Rol­lick­ing good fun

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - DE­BRA DARBY

THE Ex­pend­ables is a rau­cous, rol­lick­ing movie ride.

Fully loaded with age­ing ac­tion stars flex­ing and fight­ing in a blaze of bullets and ear- split­ting ex­plo­sions – it’s all good testos­terone- fu­elled fun.

Sylvester Stal­lone leads the wise­crack­ing crew of mer­ce­nar­ies, whose ranks in­clude Ja­son Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lund­gren, Jean- Claude Van Damme, Bruce Wil­lis, Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger and Chuck Nor­ris.

The ex­cep­tion to the rule is, of course, Liam Hemsworth, who plays new re­cruit Bill the Kid.

Shar­ing the lime­light cre­ated an in­ter­est­ing dy­namic, with wall- to- wall 1990s ac­tion stars crowd­ing the Bul­gar­ian set.

‘‘ Ev­ery­one’s try­ing to stand in front of each other, so it’s a bit of fight­ing for the cam­era,’’ Statham says.

For Van Damme – The Mus­cles from Brussels – it meant fight­ing his way to the front of the food line.

‘‘ We had a real prob­lem. Lunchtime,’’ he said.

‘‘ There was not enough food, so we all ran to the caterer be­cause I don’t want to be be­hind a guy like Terry Crews, he will take ev­ery­thing.’’

Aside from con­sum­ing co­pi­ous calo­ries, the healthy com­pe­ti­tion be­tween these icons was in­spi­ra­tional to Crews, the 1.89m, 111kg for­mer NFL player.

‘‘ You have to hold your own,’’ he said.

‘‘ With ev­ery line you had to have a come­back, with ev­ery punch you had to have a counter- punch and it just builds and it builds and it builds.

‘‘ That’s what makes the movie great.’’

In this sec­ond in­stal­ment, re­venge is the mo­ti­vat­ing force as the team ex­acts pay­back for the death of one of their own.

Amid all the machismo and

may­hem, mixed mar­tial arts cham­pion Randy Cou­ture emerges as the tough­est of the tough guys. ‘‘ He’s the real deal,’’ Statham says. ‘‘ He could wipe the floor with al­most any­one there and all at the same time.’’

Cou­ture agreed with his co- star’s eval­u­a­tion.

‘‘ I mean if you re­ally want to get down and scrap in a real sense, in a real fight, it’s what I did for a long, long time,’’ he said.

For Cou­ture, pulling punches and mas­ter­ing fight chore­og­ra­phy was a steep learn­ing curve.

‘‘ You have to re­alise very quickly you can’t punch your stunt man in the face, that doesn’t go over very well, let alone your fel­low ac­tors,’’ he said.

‘‘ What about the Bul­gar­ian stunt guy you threw to the ground and broke his ribs?’’ Lund­gren pointed out good- na­turedly.

‘‘ Randy learned some of it, but not all of it.’’

With the ma­jor­ity of the cast now push­ing 50 to 70 years of age, their phys­i­cal­ity was put to the test.

‘‘ If you had a di­a­logue scene in a res­tau­rant you feel pretty good, but if you’re fight­ing guys all day and walk­ing up and down Bul­gar­ian hills you’re a bit sore and that’s just how it is,’’ Lund­gren said.

‘‘ I think by putting stress on your body as you get older by train­ing and do­ing these films it ac­tu­ally makes you stronger in a way too, if you can avoid any se­ri­ous in­jury.’’

Van Damme wasn’t ret­i­cent about his abil­i­ties, how­ever.

‘‘ It’s the old guard, it’s the real stuff,’’ he said.

‘‘ I’m not shy to say we can still kick ass at the age of 50 for real.’’

With Crank and Trans­porter to his credit, Statham is more re­laxed about his train­ing regime.

‘‘ When I go back to Eng­land at Christ­mas time there is no train­ing at all and that sort of washes into the New Year,’’ he ad­mits.

‘‘ I think like any­thing you can’t be con­stantly train­ing, well, some peo­ple do, but I’m not of that ilk.

‘‘ I like to be very strict and then I like to have a lit­tle breath­ing time and then I like to be strict. That suits me rather than some­thing steady and in be­tween.’’

Of­ten de­scribed as the ac­tion odd cou­ple, Statham shares an easy on­screen ban­ter with Stal­lone that’s in­dica­tive of their friend­ship.

‘‘ I sup­pose so, yeah. I mean he’s very much a com­i­cal chap and I can re­mem­ber meet­ing him for the first time,’’ Statham says.

‘‘ We had a bit of lunch and I never stopped laugh­ing. It’s just in his DNA to be funny.’’

The script, writ­ten by Stal­lone and Richard Wenk, is pep­pered with self­dep­re­cat­ing hu­mour and nos­tal­gic ref­er­ences to the cast’s pre­vi­ous catch­phrases like, ‘‘ I’ll be back’’ and ‘‘ Yip­pie ki- yay’’.

In a clas­sic ex­change Stal­lone looks at an old plane and says, ‘‘ That thing be­longs in a mu­seum.’’

Sch­warzeneg­ger looks at Wil­lis and quips, ‘‘ We all do.’’

WISE­CRACK­ING CREW: ( From left) Chuck Nor­ris, Yu Nan, Terry Crews, Sylvester Stal­lone, Randy Cou­ture and Dolph Lund­gren are the real deal; and ( in­set) Ja­son Statham at the UK pre­miere of the film.

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