The Expendables

The Expendables (2010)
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin
Extras: Commentary Track, Recon Mode, Gag Reel, Deleted Scene, Featurettes, DVD Version, Digital Copy

With a movie like "The Expendables, " you simply can't go wrong. The concept is sheer brilliance on Sylvester Stallone's part, showing once again that there is so much more brains to his brawn than one might expect. Bringing together practically the entire array of action superstars from the 80s and 90s, Stallone created a mega-action movie that can do only one thing — dazzle your senses. Lionsgate Home Entertainment has now prepared a Blu-Ray version of the film and I was eager to check it out.

Featuring an expectedly simplistic plot, "The Expendables" revolves around a group of mercenaries going by the same name when word comes down about a job that would suit them just nicely. Making contact with Mr. Church (Bruce Willis), the group's leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) decides to do some reconnaissance check on the job at hand, the infiltration of a small island in Mexico and the termination of a certain drug-trafficking general.
Smelling a set-up, Barney first refuses the job but reconsiders when his conscience tells him that he could actually make a difference on the island, liberating the oppressed people there. With the help of his dependable Expendables he plans to do just that.

The most intriguing aspect of the movie from the get-go is, of course, the jaw-droppingly impressive cast list. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Randy Couture and Terry Crews, there is an action star around every corner. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a brief walk-on to round out the cast. With a roster of stars, what do you do? Stallone did what they do best, put them in the middle of the action, letting them drop a few one-liners and make everything else on the screen explode.

"The Expendables" is highly predictable but where most other films would disappoint by being so formulaic, in this case the sheer joy of the project itself makes it a lot of fun to watch. You know what to expect from this film and the movie delivers in spades. In fact, I would not mind a sequel to this movie at all.

With wonderful fight choreography that offers a remarkably diverse mix of styles, the action is the true highlight of the film, of course. Watching the wrestlers bodyslam each other like there's no tomorrow, seeing Jet Li do his martial arts while Jason Statham plays to be a knife specialist, these guys make even tying shoelaces look cool.

"The Expendables" thunders onto Blu-Ray with a rock solid 1080p high definition transfer. The image is meticulously clean and entirely free of defects or blemishes. The transfer's high resolution renders an image that is incredibly rich and detailed, bringing out every little nuance in textures while creating razor sharp edges throughout. The transfer's color reproduction is wonderful, giving us an imagery that is rich and bold, with deep black shadows that give the picture visual depth. Beautiful!
A brutal soundtrack accompanies the movie. It is an action movie, after all, and unsurprisingly, this track explodes front and center. Making furious use of the split surround channels, the track is all over the place, left, right, front, center and behind you. This is how action movies have to be presented; full-bodied, rumbling and hyperactive like a five-year old.

A good number of extras are included on the release as well, such as a commentary track with actor/director/writer Sylvester Stallone. It is a solid track with good information as he talks candidly about the creation of the film, the production and many other aspects surrounding it.

The Ultimate Recon Mode is an interactive behind-the-scenes video commentary that also offers up a good amount of information while you watch the film.

Also included are featurettes, covering the making of, as well as a rather extensive look at the post-production of the film, giving Stallone and other members of his crew ample opportunity to show how a film is actually whipped into shape once the principal photography is done. I was very glad to see that this featurette did not focus on special effects but rather on things such as the analysis of the final product, the music and sound design, as well as the feedback form the test screenings and the final polishing.

Also included are bloopers and a deleted scene, as well as trailers and marketing archives. The release is rounded out by the DVD version and a Digital Copy of the movie.

"The Expendables" was all that I hoped it would be. No more and no less. A ballbuster of an action movie that doesn't take itself too seriously but manages to assault your senses with all the action you can handle. It is truly a lot of fun!