The Expendables is a series pretty much defined by its cast, and speculation is already running rampant about who will be added to the roster for the third entry (assuming there will be one) despite the first sequel still being three days from release. Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Nicolas Cage are the names being thrown around at the moment, but since Flixist is prone to a spot of idle, nerdboner-driven speculation, here’s our list of ten ‘vintage’ stars who also deserve a nomination to the team.
Any Expendables team needs a mix of brawn, specialised fighting skills, cheesy early ’80s charm and an Asian, so our list takes into account this need for diversity in its blood-letting OAPs. Read on to discover who Flixist counts among its Nextpendables, and no, apologies for that pun will not be forthcoming.
KURT RUSSELL: It’s baffling why the former Snake Plissken doesn’t get mentioned more often when it comes to Expendables speculation, because Russell has all the attributes required. He’s a veteran of fan favourite ’80s actioners, remains a recognisable name and still has plenty of fight left in him, as proven by his gleefully nasty turn as Stuntman Mike in Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Possible role in Expendables team: Russell’s a bit of an all-rounder, capable of handling himself in the field, handling large firearms with casual expertise and skillful behind the wheel of any vehicle, from helicopters (The Thing) to muscle cars (Death Proof). Let’s peg him as an escape expert, whether by use of transport or large explosions.
STEVEN SEAGAL: The most obvious name on this list by far, Seagal’s credentials are most clearly defined by his early ’90s hits, the Under Siege movies, and late career revival in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete. In the meantime, he’s popped up in innumerable direct-to-DVD actioners with such sterling titles as Half Past Dead, A Dangerous Man, Urban Justice, Pistol Whipped, and directorial debut On Deadly Ground. He’s currently starring in hit reality show, Steven Seagal: Lawman, in which he runs around dressed as a policeman, turning out a steady flow of accidental comedy through stony-faced delivery of meaningless anecdotes.
Possible role in Expendables team: Given The Expendables‘ penchant for meta-prodding at its stars’ former glories, the temptation would be to cast him as a corrupt cop villain. As his various DVD outings proved, he’s a little too… middle-aged in the stomach area (hey, we’re trying to be diplomatic here) to do the kind of frenzied martial arts from his heyday, so best plant him in a chair and let him make monologue comedy gold.
DWAYNE JOHNSON: It’s not so much a case of the reasons Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson should be in The Expendables, but trying to come up with a single reason why he shouldn’t. Hell, he should be in every movie ever, with his impeccable comic timing and charisma (honed during his wrestling days) making him a more appealing action man than lesser muscle men like his co-star and sometime lover* Vin Diesel in the 2 Fa5t 4 Th3 Fur10us series. I’ve yet to see any movie where Johnson hasn’t been the best thing in it by far, and Schwarzenegger even wished him well as his successor in Welcome To The Jungle.
*If you’ve seen Fast Five, you’ll know what I mean. They may have been punching each other in the face, but blatantly wanted to get down to it like oiled musclebunnies.
Possible role in Expendables team: When you hire Johnson, you’re getting muscle by the metric tonnage, so he’s obviously going to be an enforcer. Whether that’s in a good or bad guy role remains to be determined, as it would be fun to see him going up against the likes of Terry Crews or Dolph Lundgren. Perhaps a challenger to Stallone’s position as team leader? Either way, quips will be mandatory.
MICHELLE YEOH: Despite Hollywood having yet to find any interesting roles for her, Yeoh’s early days prove her one of the most badass female martial artists who ever lived, with charm and talent to spare. She starred alongside Jackie Chan in the excellent Police Story 3, subsequently spinning off as star in the disappointing sequel Once A Cop. Her 1993 collaboration with Jet Li, Tai Chi Master, is also worth a look, as is Wing Chun from ’94. She was also one of the few credible action Bond girls in Tomorrow Never Dies (’97), even if the role didn’t give her nearly enough arse-kicking to do.
Possible role in Expendables team: Well duh, she’s the martial artist. Expendables needs a strong female star and Yeoh is just the woman for the job. For some reason, she feels like a terrific romantic pairing for Kurt Russell, but don’t ask why. The real question is who to pair her with in a fight: Jet Li is too obvious, especially since his mismatched fight with Dolph Lundgren was one of the original movie’s highlights. A smackdown against Dwayne Johnson’s muscle-with-technique could be fun, although my real choice would be the second female star on this list, the inimitable…
CYNTHIA ROTHROCK: Rothrock is basically the female Chuck Norris, best known for starring in a number of cheapo kung-fu flicks despite having done some very credible work in the Hong Kong movie industry earlier in her career. For every Yes Madam – her breakthrough role, forming a memorable partnership with Michelle Yeoh – and Righting Wrongs, there are at least ten Martial Laws. Although never famous enough to inspire a ridiculous meme, her climactic fight scene in the superlatively dreadful Undefeated has become something of an internet sensation. “Keep an eye out for ya, Stingray!”
Possible role in Expendables team: As a counterpart to Michelle Yeoh, she’d be a brilliant villainess. Rothrock’s skills always deserved better movies than they ended up in, and whilst there’s no saying how kind the years have been to her, it would be magic to see her in battle with her former co-star. She should also knock out Chuck Norris with one kick or particularly stern gaze, because that’s definitely something she could do.
BURT REYNOLDS: You don’t need to be Sterling Archer to know Burt Reynolds was THE MAN in the ’70s and ’80s and the definitive Southern action man. If you need me to list any of his most famous roles, you definitely aren’t Sterling Archer and probably won’t hit the danger zone when I say the magic words: White Lightning, or its eponymous sequel Gator. Like all good Expendables stars, he’s suffered his fair share of late career indignities, but maintains his ol’ boy swagger and has been introduced to a new generation of fans by the aforementioned ISIS spy.
Possible role in Expendables team: He’s more a boss man than fighter these days, so positioning him as an arch-rival to Schwarzenegger and Willis’ established characters would be a good move.
DON WILSON: Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson is another star of B-to-C grade martial arts movies from the ’80s, most famous for his starring role in Roger Corman’s neverending Bloodfist series. It’s difficult to think of a genuinely good movie which Wilson featured in, with his most high profile role being as a gang leader in Batman Forever. Yeah. It’s quite possible Wilson inspired the Troy/Abed niche favourite Kickpuncher, because that’s exactly the kind of movie he’d have featured in back in t’ day. In other words, he’s über-niche, but a bit of a favourite among fans of ludicrous ’80s chopsocky.
Possible role in Expendables team: He’d be best suited to a cameo really, as he’s not exactly famous enough to earn a role on the main team. It would be great for the series to embrace some of the figures who bolstered the second and third tiers of action stars in the ’70s and ’80s, and the fact he’s a veteran of no fewer than eight – yes, eight – Bloodfists deserves recognition for effort alone.
BRIGITTE NIELSEN: This is never, ever, ever going to happen. Nielsen had an acrimonious divorce with Sly Stallone in ’87 and admitted to an affair with Arnold Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Schriver. Her Hollywood career peaked between ’85 and ’87, in other words during her marriage with Stallone, although she had some success with a series of Italian Fantaghiro movies from ’92 to ’96. This is one case where her personal life, and connection to two Expendables stars, make a far more compelling argument for her addition than any of her acting roles. Apart from Red Sonja, obviously.
Possible role in Expendables team: A fight scene with Stallone would be particularly hilarious, possibly whilst playing a dominatrix who makes Arnie her bitch. The possibilities are hilarious, mind-boggling and distinctly insalubrious. Perfect.
DANNY GLOVER: Lethal Weapon partner Mel Gibson might be the more obvious choice given his status as a former icon fallen on hard times, but his skillset isn’t drastically different from what the existing cast or names on this list can offer. Glover, on the other hand, can offer perfect straight man sensibilities to Stallone’s crew of rampaging egos. He’s perfectly adept at throwing a punch if need be, and while The Expendables‘ heightened silliness is part of its appeal, a little grounding wouldn’t go amiss. There’s no-one on earth who doesn’t love Danny Glover and he’d surely be the only person capable of finding (intentional) comedy among the series’ laborious dialogue.
Possible role in Expendables team: Glover doesn’t really fit into the expected Expendables mould, but that’s part of why he could work as a supporting character, perhaps giving Stallone’s team help from inside the system as a police chief or international liaison. Having the Expendables come face to face with a Glover-shaped diplomat, less than impressed with their warmongering and the bureaucracy it engenders, could inject proceedings with a much needed smidgen of irony.
ROGER MOORE: Because FECKIN’ A, ROGER MOORE! Look at that face, who could resist? A former Bond is a must for any future Expendables team, and while Connery’s grizzled snarl could be a magical addition, he’s retired and doesn’t look remotely interested in returning to the game. Moore, though, is always up for a laugh and his upper-crust English charm would be a spectacular counterpoint to the American machismo oozing from every frame. He’s not as spry as in his Moonraker days, but if we’re asking for Moore, he’d better bring his best Rog-Fu (aka kung-fu, but at one-fiftieth the normal speed) back to the game. Seeing Rog lay waste to Sly Stallone at zimmerframe speeds wouldn’t make much sense, but would be Flixist’s silliest dream come true.
Possible role in Expendables team: No point wasting Rog in a background role. Make him the main villain, the deadliest assassin in the world assigned with taking out the entire Expendables team. He subsequently slaughters the lot of them, with raised eyebrows and non-sequitur puns in between, until only the female members are left, whom he definitely doesn’t leave standing, wink wink nudge nudge.
Those are Flixist’s top ten choices for Nextpendables (still not apologising). What are yours? Leave a comment or participate in Expendables week by writing a c-blog!