2010’s The Expendables gave fans of iconic action hero badasseration a taste of what it would be like to experience some of our favorite face punching, public property demolishing, one-liner dropping stars of recent yesteryear share the big screen. It was over the top, explodey good times.
Stallone, Li, Crews, Statham, Lundgren, Couture, and Rourke were a fun sample course. Sly, never being one to shy away from sequels (still waiting on Cliffhanger: Hang Some More), poured moonshine in the formula and give us more Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and the perpetual awesomeness that is Chuck Norris in The Expendables 2. Even better, the villain finally gets an equal measure of excellence in the form of The Muscles from that Place in Belgium, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Sorry Eric Roberts, I love you but...Sharktopus.
Still, one JCVD chair-splits punch alone isn’t enough to compete with those three decades worth of action superstars, and whomever tangles with them next will have to compete with an action aficionado wet dream of additional Expendables. What is a top bad guy to do? Contract out — pull an equal measure of baddies from the past together and give Barney Ross and company a run for their money. Below are my ten Anti-Expendables, in no particular order.
10. Bolo Yeung
So long as they’re snatching up Bloodsport alumni, it only makes sense to include kung fu master, former Mr. Hong Kong, and guy that punches all of the stuff, Yeung. He’s the same age as Stallone at sixty six, and would very likely give his team a brutish edge, particularly if The Expendables 3 randomly works a Kumite into the action. He’ll have to bring a lot more than a handful of quicklime powder this go around to put down all of the good guys, however.
9. Robert Z’Dar
From playing a homicidal maniac in The Night Stalker, to a homicidal maniac in Tango & Cash, to a homicidal maniac in Maniac Cop, Z’Dar cornered the market in maniac-related film in the late ’80s. That giant mug was money, and he tangled with the biggest names in Hollywood, Stallone included. I’ve every reason to believe Z’Dar would be able to headbutt (jawbutt?) a substantial number of Expendables into putty before getting impaled on a conveniently placed steam pipe.
8. Christopher Walken
We love us some good Walken, but it’s undeniable that he can play some of the best characters with nasty intentions. There are few characters as repulsive as Brad Whitewood, Sr. in At Close Range, and he’s chillingly affable as Vincent Coccotti, the torture loving mob boss in Tony Scott’s True Romance. And hey, let’s not forget he was Bond’s nemesis in A View To a Kill. Or maybe you should, because that movie was horrendous. Either way, Walken is fantastic when he’s off-kilter and crazy, which is basically always. Give the guy a shotgun, a lot of bizarre lines, and let him go to town on the nearest good guy.
7. Kevin Nash
When last we left” Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s Dan Paine in The Expendables, he was doing an impression of a struck match; so far as I’m concerned, we’re short a wrestler. Nash has been a bigger than life character for years in the squared circle, and he’s even taken his 6’10”, 300 pound services to the big screen. He kicked Thomas Jane’s ass as The Russian in the unfortunate remake of The Punisher, Bass in DOA: Dead or Alive, was on the short-list to play Sabretooth in X-Men, and was freakin’ Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. While his latest contribution to film was shaking his naughty bits as a male stripper in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, I’m fairly certain even if he joined the Anti-Expendables sporting a banana hammock, nobody would be much inclined to pick fun.
6. Clancy Brown
Brown doesn’t do nice, even when he’s one of the good guys. Starship Troopers anyone? Brown has played a murderous, undead sheriff in Pet Sematary Two, a brutal prison guard in The Shawshank Redemption, and a laundry list of other nasty characters – but none come close to his portrayal of the broadsword-wielding immortal, The Kurgan, in Highlander. You don’t get the best of Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez without being a bad mofo. I’d like to see Jet Li try to wushu his way out of a beating at the hands of a guy that neck bolts wouldn’t look out of place on.
5. Al Leong
Fellow Reject Nathan Adams shot me a reminder to include Al, and doing so feels like a no-brainer. Yes, I know — he’s fantastic at dying. Leong is the Sean Bean of ’80s action flicks, but he always gets his licks in before said untimely demise, and does so fu manchu-ing harder than pretty much anyone. He’s easily one of the most memorable henchmen whose name most folks wouldn’t immediately know off the top of their head. From “Gunman” in The Replacement Killers, “Thug” in Lethal Weapon, a terrorist thug in Die Hard, gang member thug in Escape from L.A., to hatchet-wielding Chinese cultist (see: Thug) in Big Trouble in Little China, Leong has thug life down to a science. Additionally, he played Genghis Khan in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and while he made nice in that film — it doesn’t change that Khan carved a path through almost all of China and Central Asia. Still a bad guy. Let’s just make sure he gets his due and doesn’t get sucked into the jet intake of plane, or thrown off a building for at least an hour into the film.
4. Gary Oldman
Who didn’t know he was going to be on this list? Certainly, he’s been a model virtue (sort of) in Christopher Nolan’s Batman, but Oldman cut his teeth on being a mean motherf@#*er. He’s played everything from Count Dracula, Lee Harvey Oswald, a milkey-eyed, Rastafarian drug dealer in True Romance, a wealthy space industrialist/pirate, and an ultra-nationalist terrorist that really needed to get off Harrison Ford’s plane. That’s the short-list. And if you think his days as a bad to the bone hardass are behind him, Oldman’s recent portrayal of Prohibition Era gangster Floyd Banner in John Hillcoat’s upcoming Lawless (which I am conveniently reviewing later this month) will definitely remind you why Gary is at his best when being very bad. As I see it, Oldman would be the brains behind the brawn of the Anti-Expendables, that can still totally hold his own against the best of them.
3. Tommy “Tiny” Lister
One thing the Expendables crew still have in spades is muscle. The Anti bunch need another big, mean, fibula cracking machine. Tiny Lister is just the man for the job, and he has the bad buy pedigree to prove it. At 6’5″ and 300lbs, Lister’s monstrous frame and unforgettable face have won him roles as a genetically augmented killer in Universal Soldiers, a giant scary guy in Beverly Hills Cop II, a whole slew of similarly terrifying big people that want you dead, and most prominently, the ever furious Deebo in the Friday series. Lister even co-starred in the Vince McMahon produced No Holds Barred, a wrestling flick with Hulk Hogan. It debuted at number two in theaters behind Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in 1989. I shit you not.
2. Danny Trejo
Before he began protecting the downtrodden and taken advantage of as Machete Cortez and co-starring in Spy Kids films with Joel McHale, Danny Trejo made a career of doing basically nothing but kicking every single one of the asses as a bad guy. Where to start? He’s impaled Antonia Banderas with throwing knives in Desperado, a vampire barkeep in From Dusk Till Dawn (and both to-be-avoided sequels), an assassin in The Replacement Killers, a career criminal in the excellent Heat, and has been cast as “Inmate #1” more times than all actors collectively, ever. No need to look that up. I love Trejo as a rough-edged good guy, but I want to see him get his due as a truly epic tough guy on the wrong side of the law; one that survives to perpetuate dastardly deeds again. If you don’t want to see Danny and Dolph Lundgren trying to throw each other through walls, I can’t even look at you, man. We have nothing in common.
1. Billy Zabka
I know he’s sort of a dark horse, but hear me out. Sure, Zabka was more prone to play high school douches that beat up people smaller than him (inexplicably wearing fingerless gloves with like, everything, in one instance), and being cast as guys named Howie, Ted, and Chas, but he’s definitely got the ’80s bad guy cred. So long as he got at least one opportunity to sport a bitchin’ red leather jacket, and at least one opportunity to sweep the leg, I can’t see how anyone wouldn’t leave the theater thinking, “Best.Movie.Ever.”
The B Team: Randall “Tex” Cobb, Michael Madsen, Willem Dafoe, Chael Sonnen (MMA good guy, meet MMA bad guy), Alan Rickman, Bill Duke, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tom Berenger, Vernon Wells
The Expendables 2 is in theaters right this second. Seriously, it’s there right now. Go see it, we dug it.