OK so there are the good guys: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren (sort of), Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, The Guvernator himself, Bruce Willis (again, sort of). And there are some bad guys: Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Gary Daniels, a gazillion supersized Extras. They’re all mercenaries in one way or another and they fight, a LOT. There’s also a plot (again, sort of) that features Somali Pirates, Latin American Dictators and a beautiful woman who needs saving, but frankly don’t worry about any of that too much because really The Expendables is just a 90 minute celluloid showcase for explosions and shit-hot hand-to-hand combat.
Of course The Expendables is formulaic, but formulas are used because they work. And this one rises above similar dross because of the genuine sense of friendship between the male leads, Stallone and Statham in particular. In fact, Stallone’s a bit of a revelation here because – in spite of the testosterone levels that threaten to sweep the film away like a Hungarian toxic sludge – he really doesn’t play the big man, just a kind of self-effacing nice guy. Sweet.
The American scenes were shot in Louisiana, but the fictional Island of Verdana was actually Brazil; locations include the coastline city of Mangaratiba, Niterói, Baía de Guanabara, Parque Lage and the favela Tavares Bastos. Monsters and Critics.com has locations pics, as does Coming Soon.net. The pier at Mangaratiba Bay in particular makes a big impression – five cameras rolled simultaneously to catch the action, which included a boatplane and an awful lot of dynamite.