cinematic roots of: ‘The Expendables’

No movie springs from a vacuum. There are always influences from past examples of the genre, from the previous work of the filmmakers and stars, even from similar films that don’t quite work. If you want to understand where a movie is coming from, take a look at where it’s coming from.

In The Expendables, writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone gathers together a small mercenary army of leftover 80s action stars and a few wannabe youngsters to kick some ass and take some names. This flick sprang from (among other films):

Rambo (2008), in which Stallone also flashed back to the macho paramilitary flicks of a quarter of a century, reprising his iconic character for one last mission.

Rocky Balboa (2006), Stallone’s much more sensitive and surprisingly bittersweet look at the aging muscleman that is his iconic boxer.

Death Race (2008), for one of Expendables’ (relative) youngsters, Jason Statham, who is no stranger to throwback flicks, as this remake of the 70s exploitation flick shows; here, he’s a race-car driver trying to survive vehicular gladiatorial games in prison.

Masters of the Universe (1987), for Expendable Dolph Lundgren in some actual 80s action cheese as the sci-fi meathead hero He-Man.
Where to buy:
Death Race [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Masters of the Universe [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Rambo [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Rocky Balboa [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]

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Sun, Aug 15, 2010 2:25pm

No The Dirty Dozen?

Sun, Aug 15, 2010 3:41pm

Ah, Masters of the Universe. Why they had to bring it to earth, I have _no_ idea.

Sun, Aug 15, 2010 6:40pm

Pointless Bacon degree of separation factoid:

Sylvester Stallone was in the original Death Race 2000 in the 70s.

Sun, Aug 15, 2010 7:44pm

The truth behind “Masters” is that it really was only Masters of the Universe in trappings only. The director intended a Jack Kirby tribute instead of being faithful to the MotU fans.

Sun, Aug 15, 2010 10:29pm


The original Death Race (with Sylvester Stallone) was tons better than the remake.

And instead of Masters of the Universe for Lundgren, a better choice would have been Universal Soldier, one that co-starred Jean-Claude Van Damme who shoulda done The Expendables (for some reason JCVD turned it down, the fool!)

Sun, Aug 15, 2010 10:41pm

So, besides Jean-Claude Van Damme, Stephen Segal, Chuck Norris, and Jackie Chan, and excluding the commercially-spoiled cameos of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, who else should have been in The Expendables?