The Expendables: Extended Director's Cut (Blu-ray)
When you think of the biggest action stars of the past 30 years, who comes to mind? For me, the list has to include Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, and more recently Jason Statham (yes, I enjoyed the original TRANSPORTER more than is considered socially acceptable). Few actors have achieved their level of fame (or infamy) – a constant onslaught of action, bullets, explosions, and mayhem – with more gusto than these guys. In 2010 they all came together for Stallone’s magnum opus, THE EXPENDABLES; an orgy of action (and little else) the likes of which I haven’t seen in years.
The story of a misfit, mercenary band of brothers, THE EXPENDABLES are a gang of men you wouldn’t want to encounter for any reason. They refer to themselves as expendable because they are cannon fodder, war machines. The group is composed of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke and Dolph Lundgren. When we join the team they are mopping up a group of pirates and returning home from the job. They seem just about unstoppable, so when they are contacted by ‘the agency’ (CIA) and offered a job they don’t shrug away. They are to assassinate the despot of a small jungle country; simple enough. But this job makes them question the very foundation of their livelihood.
Barney (Stallone) is the leader of the group and recognizes that he is likely nearing the end of his career. When he and sidekick Lee Christmas (Statham) scout out the country of Vilena, they discover that the target’s own daughter is their contact. She believes in her home and can see that her father’s relationship with ex-CIA-turned-drug kingpin Monroe (Eric Roberts) is destroying it. Her selflessness, despite their brief contact, shakes Barney’s moral compass and awakens within him a need to believe in something greater than himself.
This is pretty high-level discussion of a movie that is basically nothing more than a bunch of fight scenes held together with a little (generally poorly delivered) dialogue, a TON of bullets, big guns, and explosions. That’s not to say that there aren’t cool moments in the movie (there are quite a few) but they come at the expense of a fully developed cast of characters. The Extended Director’s Edition attempts to make up for some of that by re-cutting a few scenes and including some material lost in editing – primarily little hints at the background of our team (and one incredible monologue by Rourke). The problem is that it’s too little too late; even with the additional material, most of the cast comes across as little more than caricatures.
Hearing that they were making THE EXPENDABLES, I wasn’t very excited. Even though I love action films (anything where I can escape and truly turn off), it just didn’t seem like my type of movie. When I originally got to see it I had fun but was unimpressed. Receiving the Extended Director’s Cut I literally groaned… why would this movie be given an extended edition, and even more why would anyone want to watch it? Well, after viewing this version and the special features, I can tell you I enjoyed this version more than the theatrical release… but not enough that I would recommend purchasing it unless you LOVE this movie. Otherwise, just wait for the sequel.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The transfer is crisp and beautiful. From explosion to explosion, the over-the-top action is presented with absolute clarity.
Audio: (English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The sound is another great presentation and combined with the video really immerses you in the film.
Introduction by Sylvester Stallone (02:32) Stallone briefly discusses why he felt it was so important to release this new cut, and how proud he is of the final product.
Spike TV’s Action: The Expendables (20:33) I hate (really, truly dislike) the host but I enjoyed this quick take that originally aired on the ‘men’s network’.
Inferno: The Making of the Expendables (01:31:42) A four part documentary that had been released on its own prior to being included on the disc, this is an action-film-nut’s DREAM feature. It follows the cast and crew from the first drafts of the script all the way to the final day of filming. Not as good as some others that have been released over the years (FULL-TILT BOOGIE, the documentary on FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, still stands out), this is still pretty fun and informative for fans of the film.
“Sinner’s Prayer” Music Video by Sully Erna (03:47) A music video from one of the songs added in the new cut of the movie in HD.
Sylvester Stallone: A Director in Action (20:21) A brand new feature for this Blu-ray, Stallone gives a candid and in-depth look at his career. Discussing his life in film, he has some really great insights about the business of film as a writer, an actor, and a director.