I was very excited to see The Expendables not because it is a star-studded action film, but because of Jet Li. Yours truly is an Asian who is a devoted fan of Jet Li. After The Mummy, I haven’t heard of any film from him. In fact, I have waited for this film for more than a year already.
Here it comes, was the movie worth the wait? Subjectively, I regretfully say it’s a no.
Weeks before the film was shown, I noticed that there were two posters released
In the first poster, Jet Li’s name appeared as the last. His name even came after the word “and.” When I shared this to my friend, she told me that it could manifest two contrasting things . Either he plays a big role in the movie or he will just have a special participation in the movie. The latter was almost the answer.
In the second poster, his name came after Stallone and Statham. In their picture, he was the first cast who was positioned in the left side of Stallone. Statham was on the other hand placed on Stallone’s right side. The second poster gave me an idea that perhaps the lead role of the movie goes to Stallone (obviously) and the “also starring” roles are shared by Li and Statham.
My first expectation transpired as the right outcome. Jet Li had a limited cameo appearance in the film. The movie “S”tars only the actors with “S” in their family names, Stallone and Statham.
In effect, I was disappointed over the film. Apart from the minor appearances of Jet Li, his name in the film was “Yin Yang,” a very uncreative name to begin with. I know he’s Chinese and he fits to a Chinese name. I wish that they had done more research for the right Chinese name. Jet Li’s small role was likewise too lousy. He was given one fight scene. But that single scene was literally and figuratively short. It was short, his shortness in height was emphasized and he was not able to gracefully finish the fight. It was Stallone who dramatically terminated Li’s fight with Lundgren . In one scene where Li and Stallone was chased by bullets and cars, Li was also not given a magnificent moment to overcome those bad guys. He was stuck gunning and shooting nothing at the back of a pick up truck, that boasted the escape driving skills of Stallone. Another scene that further underscore Li’s shortness is when he was asking for additional pay to Stallone for the mission. Li said in the movie that his height disadvantage makes tasks doubly hard for him. Therfore he deserves a higher pay.
This is I think the problem with star-studded or power house films. In reality, a movie highlights only a star. It never happened that everyone in the movie has equal cameo appearances and opportunities to showcase their best talent and skills. We all know that there are only two big roles in a movie, the protagonist and the antagonist. The rest would just occupy supporting roles that either complemented the protagonist and the antagonist. But of course, I do not disregard the idea that there is no small role for any actor. A role is still a role. In the case of this movie, the real protagonists were Stallone and Statham. The remaining big names Li, Couture, Austin, Crews, Rourke, and Lundgren occupied minor roles. I almost forgot, Willis and Schwarzenegger too. Just a little humor consolation, I can’t forget the scene of Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger. Stallone told Willis that the reason why Schwarzenegger does not want to accept the job is because Schwarzenegger wants to become the president. Was that a half-meant joke?
It all boils down to the idea that there are always small and big roles in a movie. Not everyone can be the hero . Someone has to always occupy those sidekick roles. This is what happened to The Expendables or to Jet Li in particular. Li, Couture, Austin, Crews, Rourke, and Lundgren were big stars who landed to pick up those behind the heroes characters.
Another problem of the movie is that the big stars were all compiled and squeezed in the side of the protagonist. What if Stallone became the villain instead? Though I know this one is impossible because Stallone was the writer and director. But I think the villain’s costume more fits him. A fight between Stallone and Statham would be much interesting.
You may or may not believe me. You might say that my evaluation of the film was already influenced by my subjective point of view. But objectively, I could say that the movie was just a typical Hollywood action film. There’s nothing more of it.
The film’s effects, setting and all those technical aspects were excellent. But story content and substance, it’s a disappointment. The movie’s plot was too plain and ordinary. There’s nothing highly interesting on the story. The plot which evovled on the mission to overthrow a dictator was a perfect typecast. The plot became even became more disappointing when Stallone developed that cheesy love interest to Gisele Itie.
Overall, I could say that the powerhouse casting of The Expendables became its sole selling point. The movie was almost an icing on the cake. The casting gave everyone an instant attraction. But content wise, nothing was really spectacular about the film. Apart from being an icing on the cake the movie also depicts the saying that you cannot have the best of both worlds. It’s very rare to find movies that hold a superb story and a great line up of actors. The Expendables almost became an expendable, if not only of its powerhouse cast.