Movie Review: The Expendables 3 (2014)

October 29, 2014 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

The-Expendables-3

I remember when I thought the idea of The Expendables, which grouped together a huge handful of old action stars, would be a good premise — if the film was made 10-15 years ago. That was back in 2010, when they made the first film. Now, with the stars another 4 years older, slower and more mutated by HGH, we have been bestowed a third installment in the franchise, and the results are more ghastly than the cracks on Mel Gibson’s face.

The first Expendables was not very good, but at least it was fresh. The second film was more of the same, except less fresh, and now the third film is simply stale. The Expendables do a dangerous job, a villain appears, hurts or kills one of their own, and revenge is ultimately accomplished following a lot of gunfire, explosions, poor attempts at “character development,” and Sly Stallone running around in platform boots yelling incoherently. It’s a proven formula for box office success.

In fact, you’re not likely to remember what the film is even about the next day, and memories of all three films will probably blend into one giant I-don’t-give-a-shit. For the loyal fans, it doesn’t really matter.

My memory of the film is already starting to fade. I am fairly certain that Mel Gibson is the villain because this is the only role in Hollywood he can get these days. I know Harrison Ford is in it because I remember thinking that he is doing a horrible job of convincing people that he has not turned completely senile. Wesley Snipes is the new addition to the oldies, but he doesn’t offer much apart from a “they went there” joke about his well-publicized problems. Arnie is back, but Bruce Willis is out (complete with a cheesy joke to go along with it). Jet Li makes his usual contract-obligated cameo, and Antonio Banderas is in it for some reason. As you can see, The Expendables franchise has more or less become a charity for old actors who want to keep gettin’ ’em checks. But hey, why blame them for exploiting the market? As long as there is demand there will be supply, no matter how many wrinkles there are. I fully expect Nicholas Cage to be in the next one.

To be fair, Stallone does try to infuse new blood into the series by hiring a bunch of potential box office draws, such as MMA badass Ronda Rousey, Twilight alumnus Kellan Lutz and former welterweight boxing champion Victor Ortiz. They each get to show off a little bit, but with so many people sharing the same pie it’s not really worth your time if you just want to see the film because of one or two people.

Now that the novelty of star power has worn off for good, The Expendables franchise must turn to action and cheesy humor to make up for it. The action, to be honest, felt like more of the same. I suppose the guns, knives and explosions are arguably bigger, but for me it was a case of different shit, same smell. I do, however, give kudos for the tongue-in-cheek cheesy humour. One of the franchise’s greatest strengths is understanding what a big joke everything is and its stars’ ability to make fun of themselves, and The Expendables 3 is no different.

I understand the appeal of the Expendables concept and why people (including myself) have flocked to it time and time again. The undeniable reality, however, is that the films have never lived up to the concept, and I doubt they ever can. I can see how there are those who still enjoy it, but I’ve become numb and indifferent after three mediocre efforts. I think my wife summed up my sentiments best with her one-word review when I asked her what she thought of it: “Whatever.”

2 stars out of 5

Mayweather KOs Ortiz in shocking fashion!

September 18, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

Al Bello/Getty Images

[Update: Analysis updated below]

I haven’t had a chance to watch the fight again, but what just happened was crazy.  Floyd Mayweather Jr just KOed Victor Ortiz in the fourth round of their WBC Welterweight title fight with a left-right combo many perceived to be cheap or even sucker punches.

Mayweather had won the first three rounds against Victor Ortiz  (at least two of the three, anyway), and towards the end of the fourth Ortiz finally put together a decent string of punches and pinned Mayweather in the corner.  Perhaps frustrated that he couldn’t do any serious damage, Ortiz launched an obvious and clearly illegal head butt at Mayweather, which led to a point deduction from referee Joe Cortez.

Ortiz apologised to Mayweather several times (including a hug and a kiss on the cheek) and the two ended up in the centre of the ring.  While Cortez was still talking to the ringside officials, Ortiz again went to Mayweather to touch gloves, and then went in and gave him a another little hug near the centre of the ring.  When Ortiz pulled back, Mayweather immediately assaulted him with a hard left, then added a punishing right hand that landed flush on Ortiz’s jaw.  Ortiz never saw the punch coming (he appeared to be looking at Cortez, or at the very least he was still trying to apologise), and neither did Cortez, who was still communicating with the ringside officials when both punches connected.  Nevertheless, Ortiz was struggled to get up and was counted out.

Boos showered the ring and in the post fight interview Mayweather refused to answer HBO interviewer Larry Merchant’s questions about the perceived cheap shot.  When pressed, Mayweather exploded into a tirade and said that HBO ought to fire Merchant.  He also said “you don’t know shit about boxing”, “you ain’t shit” and “you’re not shit” in Merchant’s face, before trying to turn away.  Merchant said he wished he were 50 years younger so he could kick Mayweather’s ass.

Perhaps even stranger than the KO itself and Mayweather’s reaction was Ortiz’s — he seemed kind of content about the whole thing, smiling, saying that one could look at it in two ways (ie, dirty or not dirty) and that it was a learning experience for him.

I will post more detailed thoughts on this after rewatching the fight, but my initial reaction is that Ortiz has no one to blame but himself.  He threw the head butt that landed put him in the predicament in the first place.  He was the one that tried to apologise too much AND dish out a hug, which was not necessary.  Cortez had re-engaged the boxers when the punches landed (even though he was still talking to ringside officials).  And they always say, “Protect yourself at all times.”  Was it a cheap shot?  Probably.  But it was legal.  However, from a publicity perspective, it can’t be good for Floyd’s already crumbling image.

More to come.  In the meantime, check out this YouTube replay of the KO while it still lasts.

[Update: as expected, the video has been taken down from YouTube]

Updated Analysis

Okay, I’ve now had time to watch a replay of the fight.

Ortiz was clearly the bigger guy (he was at the 147 limit at weigh-in but came into ring at 164, while Mayweather weighed 146.5 and came in at 150 — so a massive 14 pound difference!) but he didn’t really fight like one.  From the outset, Mayweather seemed like the sharper, more focused fighter, while Ortiz was more plodding and looking to land wild punches.

I wouldn’t say Mayweather ‘dominated’ the first two rounds but he did enough to win them in my book.  The straight right hand was his best punch and he connected them several times against Ortiz’s head.  The third round was a clear Mayweather round as he tagged Ortiz numerous times and evaded most of Ortiz’s big swings.  Ortiz never looked hurt or anything but he just didn’t appear to be on par with Mayweather either in terms of technical ability, speed or defense.

I was particularly amazed that Mayweather did not back away from Ortiz at all, and at times was even backing Ortiz up.  On the other hand, Ortiz didn’t try and impose his size on Mayweather like I thought he would, and he very rarely went to the body.

The fourth round was all Mayweather from the start, but Ortiz kept throwing and eventually landed a few of his own.  Mayweather shook his head as if to inform Ortiz that they didn’t hurt him.  Then, with about 20 seconds left in the round, Ortiz caught Mayweather with a good shot, which sent Mayweather retreating along the ropes.  Ortiz followed and pinned Mayweather in the corner but most of his power blows were either dodged or deflected.  Frustrated, Ortiz threw a silly (because it was so obvious) intentional head butt that cut Mayweather’s bottom lip.

Referee Joe Cortez stepped in and called time immediately.  While he tried to make a ruling Ortiz went up to Mayweather to apologise, hugging him and even pecking him on the cheek (not sure if the kiss connected though).  Cortez pulled Ortiz away and signalled a point deduction and said to him, “Don’t be doing that!”  Cortez could then be heard to say, “Let’s go,” and signalled time on, but he continued to look towards ringside as Ortiz and Mayweather made their way to the centre of the ring and Ortiz initiated a glove touch and another hug.

As Ortiz stepped back from the semi-embrace (Mayweather appeared to be pushing him a little), and while Cortez was still communicating with ringside, Mayweather threw a left hook that landed clean.  Ortiz may have been looking at Cortez when that hook landed, but he was definitely looking Cortez’s way when Mayweather followed up with a vicious right straight hand that knocked Ortiz off his feet and into the corner.

Cortez didn’t seem to process what had happened until Ortiz was already on the ground, but he proceeded to count anyway.  Ortiz never really looked like he was going to make it, and sure enough, the count reached 10 and the fight was officially over at 2:59 in the fourth round!

The crowd went nuts and there was confusion all round, including from the commentators.  Ortiz got up and sat down in the corner, and Floyd went over and the two exchanged words.  Ortiz smiled at whatever Mayweather said, completely unlike someone who just got KOed by two cheap shots.

Mayweather was announced the winner (now 42-0 with 26 KOs) and Larry Merchant entered to interview him.  The largely pro-Ortiz crowd (despite the fight being in Mayweather’s home town of Las Vegas), having seen the replay a couple of times by now, was booing loudly as Merchant asked Mayweather about the controversial ending.

Instead of answering the questions, Mayweather (who made $25+ million) said whatever he wanted, thanking God, thanking the audience and PPV customers.  They then watched the replay together and Mayweather said that fighters are supposed to protect themselves at all times, that it was not about what Ortiz did dirty or what he did dirty, and that if Ortiz wants a rematch he can have one.

The 80-year-old Merchant continued to press on, at which time an agitated Mayweather got into his face and said, “You never give me a fair shake…HBO needs to fire you!  You know shit about boxing!  You ain’t shit!  You’re not shit!”

Merchant responded with, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass!”

(This really happened — I’m not making any of this up.  The funniest thing was watching Leonard Ellerbe, one of Floyd’s “yes men” who is clearly deeply in love with him, sticking his fat head in and adding comments like, “You heard him!”)

Floyd and his entourage left the interview, and a smiling Merchant turned to a smiling Ortiz (now 29-3-2), whose face was swelling up under the eyes.  Seriously, if I had just tuned in, I would have thought Ortiz had won the fight judging from the smile on his face.  He did not look like a man disappointed after a somewhat dodgy KO.

When questioned, Ortiz said it wasn’t his fault, the ref called a break and he did exactly as he was told, but when he looked up, “Boom!” and he was out.

Regarding the head butt, Ortiz made up some lame excuse about it not being intentional.  When they watched the KO again, Ortiz said, “It’s okay,” and when Merchant asked him what he thought of the controversial ending he said, “You could look at it two ways.  At the end of the day, you know what?  I came out here to show the fans a good time and as far as I’m concerned I think they did have a good time, except for that little miscommunication there by the ref.  But hey, it happens.  I’m not perfect, no one is, and neither is the ref.  So I have no one to blame for it.  It’s a learning experience.”

The public reaction has been mixed.  The anti-Mayweather fans labelled the KO punches cheap shots and sucker punchers and used it to back up their assertion that Mayweather is classless.  Everyone else agrees that it was a legal blow and it was Ortiz’s fault for not protecting himself at all times.

I’m far from a Floyd fan (I appreciate his ability though) but I have to agree with the sentiment of the latter.  Ortiz definitely did a stupid thing there with the intentional head butt, which clearly angered Floyd, who looked like he was ready to take his game up another notch.  You could see it in his eyes as soon as Cortez called time on.  Ortiz, perhaps still embarrassed by what he did (how else could you explain the excessive apologising?), left himself wide open, and Floyd took advantage.  It wasn’t classy but it was within the rules, and besides, Ortiz was the one that resorted to cheap tactics first.

Perhaps this later quote from Ortiz summed up how he felt.  “I apologised to [Mayweather] after the fight as well.  It was in the heat of the moment.  In a sense, it was a payback.”

I have to say I’m disappointed in Ortiz (who came away with a cool $2+ million for 12 minutes of action)– not for the head butt, but for the way he reacted after the loss.  It was as though he had secretly expected it all along and it didn’t even sting to be KOed in that fashion.  Perhaps he knew he was being outclassed and thought that going out in this controversial manner was better than being pummelled for the rest of the fight.

Now, all we have to do is wait for Pacquiao vs Marquez III in November, and hopefully if Pacquiao wins we can start looking forward to Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2012.   According to Pacquiao in recent interviews, random blood testing is no longer an issue, so barring any unforeseen circumstances this fight will finally happen!

Fight Prediction: Mayweather vs Ortiz

September 14, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

On September 17 in Las Vegas, undefeated 34-year-old Floyd Mayweather Jr (41-0,  25KOs) will return from a 16-month lay off take on 24-year-old southpaw brawler Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22KOs) for Ortiz’s WBC Welterweight belt.

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Floyd Mayweather Jr is entertaining.  Some would say more out of the ring than in it, though true fans of the sport can’t help but be in awe of his phenomenal ability.  And sure, Mayweather is not fighting the man everyone wants him to fight, Manny Pacquiao, but Victor Ortiz does make a very interesting ‘tune up’ for the Pacman — if the megafight is to finally take place next year as recent reports would suggest.

In the meantime, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Ortiz is a dangerous young opponent coming off a career reviving win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April 2011 — his most satisfying win since being stopped by Marcos Maidana in 2009 where many believed a badly cut Ortiz had quit against his heavy-hitting opponent.  But does he stand a chance against someone in the class of Floyd Mayweather Jr?

Personally, I’m kind of torn here.  I’d love to see someone knock Mayweather off his pedestal, but at the same time that could spell the end of Mayweather-Pacquiao — and after all these years of waiting, that would be a monumental disappointment.

That said, the probability of Ortiz pulling off the upset is incredibly slim.  On paper, at least, or if you’ve ever watched the two men in action, Mayweather should punish Ortiz and give him a boxing lesson all night long.  Mayweather is simply too skilled, too slick, too fast, too experienced, and too defensively sound for someone as raw as Ortiz.  On top of that, Mayweather seldom gets hit flush, and when he does, he has survived and come back stronger.  His ability to adjust mid-fight is second to none.

But as the saying goes, anything can happen in boxing, and Ortiz at least appears to have the weapons and temperament to trouble Mayweather, whose form after 16 months off could potentially be a little off.

First of all, Ortiz is 10 years younger than Mayweather and, judging from his last fight, is in the form and shape of his life.  He’s like a caged animal that has been released after years in captivity and has this fearless attitude about him, like he just wants to tear through everyone in front of him.  His motivation and determination is through the roof right now.

Secondly, Ortiz is physically stronger than Mayweather and visibly bigger.  At 5’9″ he is an inch taller and has arms like tree trunks.  His thick body is also built like a brick house.  His punches can do serious damage and it looks like he’ll be able to take a punch much better than he used to.

Thirdly, Ortiz may not be as fast as Mayweather but he does have decent speed.  I’m not sure if it’s enough to bother Mayweather but it could be a significant factor in the fight if Mayweather underestimates it.

Fourthly, Ortiz is a southpaw, and we’ve all heard about Floyd’s troubles with southpaws throughout the years (Corley, Judah, etc).  The conventional response to that assertion is that Floyd has beaten every southpaw he has faced, but it must give Ortiz encouragement that Floyd has more difficulty with southpaws than orthodox fighters, primarily because his celebrated shoulder roll technique doesn’t work as well against southpaws.  It has to count for something, right?

Another thing Floyd is said to have problems with is a strong, stiff jab, which Ortiz also has.  He just has to learn to utilise it consistently throughout the fight.

On the flip side, Mayweather has not fought for 16 months, not since his May 2010 fight against Sugar Shane Mosley which he dominated after a major scare in round 2 where Mosley rocked him with a couple of big right hands.  Before that, Mayweather dominated Pacquiao’s next opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez, in September 2009.  And before that, a KO against Ricky Hatton in December 2007.  That’s three opponents in 45 months!  Yes, Mayweather won all those fights, but the inactivity, combined with his age (34) could come back to bite him in a hurry.

Mayweather also has brittle hands and hasn’t shown genuine KO power for quite some time, which could allow Ortiz to walk through some punches in order to land his own.  And if he does, will Mayweather be able to withstand the onslaught?  As the fight against Mosley suggested, if a big power shot lands in the right place, Mayweather can be hurt.

Lastly, there’s the distractions.  We all know about the Mayweather family’s legal troubles, and now the first episode of the Mayweather-Ortiz 24/7 series (one of the best yet, by the way) has revealed another rift between father and son.  Junior insists it doesn’t bother him at all, but his face suggests a different story.

Do all of these things add up to an upset in the cards?  Possible, but unlikely.  I’d put Ortiz’s chances of pulling off the improbable win at around 10-15%, and he’ll most probably have to do it via a stunning knockout.  He’ll have to be aggressive but patient, use that stiff jab of his to control the pace and pounce on Mayweather and not give him a chance to dictate.  If Ortiz goes in looking to brawl his way to a win he’ll become the perfect target for Mayweather’s counters.  If he remains disciplined and uses controlled aggression he could shock the world.

The more likely scenario is one where Ortiz comes out with guns blazing, takes it to Mayweather in the first couple of rounds, maybe even win them…before Mayweather figures out Ortiz’s style and schools him the rest of the way en route to a clear unanimous victory or even a late round KO.  I am still suspicious of Mayweather’s power at this stage of his career so I am going to predict a comfortable Mayweather UD.

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Mayweather to take on Ortiz; Pacquiao tune-up?

June 8, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

Just when I thought we’d never see him in the boxing ring again, Floyd Mayweather Jr has suddenly announced that he will take on WBC Welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz on 17 September 2011.

Bogged down by various legal dramas, the last thing I expected was for Mayweather to declare that he was ready to step back in the ring.  He hasn’t fought since defeating Shane Mosley in May 2010, meaning it will be a 16 month lay off for him.

Two ways to look at this.  The first is that Mayweather is needs money but doesn’t want to take on the man everyone wants to see him fight: Manny Pacquiao.

(I won’t go into the history of it all, but essentially negotiations between the two fighters have broken down twice already over additional drug testing procedures, and may or may not have broken down a third or fourth time according to Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum when Mayweather allegedly tried to price himself out by asking for $100 million.  Mayweather’s camp denied further negotiations ever took place, though third parties contradict this denial.  There is also the additional issue of Pacquiao suing Mayweather and his family for defamation for suggesting that Pacquiao is on performance enhancing drugs.)

Mayweather’s decision to take on Ortiz is a curious one because Arum has stated all along that if Mayweather comes to the table, he will be Pacquiao’s number one choice.  No one else matters.  This means that if Mayweather really wanted to fight Pacquiao all he had to do was pick up the phone after Pacquiao’s win over Mosley last month, and the fight would have been made already.

Instead, Mayweather waited until Pacquiao signed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time on 12 November 2011 before announcing a fight of his own.

More interestingly, Mayweather has refused to fight Pacquiao allegedly because of completely unsubstantiated PED accusations, and yet the man he has chosen to fight, Victor Ortiz, was recently implicated in PEDs by the man he had just beaten, Andre Berto.  Of course, Berto’s assertions were also completely unsubstantiated, but if his suspicions of Pacquiao were sufficient to destroy the megafight, then why not Ortiz too?

The second and more optimistic view is that Mayweather is taking on Ortiz as a tune up for Manny Pacquiao in 2012.  Mayweather undoubtedly will want to shake off some rust after the long lay off, and Ortiz just happens to be a young, strong stud AND a southpaw, something which Pacquiao is also.

I sure hope the second view is the right one and the potentially biggest fight of all time will happen next year!

The Matchup

Apart from Pacquiao, everyone just assumes that Mayweather will win no matter who he fights.  But Ortiz is a dangerous opponent, coming off a solid but close decision win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April.  He has a strong 29-2-2 (22KOs) record and as mentioned above, is a southpaw, and Mayweather has tended to struggle more against southpaws.

Furthermore, Mayweather is now 34 years old and might be slowing down.  We won’t really know for sure until we see him in the ring, given how long it’s been, but it is possible.  On the other hand, Ortiz is just 24 and appears to have hit his prime after the brutal battle against Berto.

I’d still say the risks are low because of the experience and skill factors, but just like Marquez has a chance of unseating Pacquiao, Ortiz could also shock the world against Mayweather.  For the sake of Mayweather-Pacquiao happening next year, I hope both men can win.

PS: I mentioned in an earlier post the Marquez was to take on David Diaz as a tune up before Pacquiao, but this fight has fallen through because of financial considerations.