Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Van Dammage: Padre Expendables
"What Mr. Stallone is trying to do...is feeding every character. He has to feed them like a big family. They have lots of names here so you have to feed them on an equal way. It's like the padre of a family of a table of movie stars. He's got to feed them equally and they're all gonna shine somewhere."
Jean-Claude Van Damme on the epic cast of The Expendables 2
hot again Mickey Rourke was brought in for 2 days on a break from Iron Man 2 as a favor to Sly who cast him in Get Carter when decent parts were few and far between for the once promising young actor. Former WWF/E superstar Steve Austin and Direct to Video martial arts master Gary Daniels added some villainous muscle as Robert's henchmen. Then former pro athletes turned actors Randy Couture and Terry Crews filled out the rest of the Expendables team. Stallone's longtime friends and business partners Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis turned up for a quick cameo that was filmed over a few early hours on a Saturday morning while The Oak was serving as California's governor. Being sold as a cast of action legends was a bit of a stretch as out of the 9 actors plastered on the poster, only 3 had substantial roles and could headline a theatrical film at the time. Originally, writer, producer and director Stallone envisioned the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker and Kurt Russell to be involved only to be turned down by an in the trenches of a still unreleased film Van Damme and a semi-retired Russell who wasn't interested in ensemble casts. No word if Kingsley and Whitaker were ever approached or just used to hype the film to foreign distributors.
intelligent self as he was now in a position to take a major role as the villain instead of one of the backseat Expendables. Plus, he got the odd yet awesome ALSO credit versus With or And. Stallone mentioned Biehn and Pare as actors who had been through the mill and deserved another shot to which Biehn quickly stated he didn't need Stallone to save his career. Seagal's tense relationship with producer Avi Lerner is the rumored culprit to why the 90's star wouldn't sign on but audiences did get to see him mix it up with Danny Trejo in Robert Rodriguez's ridiculous grindhouse flick Machete. Sandra Bullock was a pipe dream stemming back to 1993's Demolition Man which I'm sure never made it further than Sly mentioning it in an interview. And what about Ryan Seacrest? Apparently he works out with the same trainer as Stallone and has an impressive physique for a TV host so rumors of him playing a shady federal agent ran rampant but never materialized.
With Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain Vilain, high kicking DTV star Scott Adkins as his 2nd in command, new recruit young guy from The Hunger Games Liam Hemsworth, Arnold and Willis in expanded roles and karate champion turned movie star turned TV icon turned internet sensation Chuck Norris locked in for a small role, 2012's The Expendables 2 looked to capitalize on the popularity of the first while expanding it's reach for 80's and 90's action stars. The results are a jokier affair with Chuck Norris reciting a Chuck Norris joke and Van Damme turning in a solid if smaller than expected performance culminating in a physical, mano a mano throwdown with Stallone that left many fans disappointed. The hype train was running at full speed with premieres around the globe, a panel at Comic-Con and the cast on every interview show imaginable but the film opened lower than part I with $29 million on it's way to an $85 million U.S. gross. Worldwide tickets made up the difference and the flick brought in $300 million to best the original. With a mid-August release, I think part of The Expendables' firepower was dampened by action films Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy hitting theaters in the weeks prior.
With over $500 million in worldwide receipts from theaters alone, a third Expendables adventure was sure and quick to happen. 2 years after the 2nd installment comes The Expendables III, touted as the possible "last ride" of the franchise but I'm sure that's more of a marketing thing to signal the end of summer because if this baby hits, there will be a 4th! I figured Gerard Butler would be a solid addition to the cast as the Scot has action flicks and hits like 300, Gamer and Olympus Has Fallen to his credit along with a working relationship with Expendables production company Millennium Films but his name never came up. Instead we heard rumblings of Jackie Chan, Nicolas Cage, Milla Jovovich and Wesley Snipes being on the shortlist of additions. Jackie Chan bowed out as he didn't want to be in such a large cast and thought it should be a buddy picture with Stallone. Nic Cage was never formally offered a role according to the man himself and for whatever reason, Jovovich didn't sign up either. She was probably gearing up to shoot another Resident Evil movie. Fresh out of prison Wesley Snipes boarded the Demolition Man reunion quickly though and Stallone teased fans that Mel Gibson was being considered to direct. While the Mad Titan passed on directing reins, he did sign on to play main villain Conrad Stonebanks. From there, UFC women's champ Ronda Rousey and Millennium's Hercules Kellan Lutz were brought in as young blood while Stallone pals Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer showed up as additional members of the team. Like part II, I fear III will suffer from 12 heroes and 2 villains syndrome but we shall see. The biggest casting shock was that Stallone friend and part I&II co-star Bruce Willis would not be returning following a pay dispute. Basically, Willis was offered $3 million bucks for 4 days work but wanted $4 million for 4 days. Sly and the producers balked and within 72 hours had secured fellow 90's leading man Harrison Ford to join the party. By my estimation the only 90's guys we're missing now are Seagal, Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. Of those three, I see Costner being the most realistic casting addition for a proposed part IV.
Now to prep for The Expendables I think I'll start with the Rambo films and move into Arnold's Commando and Predator then maybe a Lethal Weapon or four seguing into some Air Force One followed by Demolition Man with a trip to Van Damme's "very interesting" Expendables II...