I’ve gone over my issues with The Expendables series multiple times. But if there’s one thing I can say the franchise has done right is bringing together a great cast of stars. For all of Expendables 2’s faults Jean Claude Van Damme’s turn as a villain is totally brilliant. Seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger coming out to kick ass after his run as the governor ruled the first time around. Moments like these are what have turned a silly concept into a full fledged franchise with a silly concept. What makes things even better is the fact that due to how the movie works they can swap members in and out as they see fit (or how schedules work out). Being in the Expendables seems to be a right of passage for any action stars past or present. Still there are some names that, for whatever reason, just don’t seem to come up. With a a spin off and no doubt another movie in the future here are some names that deserve to be looked at. Especially since Steven Segal is a massive doucher that nobody wants to work with.
Chow Yun Fat
When it comes to late 80’s/early 90’s Chinese action there is nobody more recognizable than Chow Yun-Fat. Chow has starred in some of the best action movies ever as the lead in The Killer, Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow. He’s an absolute legend and is still kicking but in China with movies like Let The Bullets Fly. I can see it being hard to fit him into his still busy schedule of movies but if anybody deserves to be there it’s him.
Between Thor’s brother being in the last movie and Ronda Rousey in the new one this week one of the big things they are trying to push are current/future action stars. As far as I’m concerned they have generally failed at this. While they may have been in action roles they haven’t really delivered in the long run. That’s why I think they could take a step back and go with an established modern action guy like Tom Hardy. His first major role in 2001’s Black Hawk Down he has more than proven his status in the genre with Inception, Warrior and The Dark Knight Rises. With a potential franchise in the new Mad Max it would be a big coup to get Hardy in a movie.
For those that don’t know there is a planned spin-off focusing on a team of a female team called The ExpendaBelles in the works. In fact there are two with one being helmed by producer Avi Lerner starring Gina Carano, Sharni Vinison and Katee Sackhoff. The other from the director of Legally Blonde starring Milla Jovovich, Meryl Streep and Cameron Diaz. Guess which one I prefer. Either way there’s a major star both should have their eye on, Michelle Rodriguez. Doing nothing but strong, ass kicking type roles she could work as the lead in either franchise. More importantly she has shown time and again that she can kick just as much ass as the dudes and would be the perfect person to connect an ExpendaBelles style spin off with the main series.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Who doesn’t love The Rock? Since debuting as pro wrestler in the 90’s he has crafted a fun and likable persona that makes him a star to everyone. Heck my mom still tells me when he makes appearances on The Today Show or whatever. It’s easy to understand too; The Rock has a unique charisma that works for action and comedic roles perfectly. With the Expendibles franchise being a balance of action and comedy already this is perfect for “The Great One.” At the very least he’d make for a better cameo than the one Schwarzenegger did in The Rundown.
And yes I am astounded that I still remember The Rundown.
Of all the people on the list Donnie Yen is probably the least known which is a shame. Acting since the 80’s he has is a big star in his native China for movies like SPL, Flash Point and Iron Monkey. While he had some minor roles in Blade 2 and Highlander: Endgame he is probably most known in the US as the lead in critical and commercial hits Ip Man and Ip Man 2. Since then he has slowly but surely been gaining a cult following in the United States for his martial arts prowess and being one of the top action coordinators in the world. Seeing him get proper recognition in an American movie would be great. Plus there’s be the chance of Yen vs Statham which could be epic.
You don’t really think it but Keanu Reeves is one of the biggest action stars in history. With starring roles in Speed, Point Break and The Matrix series of movies he has been involved with some of the highest grossing and most popular action movies of all time. Not only is he a good action star but he has proven that he “gets” action with his surprisingly good directing in Man of Tai Chi. Funny thing is I bet he’d be the hardest of the actors to get. At this point in his career Reeves seems to do movies he wants to do as opposed to things that are guaranteed hits. I actually find this pretty admirable all things considered. But the chance to see Keanu as the villain opposite Jet Li is too good to miss.
Yeah, I totally have a plot laid out for Keanu Reeves as the villain. I assure you it’d rock.
A star since the 70’s Jackie Chan is not only the most obvious pick but the one closest to happening. With both Stallone and Chan showing interest there have been rumors of a Jackie role for quite some time. Unfortunately whether it’s due to money or scheduling things just haven’t worked out. Which is a shame because in this pseudo-action hall of fame he’s an obvious omission; especially when Kelsey Grammar is getting a character poster. At 60 Chan not only is he surprisingly agile but has one of the best eyes for fight choreography going today. Despite slowing down over the years he still puts most action stars to shame. With more than 40 years in the film industry and being known the world over he’s clearly the biggest missing piece to the Expandables world.
Now there tons of action stars out there that for one reason or another I didn’t list for one reason or another.
Michael Dudikoff– I’ll be honest I have no clue whether the dude can still go into full blown action movie mode. But I’d love to see American Ninja get some love.
Iko Uwais– Of all the actors Uwais seems like the most obvious. The thing is my blog is such a lovefest for The Raid already that this just felt redundant at this point. You know I’d love to add him and I know I’d love to add him. Just consider him the unofficial #8 entry.
Tony Jaa– On the surface Jaa seems like an obvious pick. With hits like Ong Bak and The Protector under his belt the dude seems like a lock. My concern is that he seems very flaky as far as an actor. His output ebbs and flows with a varying quality. Still he seems to be on a big comeback with Fast & Furious 7 and SPL 2 so maybe I’m wrong.
Jean Claude Van Damme– I know he has already been in the series. Heck he was the major villain of The Expendables 2. But I remember there were rumors that Van Damme return as Claude Vilain, brother of Jean Vilain who he played in Expendables 2. Not only would this be amazing but it’d totally work with the clone/twin movies JCVD did all the time. This is the kind of tongue in cheek, wink at the audience insanity I’d love to see more of. Plus the Muscles from Brussels is surprisingly great as a villain. Getting to see more of that would be great.