One word for this new Expendables 2 poster- COOL
With Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opening this weekend I thought I would do a retrospective of my all time favorite sequels.
10. ROCKY BALBOA – 2006. Thirty-one years after the 1976 original classic, Sylvester Stallone comes back in style to create a perfect bookend to one of the great characters in America’s pop-culture. The film’s big highlights include Rocky’s speech to the boxing commission on the state of his boxing license and the montage training sequence featuring a 59-year-old Rocky Balboa which is priceless. I must admit I got chills watching it in a movie theater!
9. DIE HARD 2 – DIE HARDER – 1990. How could the same thing happen to the same guy twice? Well, it did in this very well done follow-up to perhaps the greatest pure action movie ever made. This time, Bruce Willis’s John McClane takes on terrorists at Dulles Airport outside of Washington D.C. Solid story, great action set pieces, a cool twist at the three quarter mark and solid direction from Renny Harlin make this film a big winner! Yippee Ki Yay…
8. LETHAL WEAPON 2 – 1989. Richard Donner’s follow-up to his terrific buddy cop film, Lethal Weapon. Part 2 is even better, mixing humor with realistic violence to create a flawless genre piece. Joe Pesci is a great addition as Leo Getz. His chemistry with Mel Gibson’s, Riggs, and Danny Glover’s, Murtaugh, is sensational. Actor Joss Ackland is a solid villain and his tag line “I have diplomatic immunity” is quite memorable.
7. ROAD WARRIOR – 1981. George Miller’s sequel to MAD MAX features some of the most jaw dropping stunts ever put on film. As action movies go, there aren’t many better!
6. ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES – 1971. A terrific Sci-Fi time travel film that takes the premise of the Original and reinvents it brilliantly. The film featured stellar performances by Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter, once again playing Chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira, who take on the same dilemma of the Taylor (Charlton Heston) character from the first entry in the series. Like other films in the franchise, Escape dealt with important issues like Race, Social Status, Animal Experimentation and Women’s Rights! A really smart, well done, movie!
5. THE DARK KNIGHT – 2008. Expanding on the terrific BATMAN BEGINS, director Chris Nolan upped the ante making everything a little bigger, a little more intense, and richer in scope. Heath Ledger’s JOKER will be part of movie lore till the end of time!
4. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – 1980. The very best of the STAR WARS films and also the greatest cliffhanger in movie history.
3. ALIENS – 1986. James Cameron took the horror concept of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and created one of the greatest action movies ever made. Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley remains the very best female action hero ever and her character’s emotional bond with the little girl Newt (Carrie Henn – who is now a school teacher) is the film’s emotional core! It’s hard to believe this epic film was produced for just 18 million dollars.
2. DAWN OF THE DEAD – 1979. This film is regarded by many, including myself, as the GONE WITH THE WIND of the horror genre. George Romero’s follow-up to his landmark 1968 film, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, is an amazing achievement considering it was produced for roughly one million dollars. Shot mostly at the MONROEVILLE MALL in Pittsburgh, PA, the epic zombie action horror movie is a complete and totally satisfying experience. It was also one of the most popular MIDNIGHT movies ever! One of my all time favorites, I watch it two or three times a year!
1. THE GODFATHER 2 – 1974. Believe it or not, this was the first film to use the number 2 in its title. For me, it’s a tribute to great storytelling as Francis Ford Coppola was at the top of his game here, telling multiple stories with the film working as both a sequel, and a prequel. Robert DeNiro won the Oscar for best supporting actor with all of his dialogue spoken in Italian. The sequence at the senate commission hearings is one of the greatest scenes ever shot!
Variety is reporting that Nu Image/Millennium Films has greenlit a fifth installment in the long running Rambo franchise with Sylvester Stallone returning to star, direct, and possibly write. Production is set to begin in the spring after Stallone wraps up his newest actioner, The Expendables. According to the trade Stallone’s Rambo will be fighting to rescue a young girl who is abducted by human traffickers and drug dealers near the U.S./Mexico border.
It’s almost hard to believe that the Rambo franchise goes back to 1982 when the character was introduced in First Blood. Other actor’s who were considered for the role at one time or another included Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Nick Nolte, and Michael Douglas.
First Blood was followed by the blockbuster sequel Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1985 and then Rambo III which disappointed at the box-office in 1988. I still remember its opening weekend box-office upset when Crocodile Dundee 2 was the dominant player that weekend.
While Rambo II (love it) and Rambo III (like it very much) took the character into comic book territory, last year’s Rambo, the fourth entry in the franchise, returned the character to his very gritty hard core roots. This pleased most of the fan-base and made a profit to boot.
I’m glad to see Stallone keep the character going. While the last chapter in the Rocky franchise is now closed with that character going out in style, I have no problem seeing the Rambo character going on another mission. Considering how grueling these films are it’s almost stunning that the soon to be 64 year action star is still doing this (HGH certainly helps).
Actually Charles Bronson was 72 years old when he made his last Death Wish film (Death Wish V: The Face of Death) in 1994, although his Paul Kersey character wasn’t nearly as physical. One has to wonder if Arnold Schwarzenegger will be tempted to go back into the action arena when he’s done serving as the Governor of California. It has to be easier than his current gig.
In a throwback to 80’s, action icons Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham (The Transporter) and Jet Li (Mummy 3) will team up to play a group of mercenaries in an action film titled THE EXPENDABLES. Sylvester Stallone wrote the script and will direct as part of his two picture deal with Nu Image/Millennium films. According to Variety, the main characters are sent to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator to liberate the population. This is clearly a type of film that isn’t made much anymore. A glorified B film in the tradition of 80’s fare like MISSING IN ACTION, DELTA FORCE, UNCOMMON VALOR and Stallone’s own RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD. Stallone, who’s RAMBO pulled in over $150,000,000 worldwide still has a lot to offer the world of movies. He’s a very talented filmmaker. Principal photography on The Expendables begins in February in Costa Rica and Louisiana. This cast should make for a very cool matchup. While I love comic book related films, the B-action film is a genre that needs a comeback and I hope this film goes a long way to reviving it! Here’s the Trailer to 1983’s Uncommon Valor. Its one of my favorite films in this genre.