The action film is a rich genre and it boasts a plethora of sub-genres, from martial arts to disaster movies. After the box-office success of The Expendables another star-studded instalment was sure to be on the cards. With The Expendables 2 being released this week, we take a look at the best action scenes from the ensemble cast of action heroes.
Sylvester Stallone – Rambo (2008)
He’s the reason these films exist: The Expendables films are crafted from Sly’s dreams. In 2010 he assembled legends of the genre and took the helm to direct the biggest action movie ever.
Beatles or Stones? To be or not to be? Rocky or Rambo? These are the questions hardest to answer. For me, while he may have made his name as the legendary boxer, it was his performance as the ruthless Vietnam veteran that cemented his position as an action legend. In 2008, after a twenty-year absence from the role, he returned to the Rambo series with a fourth instalment. While it was vastly superior to its predecessor, it paled in comparison to the First Bloods. It wasn’t hard choosing a scene from the film; one that has been simply described, by our very own Owen Blackhurst, as the scene where “Rambo shoots fucking everyone all at once”.
Jason Statham – Transporter 3 (2008)
As the British representative of The Expendables crew – well it was either him or Vinnie Jones – Stathe is at his typecast best, as a rugged muscleman with plenty of attitude for the men and charm for the women. His performances are built around extended fight scenes where he can show off his fighting prowess and find any excuse to take his shirt off. Every film in the Transporter franchise has featured a fight scene set in a garage, and typical for a film series, each one has been ramped up to exceed its predecessor. This scene depicts Statham’s Frank Martin dispatching a swarm of hostiles with an array of weapons, including a fire extinguisher and not surprisingly the shirt off his back.
His performances are built around extended fight scenes where he can show off his fighting prowess and find any excuse to take his shirt off
Jet Li – Kiss of the Dragon (2001) Watch the scene here (embedding disabled by Youtube)
This is more of a sequence than a scene, but an important inclusion nonetheless. In The Expendables, Li is often the laughingstock, with the rest of the characters belittling him due to his slight physique. While he lacks the steroid-induced muscles of Arnie or Lundgren, he is a master of his craft and one of the leading martial arts actors. For Kiss of the Dragon, the fight scenes were centred on realism, with genuine stunts and choreography replacing the CGI and wirework typical of the genre. This scene is from the film’s conclusion, where Li breaks the necks of twin henchmen brothers with stylised fighting before killing the lead antagonist with an acupuncture needle.
Dolph Lundgren – Rocky IV (1985)
This wouldn’t be a list of action scenes if it didn’t include a Rocky training montage. The first Expendables film saw Lundgren’s Gunnar Jensen betray his allies and become the antagonist, but this isn’t the first time he has been pitted against Sly. For Rocky IV he starred as the giant Russian boxer Ivan Drago who, having killed Apollo Creed in a charity fight, sought to take the title from the Italian Stallion. This legendary training montage juxtaposes a bearded Rocky in the wilderness chopping trees, lifting carriages and raising barns with traditional training techniques, while Drago is locked in a laboratory, using science, injections and tests for his training.
Terry Crews – The Expendables (2010)
The Expendables was intended as an ensemble action film that would amplify every element of the genre and no scene expresses that sentiment more than this one. With his team pinned by a barrage of enemies it’s down to Terry Crews’ Hale Caesar to save them with the incredible firepower of his automatic shotgun – the favoured tool of the Call of Duty ‘pro’.
Jean-Claude Van Damme – Bloodsport (1988)
The leading gimmick of The Expendables series is that it’s the first action film to include so many big action names in one film. From central roles to cameo appearances, there is plenty of space within the narrative for every action star to feature, particularly the iconic fifty one year-old martial artist - JCVD. Here in one of his earliest cinematic appearances as he fights to win an underground, single elimination freestyle fight tournament. The film is commonly regarded as a cult classic and the final fight scene presents his athletic ability, not least as his status as one of the few action heroes capable of a complete leg splits.
An important part of the action hero’s arsenal is his ability to convey all of his feelings in a brief one-line sentence. Arnie is the man who conquered them all
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Watch the scene here (embedding disabled by Youtube)
An important part of the action hero’s arsenal is his ability to convey all of his feelings in a brief one-line sentence. Arnie is the man who conquered them all; in every cinematic appearance he always delivers memorable dialogue. This scene from the famed Terminator sequel includes his most famous catchphrase of them all. In The Expendables he had only a brief cameo, so his ability to provide dialogue was integral to his role, but with his political career behind him and a full cinematic return being rumoured, expect to see, and perhaps even hear, more of him in the sequel.
Bruce Willis – RED (2010)
Bruce Willis established himself as an action legend with his appearance as the forever quotable John McClane. Much like Schwarzenegger, Willis made only a brief appearance in the first film, but with a bigger budget it’s safe to expect to see him in a much larger role. This scene, taken from 2010 ensemble action film RED, shows that when he’s not the unkillable, vest wearing saviour, he’s casually stepping out of cars in mid-spin and proving that you never stop being an action legend.
Chuck Norris – The Way of the Dragon (1972)
Famed for his roundhouse kicks and cult personality as the man who can make the impossible possible, Chuck Norris is arguably the biggest action film star ever. With the multitude of other stars signed up for the film it was unsurprising when it was announced he had been approached to make an appearance in The Expendables 2. Way of the Dragon was his debut film and saw him starring alongside another martial arts legend, Bruce Lee. This monumental scene sees two legends of the genre collide.
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