Sylvester Stallone's great marketing lie managed to pull in worldwide box-office around the $266 million mark for The Expendables last year, thanks mainly to a campaign that proudly exclaimed; 'The greatest action movie cast ever assembled.' Of course, upon actually watching the film I was dissapointed to discover (though fully expecting) that the much tooted Arnie/Sly/Bruce scene amounted to little more than an awkward skit shoe-horned into a film that was a disjointed shambles where only Dolph Lundgren (MA in Chemical Engineering) and Jason Statham (12th place 1992 World Diving Championships) emerged with their charisma in tact. But thanks to that immense success the inevitable The Expendables sequel has been announced, and it comes tantilisingly close to the news that Arnie is about to reboot his acting career. Can the film finally make good on its promise of assembling the 'greatest action movie cast' for more than five minutes? In an ideal world the sequel would see Bruce Willis' Church leading two teams of Expendables, Stallone's Barney Ross heading up our familiar unit and Arnie's Trench the other. Which of course would mean plenty of bickering between the Holy trinity of 80's action and a whole new squad of faded stars (and pro-wrestlers) to delight audiences. Here's my run down of who, ideally, would fill the leather boots of The Expendables II: The New Batch:
Steven SeagalWhy: Seagal was originally offered a cameo role in the original film but turned it down due to a disagreement with producer Avi Lerner who distributed some of the actor's earlier films. Instead Seagal showed up in Machete, probably hoping that Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse spin-off would rival Stallone's flick for popcorn-scoffing-yuks. Though Seagal was one of the few saving graces of Machete, it wasn't quite the kung-fu kick up the backside that his career needed so maybe he'd be a touch more tempted to deliver his squinty stare to Stallone's sequel. Seagal has a certain enigmatic appeal that would make a nice, zen-like counterpoint to the often laddish banter of the first film's crew. Why Not: Well, that grudge with Lerner may still stand, and there's always a sense with Seagal that he wouldn't particularly want to work in the shadow of his far more successful contemporaries. Still, there's a chance he'd pop in for a cameo, indeed, his best work is when his screen time is minimal (see also; Executive Decision).
Jean Claude Van DammeWhy: Like Seagal Jean Claude was offered a part in the first film but turned it down citing the character had no substance, though he's currently lined up for a cameo in the new Muppet movie. But, slight snide remarks aside the Muscles from Brussels really proved his chops with recent oddball indie flick JCVD, an inconsistent but fascinating feature that in one beautiful to-camera monologue shone a new light on the troubled actor. On the one hand perhaps he saw JCVD as drawing the curtain on a certain era, but it'd nice to get a really kick-ass swansong for the former multiple World Kickboxing champion. Why Not: Like Seagal there is the sense that Van Damme might feel intimidated being in the presence of the 'greats', the first film brushed most of its cast aside to make room for extended banter between Stallone and Statham, so unless the sequel weighs in at a beefy three hours any new cast members might ammount to not much more than an extended cameo.
Kurt RussellWhy: Originally approached by his former Tango & Cash co-star Stallone to play Bruce Willis' character of Church, Russell said he was not interested in "ensemble acting at the moment" and declined. So perhaps that moment has passed? Russell was the action outsider of the 80s with enduring cult classic such as Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China and The Thing, and he'd bring an everyman quality to the team generally missing from the ripped (if aging) biceps of his compadres. Why Not: Maybe Russell is too much of an outsider to really sit comfortably amongst such a trigger happy group, sure Death Proof proved he's still a charismatic and cool figure, but an uzi-toting one-man-army, probably not.
Chuck NorrisWhy: In recent times Norris has become a viral internet phenomenon thanks to a string of daffy internet proverb generators, his brand of jingoistic baddy bashing retains a loyal fanbase. He appeared with Stallone on the boxing reality show The Contender, so there could be a hairy-chested, denim clad space with Norris' name on it. Perhaps as an alternative to Mickey Rourke's baffling, grizzly cameo in the original? Why Not: Norris's recent CV stops short at 2005, so perhaps Walker, Texas Ranger has hung up his badge and retired to the ranch? Then again, an offer as big as this might be the cherry on the DTV cake of Norris' career?
Dwayne 'The Rock' JohnsonWhy: There's a moment in the quite entertaining action-comedy Welcome To The Jungle where Dwayne Johnson's character is entering a night-club clearly about to beat someone up, on his way in he passes none other than Arnie who says, in passing, 'Have fun.' This was clearly intended as some sort of changing of the guard type exchange, where the crown was handed from the king to his natural successor. It would be fitting, though Johnson's career is incomparable to Arnie's, that he take on some sort of protege role for the Austrian oak. Why Not: Johnson may come across as the under-achieving upstart, an action-movie also-ran who tried and failed with a string of flops, only his flimsy family movies garnering any kind of box-office return. Which is a shame, because Johnson has a reasonably likable screen presence and has made some interesting - if misguided - career decisions (Southland Tales).
Danny TrejoWhy: Trejo had a role written for him in the original film, but the part got cut, as Trejo's fee would have been a bit too hefty for the film's already paycheck loaded budget. But now with the sequel comes a chance to amend those mistakes by casting Trejo in the one area of the original film that really needed some swarthy, moustachioed charm; the villain. Trejo would have made an excellent baddie in the tension-free original, bringing a swagger to parts that were fumbled and practically anonymous. Why Not: Produced on a teeny tiny $10 million budget Machete trebled its costs at the US box office and so has probably put Trejo's fee up a bit. Besides, like Seagal and Van Damme, maybe Trejo also feels like he deserves a better credit than 11th place behind UFC stars and former NFL players, and fair dos, he is a 'Mexi-CAN.'
Jamie Lee CurtisWhy: Name the actress in The Expendables, that's right you can't, and if you can she wasn't very good anyway. What we need is someone to really show the boys how it's done, and whilst Bruce Willis and Demi Moore shared a bit of screen-time in Charlies Angels: Full Throttle, it's far more preferrable to bring in Lee Curtis for a number of reasons. For one she was Arnie's wife in the screwball-actioner True Lies, flitting from somewhat dowdy to downright sexy with ease, she's kicked psychotic killer Michael Myer's ass countless times in numerous Halloween sequels so has much of a stake in enduring franchises as any of the 80's action big boys and was superb in Kathryn (The Hurt Locker) Bigelow's 1989 thriller Blue Steel about a rookie-cop who loses her gun. Why Not: Well, there are other probably more suitable action heroines who could take the role, such as the aforementioned Demi Moore, or even Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver, then again perhaps Stallone will just hire some contemporary starlet and tick off another box on the bullets/bikes/babes spreadsheet that set the template for The Expendables part one.
Wesley SnipesWhy: Yet another actor who was offered a role in the original film, but due to tax problems was not allowed to leave America by the Government, but it would be nice to have Stallone's former Demolition Man rival share some screentime with him again in a sequel and despite his financial issues, Snipes can be a fun, dry-witted and stylish screen hero in films such as Blade, Blade II, but not Blade 3. Why Not: If The Expendables II plans to save a few pennies by filming overseas again that might take Snipes out of the running depending on his standing with the IRS, though he could always help them via Skype? Any glaringly obvious choices or your personal favourites we've omitted. Do have your say below...
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