The Expendables week – Rest of the Cast

Well time to wrap up the week. I’ve covered Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Van Damme and Willis. The Expendables 2 also has Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, and Scott Adkins but Netflix only has a few streaming titles for each of them.

The Cutter (2005) – Rated R

“When a kidnapping rescue mission goes horribly wrong, Detective John Shepherd (Chuck Norris) escapes his guilty conscience by trying to save an aging diamond cutter, Issac Teller (Bernie Kopell), who’s been abducted by an unknown madman. With the help of the Issac’s niece, Elizabeth (Joanna Pacula), Shep unravels his mysterious past … only to find that the cutter perfected his craft years earlier as an Auschwitz inmate.”

The only Chuck Norris streaming on Netflix is not one of his better ones. It is a rather generic shoot ’em up, beat ’em up. For Chuck Norris fans only.

The Terminator (1984) – Rated R

“In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the “Terminator” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to snuff Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior (Michael Biehn) to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?”

The Terminator is a classic for a reason. James Cameron is actually able to turn Arnold’s limited acting range into a positive. Arnold is fantastic as the unstoppable killing machine and is still a good thrill ride. Look for future Aliens stars Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, and Bill Paxton (sporting a Mohawk).

Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Rated PG-13

“While on a quest to retrieve a magical gem, muscleman Conan vanquishes mortal and supernatural adversaries with help from his ham-fisted sidekick, a wacky wizard, a fierce woman warrior and a gigantic bodyguard. But there’s a traitor among the ranks.”

While not as good as the first Conan, Conan the Destroyer is a more family friendly version. It suffers from too much Dungeons & Dragons influence and some rather bizarre casting (Wilt Chamberlain? Grace Jones?).

The Scorpion King 2 (2008) – Rated PG-13

“Employing an all-new cast, this action-driven prequel to The Scorpion King tells the heroic tale of young Mathayus (Michael Copon) and his relentless quest for justice against an evil and powerful villain, King Sargon (Ultimate Fighting champ Randy Couture). Mathayus faces heart-stopping tribulations during his adventurous, odds-defying trajectory toward his ultimate destiny: becoming the formidable warrior king of an ancient desert empire.”

Wow Universal’s reboot of The Mummy with Brendan Fraser was a lot of fun. It made buckets of money so they made two sequels which were nowhere near as good. Here comes the bizarre part. Universal then went and made a prequel to the second film, The Scorpion King starring Duane ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Scorpion King 2 features Randy Couture instead of The Rock. There is even a Scorpion King 3 with Dave Bautista.

Ninja (2009) – Rated R

“An American studying the ancient martial art of ninjutsu in Japan finds his training put to the test when he’s summoned by his sensei to return to New York for a dangerous mission: protect a chest containing the weapons of a legendary ninja.”

Yet another one of those competing movie idea, Ninja came out the same time as Ninja Assassin. Ninja Assassin was originally titled Ninja and starred Korean pop sensation Rain. If you like Ninjas or Scott Adkins then you’ll enjoy this.

R.I.P. Carlo Rambaldi 1925-2012

Iconic special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi has passed away in southern Italy at the age of 86. Rambaldi won two Oscars for his work – one each for Alien and E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Although such classics as Alien and E.T. are not available, three of Rambaldi’s films are currently on instant Netflix.

Silver Bullet (1985) – Rated R

“When a sleepy town is terrorized by sadistic murders, the locals conclude that the culprit is a werewolf. But only Marty, a 13-year-old boy in a wheelchair, is brave enough to try to track down the mysterious beast.”

Rambaldi created the werewolf suit for this movie.

Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Rated PG

“While on a quest to retrieve a magical gem, muscleman Conan vanquishes mortal and supernatural adversaries with help from his ham-fisted sidekick, a wacky wizard, a fierce woman warrior and a gigantic bodyguard. But there’s a traitor among the ranks.”

While I enjoy Conan the Destroyer for the hilarious miscasting, Rambaldi’s design for Dagoth was a lot of fun.

Planet of the Vampires (1965) – Unrated

“Italian horror maestro Mario Bava (Black Sunday) provides lots of creepy atmosphere for this cult chiller, which became a major influence for later science fiction and horror films. Barry Sullivan leads the European cast as Capt. Markary, commander of a space rescue mission whose members fall prey (one by one) to zombie-fying possession by alien entities. The film was also released as Demon Planet, Planet of Blood and Terrore Nello Spazio.”

An early film for Rambaldi. He worked on the models in this one.

Conan the Destroyer

After the utterly disappointing reboot of Conan the Barbarian, I went back to my old pal Netflix. Instant Netflix currently has the original Conan the Barbarian available for viewing but I have already expressed my appreciation for that flawed movie. The sequel, Conan the Destroyer is also currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Rated PG

While on a quest to retrieve a magical gem, muscleman Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) vanquishes mortal and supernatural adversaries with help from his ham-fisted sidekick (Tracey Walter), a wacky wizard (Mako), a fierce woman warrior (Grace Jones) and a gigantic bodyguard (Wilt Chamberlain). But unbeknownst to Conan, there’s a traitor among the ranks. Sarah Douglas, Olivia dAbo and Jeff Corey also star in this rousing, fast-paced sequel.

John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger made Conan the Barbarian ooze with testosterone. For the sequel, Richard Fleischer was handed the directors chair. Fleischer took the Conan concept and attempted to turn it into family friendly fare.

The violence, while plentiful, is completely toned down here to, believe it or not, earn the film a PG rating. Also the rise in popularity of Dungeons & Dragons leads the film to be populated by wizards (Mako and others), thieves (Tracey Walter), and warriors (Wilt Chamberlain, Grace Jones) as well as a few varieties of monsters.

The physique of Conan is still awesome but Grace Jones comes across as more of a warrior than Arnold does. Of course this may be because she injured a fair number of the stuntmen on the film.

This is an example of how NOT to do an ensemble cast. Every member of the cast seems to be shouting “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” in every scene. Grace Jones overplays her aggressiveness, Olivia dAbo overplays her cuteness, Mako and Tracey Walter fight for top sidekick status, and Sarah Douglas, Wilt Chamberlain (yes that Wilt – his only screen role), Pat Roach, and Jeff Corey slug it out for the villain slots.

I give this a watch recommendation because in spite of everything I have said, this is a fun, constantly moving Arnold romp. Also it is train-wreck fascinating to watch these “actors” (a bodybuilder, a model, a basketball player, two singers and even two professional wrestlers) step all over each other.

People Watch: Look for an unrecognizable Andre the Giant as the transformed Dagoth.