Nadia Elkharadly: Girls on Film – Action Edition

I’ve written before that I am no expert on film.  My favourite movies are comedies, music documentaries, and big dumb action movies.  So when my movie buff brother Amir asked me to watch The Expendables 2 with him this weekend, I obviously jumped at the chance.

When The Expendables came out a couple of years ago, I thought it was one of the most ridiculous, and also one of the greatest movies ever.  Not in a cinematic masterpiece sort of way, because I’m not completely unhinged, but it was so entertaining.  The special effects were and fighting sequences were top notch, the story line non-existent and the script was laughably bad.

All of these things came together to make the quintessential dumb action movie.  But my favourite aspect of the movie was how the actors (Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews and Randy Couture) all seemed to be having a complete blast while making that movie.  They cracked jokes at each other, made rude jokes and generally acted like assholes for the camera.  It was clear that this was just a pet project of Sylvester Stallone; the Rambo actor one day decided to write and produce a movie so he would have an excuse to make a movie with all his buddies.  I’m sure making a boatload of money on it didn’t hurt matters either.

I couldn’t tell you what the hell the Expendables was about.  All I know is bunch of guys were fighting a bunch of guys, sometimes with guns, sometimes with fists. I think there was a girl in it at some point.  Either way, there was really no plot.  So how did a film with no plot end up with a sequel?  The answer is WHO CARES.  The Expendables 2 was the most wonderfully mindless piece of action cinema I’ve seen in a long time.  The first 20 minutes had about six words spoken in them, and about 300 explosions, 25,000 bullets and 750 punches and kicks thrown.  They definitely attempted to have a plot, as thin as it was.  Tragedy strikes when the newest and youngest member of the team (played by an extremely good looking Liam Hemsworth) is killed by the power-hungry and money grubbing villain (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme), and Stallone’s Barney Ross and his merry band of miscreants go to great and visually impressive lengths to avenge his untimely death.  Again, the highlight of this film was watching Stallone and company just having a great time making this movie.  They don’t take themselves seriously at all.  From the terrible, likely ad-libbed jokes to the ironic character names (Hale Caeser and Jean-Vilain anyone?), no attempt at humour went unturned.  Every actor’s catch phrase was thrown in for laughs, from Willis’ “Yippee Kaye Eh” to the returning-for-more-than-a-cameo Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back.”  Even new cast addition Chuck Norris got in on the fun, and that alone was worth the price of admission.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the Expendables 2 is that this film actually included a female character who was NOT a damsel in distress.  While the character of techie soldier Maggie was very capably played by Nan Yu, she was only one women swimming in a sea of testosterone and Drakkar Noir (seriously, how bad must that set have smelled after a few Stallone fight sequences?).  So when I came upon this piece of newsI was very pleased: An Expendables inspired film was in the works; this time, with an all-female cast.

Hollywood has no shortage of ass kicking female leads, past, present, and future.  A female oriented Expendables type flick would be, in a word, awesome.  You can already tell by googling “the expendables – female” that every film blogger/writer/critic/lover will be brainstorming a list of the who’s who that should make this cast.  Never one to walk away from a party while it’s just getting started I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring too. So here are my ideal female cast counterparts to the men of the Expendables:

Sylvester Stallone – Milla Jovovich

The former model turned action star is used to being a leader.  Her Resident Evil recurring character, Alice, is the beacon of hope for the bedraggled remains of the human race after a zombie apocalypse.  The fact that she has super human strength and agility, as well as super soldier training doesn’t hurt either.  Also she’s the only one immune to the zombie virus.  With these leadership qualities and experience, Jovovich could take that Alice-inspiration and command the respect of her fellow female action stars.

Jason Statham – Kate Beckinsale

A deadly and gorgeous leader requires an equally deadly and gorgeous right hand woman.  Stallone had Jason Statham as the Lee Christmas to his Barney Ross, and Jovovich should have Kate Beckinsale as her British sidekick.  The Underworld star has a dark and edgy side, but her comedic work in Serendipity proved that she not only can brood and battle with the best of them, but she can smile and crack a joke as well.


Jet Li– Michelle Yeoh

Li’s Yin Yang character was a martial arts expert with a sharp wit and a deadly roundhouse.  Bantering with his fellow mercenaries he took their bad Asian jokes in stride and kicked the asses of men several times his size.  His female counterpart would have to be just as witty and just as deadly.  That’s why Michelle Yeoh would be perfect for the job.  The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon not only has a beautiful fighting style, but has the wit and charisma of a Bond Girl – literally (she played Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies).  She would be perfect to back up Jovovich, which quietly yet coyly tossing one liners over her shoulder.

Bruce Willis – Sigourney Weaver

Willis and Weaver are legends in the action movie business.  Both have incredibly success franchises to their name (Die Hard and Alien respectively), and both look very intimidating while holding large weapons.  While Weaver can still kick serious ass, lately she prefers to do it while in suit, and with her words so she would be the perfect taskmaster, giving Jovovich and company their marching orders.  Of course, she’d still strap on a machine gun and march into enemy fire, but only if her team really needed her to.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Linda Hamilton

Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor from the Terminator films is still one of the most iconic female action movie characters.  From terrified and confused to stone faced and determined, Sarah Connor evolves, adapts and survives in spite of the multiple killer robots the future sends after her.  She’s resourceful and a capable soldier, and her experience leading, training and protecting her son John Connor would make her a great leader to another mercenary team, as Schwarzenegger did in Expendables 2.  I’m sure that after working on the set of three films with old Arnold, Hamilton can definitely mimic his surliness, and maybe even do a thick Austrian accent to really drive the point home.

Dolph Lundgren – Uma Thurman

Every team of hired guns needs a tall blonde with a violent streak, and there’s no taller, more violent tall blonde actress than Uma Thurman.  She single handedly slashed her way through Kill Bill 1 and 2 wielding her sword like an extension of her gracefully long arm.  Though she couldn’t bring the big dumb lug (who’s actually a genius) factor like Lundgren can, her Black Mamba intensity would have enemies running before she even drew her weapon.

Jean Claude Van Damme – Lena Heady

Having proved her ass kicking chops in her own attempt at Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, Game of Thrones star Lena Heady has showed audiences of the HBO drama that she truly excels at playing the bad gal as well.  Her portrayal of ice queen Cersei Lannister is spot on – she is cold, conniving and deliciously deceptive.  Combine that death glare with those pipes she was sporting as Sarah Connor and we have a nemesis that would give even the most hardened action heroine a real challenge.

I can’t wait for this movie to come out.

Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

4 Responses to “Nadia Elkharadly: Girls on Film – Action Edition”

  1. I would totally see that movie!!! For the sequel can I add Canadian Carrie-Anne Moss, Pam Grier/Foxy Brown…and I must admit, Angelina Jolie has played some pretty bad-ass characters!

  2. Bravo! Love the Femspendables idea and your choices for the lead roles…maybe have Angelina in there too and how about Lucy Liu?

  3. both great choices Jamie! there really is a huge bank of female action stars to choose from, i hope the powers that be end up picking good ones.

  4. I would go the opposite direction, like they did with Helen Mirren in Red or the Chloe O’Brian character in 24 — cast against type. Who didn’t cheer when Chloe finally picked up an assault rifle and blew away a bad guy? Imagine women like Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Perkins, Emily Blunt, Ellen Page, Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman and so on hanging up their ballet shoes, strapping on the hardware and kicking ass.

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