"Expendables 3" is the latest installment in this geriatric franchise that will not die.
The producers round up old geezer action heroes who still have sufficiently bulging biceps to play their roles. They include a snarling Sylvester Stallone, low-key Arnold Schwarzenegger, towering Dolph Lundgren and wicked Mel Gibson.
Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Jason Statham join in the knuckle-busting fun. But a new and much younger team of apprentice fighters is also introduced in this episode. No doubt they are here in a bid to keep the series going after the aging stars become truly expendable.
The plot is even older than the main actors. It utilizes every cliché in the action-adventure playbook. Snappy dialogue makes the killing seem like big-time fun. International intrigue, corrupt governments and terrorists all take their expected places in the predictable screenplay. It looks like "The Dirty Dozen" meets the "A-Team" to "Die Hard" in "Apocalypse Now."
The combat scenes are well done. But the non-stop slaughter looks like a first-person shooter video game. The battles are so long, so relentless and so full of preposterous death that they just numb the mind.
You Sank My Battleship!
Those who enjoy rousing adventure need look no further than "The Admiral: Roaring Currents," about an epic naval battle that defied all odds.
Set in 1597, the beleaguered Korean fleet has been reduced to only 12 ships in a lengthy war with Japan. Adm. Yi Sun-shin realizes his small navy is all that stands between Japan's fleet, which is more than 300 strong, and an invasion of Korea's capital.
He must also find a way to stem the tide of deserters and dissenting officers and turn their fear into courage. Adding to his concerns is the arrival of Kurushima, a "pirate king" appointed by the Japanese who has a personal vendetta against Yi.
Kurushima likes to make strong fashion statements with amazing Darth Vader-ish headpieces. Indeed, the costumes and sets, particularly the ships, are done with such careful detail that they almost distract from the drama.
Veteran actor Choi Min-sik — who played the villainous gangster in "Lucy" — commands the screen as the uncompromising hero. The other characters aren't given much to do except smirk, scream in terror or get it with a sword — sometimes all three in quick order.
Yet the battle scenes are genuine nonstop thrills. It's a wonder anyone could survive the cannon fire, flaming arrows and bloody hand-to-hand combat.
This was a big moment in Korea's history, a real David versus Goliath story and a marvel of combat tactics. Even with a known outcome, "The Admiral" is suspenseful and solid entertainment.