Blu-ray Review: The Expendables Extended Director’s Cut

The Expendables was one of the biggest action films of last year and one of the most testosterone-fueled movies of all-time. Now, with the trailer for the 2012 sequel making its rounds via the Internet, Sylvester Stallone has sat down and put together an extended cut of his movie for guys who like movies. Do the extra handful of minutes, musical changes and randomly changed cuts really make the film better? In Stallone’s opinion, yes; this is exactly what his original vision for the film was. But what about those of us who may be trying to decide which version to pick up or whether or not one should invest in this version if they already own the original?

For the uninitiated, The Expendables is about a team of mercenaries that are hired by a man known only as “Church” to infiltrate a small South American island and kill the ruthless dictator, General Garza (Dexter’s David Zayas). Of course, the team isn’t aware that they’re actually being played by the CIA into taking out a rogue CIA agent named James Munroe (Eric Roberts), who is the puppet master behind Garza’s criminal actions. Lots of stuff explodes, witty lines are traded back and forth and things get very bloody, and that’s pretty much all there is to know about the plot of the film.

That may sound fairly cut and paste, and it is to a degree (much like most of the movies that these action stars have starred in), but that’s okay, because that’s what we expect and because that’s what works. The all-star action cast is led by Sylvester Stallone (who also co-wrote and directed the film), and fleshed out with Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis. This really is the who’s who of action stars, with the sequel only upping the ante come August with the addition of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris.

Stallone really nails the genre with this film and takes what each of these actors are known for in their films crams them all into one explosive package. He’s got an incredible knack for directing, and if The Expendables isn’t proof enough for you, take a look at his recent resurrections of Rocky Balboa and Rambo. Stallone just knows how to tell the story he wants to tell in a way that appeals to his target audience. The greatest part about his work on The Expendables is that even with so many individual stars involved he makes sure they each get their moments to shine within the film – and that’s even truer with the extended edition.

While it may only be a few additional minutes in the long run, The Expendables: The Extended Director’s Cut adds a few extra moments to each character, allowing them more time to grow as opposed to the theatrical cut’s main focus being on Stallone and Statham’s characters (though that was for a good reason, as they are the two most interesting characters with the best chemistry). The opening sequence when the team is flying home from a mission is where we get to see things slow down a bit more, and helps humanize these muscle-bound men somewhat. It’s a nice addition and helps set the pace for the small additions to come.

That being said, those looking for a whole new version of the film will be disappointed. While I do believe this is the superior cut of the film, and that the extended moments and minor changes help add a bit of character to a movie that’s all about body counts, witty dialogue and fantastic action sequences, if you’re not a big fan of double-dipping then this might be a tough sell. However, those who haven’t picked up a copy of the original, or who are fans of the series in general, The Expendables Extended Director’s Cut is definitely the way to go.

The video is shown in 1080p HD and looks great. There are no noticeable complaints to be had as far as the transfer is concerned, and that goes the same for audio. The dialogue is so quick-witted and filled with one-liners and back and forth banter that it would be unfortunate if it was muffled out by the explosions or soundtrack. Fortunately that’s not the case, as the film sounds fantastic presented in its 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

As far as special features are concerned, those who have the original release of the film are the only ones who have Stallone’s director’s commentary. So if you’re looking for the commentary, it unfortunately isn’t included on this release due to the changes made and Stallone not being able to re-record a new commentary as he’s filming the sequel.

Fortunately, there is an abundance of other behind-the-scenes featurettes that should tide even the most picky extras fan over.

Introduction by Sylvester Stallone – This is a quick two and a half minute introduction by Stallone where he talks about how during post-production sometimes the filmmaker’s view on the movie changes, and that’s what happened with the theatrical cut of The Expendables. He then quickly skims over how he went back and added a few changes throughout, as well as musical additions that he had originally chosen to be in the film.

Sylvester Stallone: A Director in Action – This is an interesting, in-depth 20-minute interview with Stallone about his work on The Expendables. While it’s not a commentary, it at least gives viewers an idea about what it was like for him being both in front of and behind the camera during such an explosive shoot.

Inferno: The Making of The Expendables – This featurette runs at just over 90-minutes in length, so to say that it covers pretty much all you’d want covered as far as the film is concerned is an understatement. Those who have the original release will likely have seen this, and those who haven’t will eat it up.

Action: The Expendables – This is a Spike TV special on the film, running at roughly 20-minutes in length. Those who didn’t get enough with the previous features can get a few other tidbits from the set by watching this piece as well.

There’s also the music video to “Sinner’s Prayer” by Sully Erna for those interested.

The Expendables Extended Director’s Cut is the way to watch the film if you have the choice. While there are no ground-breaking changes that alter the film in any way that would make this pick-up essential to those who already own the original release, the Extended Director’s Cut is highly recommended to anyone who doesn’t already own it, to those who can’t get enough action in their diet, and to anyone who ever wanted to know the answer to which is faster, bullets or a blade?

Lionsgate and Millennium Films present The Expendables: Extended Director’s Cut. Directed by: Sylvester Stallone. Written by: David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis. Running time: 113 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: December 13, 2011. Available at

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