The Best & Worst Action Movies Starring The Expendables

Five years and three Expendables movies later, it may be easy to forget just how novel this franchise really is. (The scattershot quality of the films themselves admittedly doesn’t help much.) There was a time in the 1980s and 1990s – but particularly the 1980s – when a single film featuring all of the great action stars of the era was a pie in the sky dream. Even getting two of them in the same film was considered a triumph, even if it usually turned out as silly as the Sylvester Stallone/Kurt Russell team-up Tango and Cash.

So when Sylvester Stallone cleverly, and perhaps with a teensy bit of humility, finally conceded that none of the classic badass cinema stars were doing well enough to carry a blockbuster movie on their own, he concocted The Expendables as an excuse to get the whole gang together for one big mother of a blowout. An all-star cast with a two-star plot; a modest lark that could coast on the combined star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Jet Li and Stallone himself… even if two of the bigger names on the cast list barely showed up for a cameo.

Related: The Best Movie Ever: All-Star Casts

But The Expendables and its two sequels – the third of which is in theaters now – sometimes goes a little limp on what constitutes an “action star.” Many of the cast members in the original film had barely been in any action movies at all, and were better known for simply looking badass, or fighting for real in the UFC ring, than actually being a draw in theaters. (Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, etc.) The new film features a cast of younger actors who have barely done any movies at all. There are still plenty of ringers left in the mix, but it got us thinking: what are the best action movies these actors have actually done? For some of the genuine silver screen legends, that’s a tough job, and may ultimately amount to little more than personal preference. For the others, it’s quite easy – for all of his cred, Antonio Banderas technically hasn’t done very many of them – or even harder because they’ve only been in crappy straight-to-video dreck outside of the Expendables franchise.

So here we go with The Best Action Movies of The Expendables, focusing on the cast of the newest film (at least, the ones who have actually made more than one action movie). Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room to highlight the stars of the previous movies and whichever new ones pop up when the inevitable Expendables 4 comes out.

Slideshow: The Best Action Movies of ‘The Expendables’

William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.


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