acting is a bit rusty, but you can see he's having fun - and dialogue isn't the film's strong point anyway. Agree it was prob shot as a PG-13, but there are a couple of really brutal moments & plenty of CG blood. Overall, this is the movie the first Expendables should have been! Great fun. Cool characters. Stars of the show: Van Damme (gives a brilliantly sadistic smile at a key moment), Lundgren, Adkins and - surprisingly - Chuck Norris (have never rated him as an actor, but he's pitch-perfect here).
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3:03AM on 08/15/2012
I have to admit The Expendables 1 was a bit disappointing, but this sounds good enough for me from the looks of it. The only sticking point is the action scenes, are they still plagued with usual shaky cam and quick cuts? Shame about Jet Li. At this point, they should just give him a spin-off movie where he leads a team of Asian Expendables i.e. Chow Yun Fat, Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa, Sonny Chiba, etc.
I have to admit The Expendables 1 was a bit disappointing, but this sounds good enough for me from the looks of it. The only sticking point is the action scenes, are they still plagued with usual shaky cam and quick cuts? Shame about Jet Li. At this point, they should just give him a spin-off movie where he leads a team of Asian Expendables i.e. Chow Yun Fat, Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa, Sonny Chiba, etc.
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5:02AM on 08/15/2012
No, the action scenes are well-staged. You can actually see the actors in the thick of the action, particularly the 'big' fights involving Statham and Stallone. You don't need to worry about a travesty like the Li-Lundgren fight in the first film.
No, the action scenes are well-staged. You can actually see the actors in the thick of the action, particularly the 'big' fights involving Statham and Stallone. You don't need to worry about a travesty like the Li-Lundgren fight in the first film.
10:53AM on 08/15/2012
Well that's a relief. Finally someone gets it!
Well that's a relief. Finally someone gets it!
2:54AM on 08/15/2012
I'll watch the movie anyway. You know, at Chuck Norris' house, his computer keyboard do not have "Delete" or "Backspace" button because nobody can erase Chuck Norris!
I'll watch the movie anyway. You know, at Chuck Norris' house, his computer keyboard do not have "Delete" or "Backspace" button because nobody can erase Chuck Norris!
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+4
2:28AM on 08/15/2012
Had me at Sly vs. Van Damme and Statham vs. Adkins. Although the first film wasn't all that good, there were some things in it that made it worth seeing in the theater. This sounds better, which is good news. Looking forward to getting drunk on action come this weekend.
Had me at Sly vs. Van Damme and Statham vs. Adkins. Although the first film wasn't all that good, there were some things in it that made it worth seeing in the theater. This sounds better, which is good news. Looking forward to getting drunk on action come this weekend.
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+5
1:55AM on 08/15/2012

Bring on EX3

I pumped for this film, F***K im pumped for EX3!!

going to see it sat with allllll the boys!!!
I pumped for this film, F***K im pumped for EX3!!

going to see it sat with allllll the boys!!!
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1:44AM on 08/15/2012
Fucking. Hell. Yes. Growing up I wanted to see Van Damme and Stallone in a movie together, but I never imagined they would ever star in a movie where they beat the everloving shit out of each other. Yes, please. Oh, yes, yes please.
Fucking. Hell. Yes. Growing up I wanted to see Van Damme and Stallone in a movie together, but I never imagined they would ever star in a movie where they beat the everloving shit out of each other. Yes, please. Oh, yes, yes please.
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-46
1:11AM on 08/15/2012
I can wait 4 months for the dvd rental. I learned my lesson after seeing the first one in the theater.
I can wait 4 months for the dvd rental. I learned my lesson after seeing the first one in the theater.
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9:09AM on 08/15/2012
I was disappointed in the first movie too, but I genuinely think this one will be better and worth seeing at the theater.
I was disappointed in the first movie too, but I genuinely think this one will be better and worth seeing at the theater.
+9
12:48AM on 08/15/2012

this movie probably makes Chuck Norris angry

it is rated R after all!

Can't wait to see Ex2, have heard nothing but fantastic things about it from most!
it is rated R after all!

Can't wait to see Ex2, have heard nothing but fantastic things about it from most!
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1:55AM on 08/15/2012
I hope its chuck that bites the dust in this crew!
I hope its chuck that bites the dust in this crew!
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