Movie hero mercenaries back in action ... again
THE EXPENDABLES 2
Starring: Pretty much everyone
Director: Simon West
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What's it about? Almost every action hero since the dawn of time unites as a ragtag bunch of mercenaries to save the day. Again.
Verdict: Silly, but a must for fans of 1980s action movies.
S ylvester Stallone leads the powerhouse line-up of action movie superstars when they walk into the interview room.
The Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger is close behind, then Stallone's Rocky IV sparring partner Dolph Lundgren, followed by "the muscles from Brussels" Jean-Claude Van Damme and finally, at 44 years old, the relative new kid on the block, Jason Statham.
They're promoting their new movie The Expendables 2, the sequel to the 2010 worldwide hit The Expendables, which garnered more than $273 million worldwide.
Stallone co-wrote, starred in and directed the first film but handed over directing duties to Simon West, of Con Air fame, this time round.
It's still very much his baby though.
"We've pulled together the most phenomenal action-adventure cast I've ever been involved with," says Stallone.
He returns as Barney Ross, the leader of a band of old-school mercenaries who are reunited to avenge the loss of one of their "brothers" and, in short, save the world from global disaster.
It's action the old-fashioned way; lots of guns, explosions, muscles and one-liners.
"Our characters hark back to a time when our heroes were flesh and blood and we're bringing back that old-time rock'n'roll," says Stallone.
Austrian-born Schwarzenegger, the Mr Universe-turned-movie star-turned-Governor of California (he stepped down in early 2011) made a cameo in the first film.
"I was happy to be asked again to be back," says Schwarzenegger, laughing, referencing his iconic Terminator line.
Bar the cameo in 2010, this marks his movie comeback after eight years.
"The Expendables was an ideal movie to come back to," says Schwarzenegger in that famous flat tone
"Firstly because you're with the top action heroes, but the spotlight doesn't go on me, it spreads out among all the action heroes, so it was a safer way to come back."
Schwarzenegger returns as Trench, Barney's nemesis, who eventually teams up with him when the high stakes demand it.
"Everyone on the set was very helpful. They actually went a little overboard, thinking I didn't know how to hold a gun anymore or how to throw a punch," he says, laughing again.
Kickboxing superstar Van Damme, 51, makes his Expendables debut as the villain of the piece, brilliantly named Jean Vilain.
"I have to thank Stallone for putting me back on the big screen because I have good eyes, good face," says Van Damme, who breaks into a cheesy smile.
He and Stallone go for it in a hand-to-hand battle in one of the final sequences.
"It was great. Mano-to-mano with Rocky," says Van Damme.
"It's kind of like a heavyweight championship fight you never thought would happen," adds Stallone.
Statham, the British diver-turned-movie star, thanks to his role in the 1998 film Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, returns as Barney's closest ally Lee Christmas.
Despite appearing in the first film, Statham admits he still gets star-struck working alongside his idols.
"Stallone, Bruce, Arnold. It was a great feeling to see my name with theirs."
Stallone insists there was no room for huge egos on set.
"I would like to say there was, because it makes a more interesting story, but there wasn't," he says. "Everyone knew what to do and the key with men like us is very simple. If you give out respect, you get respect."
It was competitive though.
"No one wants to be second, so everyone pushes very hard and that's why these people have established the reputation they have, because they want to be the best," says Stallone.
Schwarzenegger agrees: "We were competing as to who has the most defined muscles, the best body, the biggest gun, who kills the most people."
"Who has the biggest watch," Lundgren interjects with a movie star smile, and holds up his wrist to reveal a timepiece of mega proportions.
Ideas for a third instalment are already under way.
"We're thinking of concepts because the third one's the hardest by far," says Stallone. "You have to do something the audience don't expect at all."
Remarking on the future of the Expendables franchise, Stallone adds: "Maybe this is the beginning of a revival. Or, maybe it's the end of an era.
"But one thing is for sure, it's going to be quite an experience."