Well the time has finally come; it’s the end of Expendables Week here at Screen Rant and now it’s time to cover the man that made this all possible – Sylvester Stallone.
There are a handful of names that come to mind when talking about 80s male action stars – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal – those are all some pretty big names, yes, but Stallone is quite possibly the biggest name in action to emerge from the 1980s.
He started in films in the early ’70s, but really increased in popularity in the late 70s with his portrayal of the “The Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa. The character would carry him into the 80s and well beyond.
Sylvester Stallone – Barney Ross
In The Expendables Stallone plays Barney Ross, the mercenary marksman who leads the team. Described as “void of emotion” Barney is the “strategist leading his men to the fringe.” Stallone has done several movies that qualify him to be the leader of The Expendables team, but we have chosen our top 10 favorite roles that we feel best personify his reputation as an action movie badass.
#10 – Death Race 2000
In Roger Corman’s classic B movie, Stallone is Machine Gun Joe Vetirbo and is Frankenstein’s biggest competition in a cross country race where the drivers score points by killing certain people with their cars – an oldie but goodie.
#9 – Cop Land
In a role that probably rivals his 1976 Rocky performance, Stallone is Freddy Heflin, the sheriff of Garrison, NJ, where New York City cops come to live – hence the name Cop Land. There is corruption in his town and some of the NYC police officers and Heflin have to weed it out. Stallone actually shows off some pretty good acting chops in this film, playing a down-on-his-luck loser who wants to be as badass as the other boys in blue around him.
#8 – Tango & Cash
In what is probably my favorite Stallone film of all time, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! Tango & Cash, Stallone teams up with Kurt Russell in a film that makes absolutely no sense with its story but somehow manages to entertain every time I watch it.
#7 – Rocky
“Yo Adrian! I did it!” Of course this line wasn’t uttered until the end of Rocky II but the original Rocky stands out as one of the best films Stallone ever wrote and acted in. To this day, his training montage scenes have inspired countless other copycat scenes, and if you ever get to the top steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and don’t turn around and lift your arms triumphantly in the air, then you’re probably under the age of 20.
#6 – Demolition Man
How badass is Sylvester Stallone? So badass that even when he plays a cop he gets the nickname Demolition Man because of all the damage his does while capturing bad guys. Even when they freeze his character and re-thaw him in the future, he’s still the baddest man on the planet.
#5 – Cobra
OK look – when you are such a badass cop that your nickname comes from one of the most deadliest snakes on the planet, then you have officially taken over as King of the Land of Badass. He’s smooth, he’s tough and he’s the cure for which crime is the disease.
#4 – Rocky Balboa
People thought Stallone was crazy for attempting one more Rocky film (especially after the letdown that was Rocky V) but he had one more story he wanted to tell and man did he tell it well. There are very few films that tug on my hearts strings, but Rocky Balboa did just that. This was a fantastic ending to such a memorable character.
#3 – Rocky IV
While Rocky 1, 2 and 3 were good, even great at times, there is nothing like watching the end fight in Rocky IV where Stallone goes up against fellow Expendable Dolph Lundgren. I’ve said it before, but if you don’t get chills from watching this scene then there is a good chance you may be dead inside.
#2 – Rambo
The Rambo series was another franchise that has a character who can only be played by Stallone. Twenty years passed between Rambo films and just like Rocky Balboa, Stallone again had a specific story he wanted to share with audiences. It may not be accepted by all viewers as a fine piece of filmmaking, but to fans of the series it was a pretty satisfying end chapter. And man, talk about bloodshed – the last twenty minutes of Rambo has enough graphic violence to make most other action movies look like rom-coms.
#1 – First Blood
This is the one that started it all. The film that put Stallone on the action hero map. This movie and character made every man and boy want to go out buy an over-sized military combat knife, strip topless, cover himself in mud, put on a red bandanna and live in the forest. Funny thing about the knife – in each film it gets bigger and bigger until in the last Rambo he tosses it and makes a homemade machete half the size of my leg. Read into that whoever you want.
It’s been a long fun Expendables Week here at Screen Rant, and we thank you for strolling down – what is for a lot of us – memory lane. Most of the writers on this site grew up watching these sometiems cheesy but always exciting action films from the ’80s and ’90s, and we hope you’ve had as much fun reminiscing about them as we did.
What are your choices for the films that best qualify Stallone to be an Expendable?
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