Film Review: The Expendables

A month after most ‘men’ watched it I finally got round to seeing The Expendables last week. The gang’s-all-here exploding nostalgia trip has been reviewed to death, death itself a prevalent character in the movie what with all the shootings, explosions, and CGI blood, but there are some particular things I’d like to pick up on.

Firstly, the enemy. Obviously Stallone was aware that choosing a real country for an enemy would mean the movie wouldn’t sell there. Being Stallone’s opponent is about as enviable a task as playing against the Harlem Globetrotters, however the drug corrupt, stereotypical dictatorship led Latin-American country ‘Vilena’ fits the bill perfectly. The country’s name itself probably came from Stallone logically thinking ‘where do Villains come from? Vilena’. But not only that, the flag is a copy and paste job of both the Spanish and Iraqi flags, as if to say ‘they may speak Spanish, but we’re allowed to go to war with these guys’. The real enemy isn’t the country’s folk anyway, after all, they seem perfectly welcoming to Stallone and Statham tearing up their shanty villages in a 4 by 4, rather it’s the drug barons and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Sly with the only jump in the movie which isn't followed by an explosion

Next, the group. The fact that Van Damme and Steven Seagal are missing from the pack makes the movie a bit like watching The Sugababes. On the other hand we get heavy lifting from Jason Statham, a far more charismatic star than Seagal and Van Damme, and the most likeable presence in the movie. Statham, does the most ‘acting’ in the movie, and he also does a good job of beating up the cocky basketball players in a scene which is reminiscent of Will Smith being spun around at the start of Fresh Prince. However, some of The Expendables are hardly seen, I was half expecting Randy Couture to go into the warzone weaponless, convincing his buddies that he’d armbar the drug lords into submission. Instead, his main role is an ongoing joke about anger management issues. Another member of the gang, Terry Crews, just spends most his time using and polishing a gun straight out of the P.C game ‘Doom’, which is so destructive it leaves you wondering why they didn’t just drop a bomb and be done with it.

Finally, the story, there isn’t one. Which is fine as it’s an action movie, but they go to a lot of trouble just for some money and a pretty dictator’s daughter (who Stallone’s character is obsessed with after meeting for about a minute). Also, most action movies are improved when one of the ‘good guys’ dies, but this doesn’t happen. You can almost picture these action heroes in a run through, all of whom have amassed over a million dead ‘baddies’ in their films, all claiming their right to be indestructible. The closest we get is when Dolph Lundgren goes all ‘Ivan Drago’ on the group and Jet Li seemingly kills him. But don’t fear, turns out he survived and he’s back on the straight and narrow, where do action heroes go for rehab?

Anyway, the film was fun enough, and is certainly worth a watch, if only to laugh at all the action movie stereotypes planted throughout.


Read Users' Comments ( 0 )

The World Ends...

Ever since my Now 34 cassette I’ve been a sucker for compilation records. Whether it’s a definitive guide, an introduction to, or a ‘...presents’ there is something about discovering multiple new acts which is always exciting. However, now I’ve grown out of my Gina G/Mark Morrison stage I’m not always spoilt for choice. Of course there is the excellent Rough Trade Counter Culture series, Kitsune Maison and various Nuggets compilations; and next on the wish list is a host of compilation records made up of long lost Afrobeat recordings released on Soundway Records.

One of the most recent and accessible is
‘The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria’. Back in the late 60s, as the ‘Summer of Love’ took hold here, Nigeria was facing an altogether different scenario. Civil War may have staggered the Country’s artistic community but, once the hostilities ended in 1970, many exciting new forms of music took root, with the conflict providing a political theme for new artists.

The World Ends is a sort of West-African Nuggets, a collection of psychedelic, garage, funk inspired musicians who sought to combine these new Western influences with Afrobeat, high-life, traditional West African sounds. From the first listen there is a raw energy to these tracks, especially apparent in those featuring The Hygrades and The Funkees. What’s more, alongside these Psychedelic characteristics, James Brown provides a prominent influence throughout. This funk edge, stronger here than in the Nuggets compilations, provides the perfect soundtrack for a confident walk to the shops or the bus stop, ahem.

Whilst some of these tracks were hits which would had made the Now compilations of their day most of us are unlikely to stumble upon copies in the U.K which has led to a marked increase in the unearthing and repackaging of old African Records, especially successful with Soundway Records. However the merging of styles, most of which are currently witnessing a resurgence (Afrobeat, Garage, Psychedelia) results in an album which sounds as vital today as it did when it was first released. It also provides another example of the musical trade between Africa and the West which successfully continues in many guises today. All in all a really enjoyable compilation which may well dissuade you from purchasing Scott Mills forthcoming ‘Big Ones’.


Read Users' Comments ( 0 )