So I saw The Expendables over the weekend and was bored shitless by it. It's not quite as bad as Steve Austin's last action movie (The Condemned) because I wasn't actively disgusted by it, but it's just shitty and forgettable. It's probably the worse movie everyone involved has ever been in (yes Terry Crews too. He was in Idiocracy and hype aside that's a damn fine little movie). Except Steve Austin. Yeah.
But it got me thinking: If I were going to do a similar movie, who would I cast? Well I discussed it with one of my friends and I came up with this 10 man (all male) team for my concept movie and I thought you would be amused by it and my motives. So here, for your amusement, is my Expendables list, after the cut.
The man himself. Bruce Campbell's career has been up and down, but we mostly know him from his incredible performances as Ash Williams in the Evil Dead films. And if you're doing a love letter to bad 80's action movies, you need him. Put him in the leadership position and you'll double your tickets right there. Give him a shotgun or a chainsaw (or both) let him go to town. Don't forget to make him say 'Groovy.'
Edward James Olmos
I was informed at one point that if I wanted to keep the formula of The Expendables alive, I would need an elderly mentorish figure to handle things on the business end but not get involved in too much combat. The answer was easy: Edward James Olmos. Best known for his role as the Captain in Miami Vice, as well as Gaff in Blade Runner. More recently he was Admiral Adama in the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica where he was the COOLEST PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE! I can think of no one better to run things from the business end.
We all love Nathan Fillion. Why? Well because he's awesome. He progressed from a scene stealing villain in the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the lead in the incredible Firefly to a comfortable gig currently in Castle (with time to appear in a few good movies here and there like Dr. Horrible or Slither). He's a capable enough dramatic actor and a great action lead with natural comic timing and great charisma. Put him in the funny guy role and be wary of him stealing the entire movie.
About 90 percent of you don't know who this is. He's the dude from the Old Spice commercials. You know, the stream of amusing statements ones...'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.' Yeah him. I've no evidence that he'd be a great actor in this movie, but he's funny and impressively built (not to mention VERY attractive) and that's enough for me to want to include him.
About half of you are nodding in approval and the other half are very making some very confused misspelled wikipedia searches. Tamoh was first notable for being Helo in Battlestar Galactica where he managed to be memorable and charismatic enough in his 20 minutes on screen in a 90 minute pilot to get fans attached to him enough to bring him back when he was supposed to be dropped without memory in the pilot. He went on to be a major character, before appearing as the male lead in Joss Whedon's ill fated Dollhouse and isn't up to anything else as far as I've heard. He's a good martial artist and a solid dramatic actor, so putting him in an action movie is probably a good call.
This one was a tossup between him and Chuck Norris but I went with Kurt Russel because he's been in a few movies that I could consider objectively good. Of course he's like 60, so you might wanna be a bit careful with him (but then so is Stallone, so what the fuck do I know?). Make him the undercover/disguise guy if you don't want him in too many action scenes. Make one of his disguises or possible disguises an eyepatch and see if you can hear fans of Escape From New York squeal.
Steven is best in a supporting role. There's a very simple way to tell if a Steven Segal vehicle is good: Is it Under Siege? Yes? Then yes it's good. No? Then it's not good. It's that simple. But in a supporting role, like in Machete or Executive Decision. He's gained some weight since he was a big star, so you might need him to lose some, but I'm sure he's up to it. Or if he's not, just grab Chuck Norris instead, for reasons that should be obvious.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
People often ask me, 'What happened to Van Damme's career?' And I always answer 'He was never that good.' But if you're doing a love letter to bad 80's action Van Damme is a necessity, not just because like Norris, he DEFINED bad 80's action, but because under the right circumstances he can be hilariously awful and fun to watch (Timecop is the best example). Plus, his career's been in the toilet for going on 2 decades so you could probably get him cheap.
Tony Jaa has yet to prove himself to be the second coming of Bruce Lee he was foretold to be, mostly because all of his films have the same plot (someone steals something from Tony Jaa and he GETS IT BACK!) but he is an impressive physical specimen and a fantastic martial artist and could really use a big budget actioner to make him a household name, so he'd be a good grab.
I decided, on reflection rather arbitrarily, that the team needed a smart guy for my 10th spot and the choice was obvious: David Duchovny of The X-Files fame. He could probably be taught to gunfight, or at the very least put in a support role in front of a computer console. He's a capable dramatic actor when the situation warrants it (as he proved several times over the course of The X-Files) and he's got a killer deadpan for funny moments.
A few more notes:
1, don't go for PG-13. R-Rating ALL the way. Go watch Once Upon A Time In Mexico a few dozen times, it's your guide for action style and gore level.
2, action scenes, even if they're silly and overly gory, need to be cleanly shot so we can see what the fuck is going on.
3, try to come up with some signature setpieces, something unique. Tony Jaa and Tamoh Pinikett back to back using their unique styles? Awesome. Bruce reunites with his chainsaw? Kickass. Parkour combat? Do it.
4, you're doing a love letter to bad movies and you need to be self conscious about it. Reference everyone's careers. Bruce says groovy, Olmos uses frak, Fillion speaks chinese, Duchovny can believe in aliens, Mustafa can ride a horse, Grace Park can cameo as Tamoh's girlfriend. Not hard people.
5, make it FUNNY! You want to do a serious action film, this is not the cast or the style. Campbell, Fillion, Duchovny, Mustafa all have killer comic timing and delivery. Use it.
6, just because 80's action movies were stupid doesn't mean you need to be. A good script in a junky movie is what separates say, Escape From New York from Timecop.
7, just because 80's actioners were sexist, doesn't mean you need to be.
Now I can just sit here and watch my list be ignored.