Sydenham’s action hero Jason Statham is back, and he’s brought his chums including Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas and Kellan Lutz.
The 47-year-old actor, born in Sydenham and living in Forest Hill, was at a press conference in London yesterday (August 4) to promote his new film, the all-star The Expendables 3.
Statham, who trained as an elite diver at Crystal Palace as a young man and went on to represent his country at the Olympic and Commonwealth games, returns as knife expert Lee Christmas.
In this outing, Barney Ross’s (Sylvester Stallone) team of ageing mercenaries are put out to pasture after failing to stop dastardly arms dealer and one-time colleague Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) but are called back into action when Ross’ team of young guns runs into trouble.
At a press conference with the stars in London on Monday (August 4), producer Avi Lerner said: “I think Expendables 3 is the biggest action movie I have done.”
And that’s saying something – he has more than 370 films to his credit including the likes of Rambo and Olympus Has Fallen.
Aside from scenery-chewing action, the film is an enjoyable romp with its tongue firmly in its cheek and a barrage of self-references.
The franchise’s third outing is broader than its predecessors with less graphic violence but still plenty of shooting and crashing.
Sylvester Stallone, who co-wrote the movie as well as starring, said: “I thought also with the amount of violence and warfare in this movie, if it was graphic then after a while it would be nauseating.”
The result is one the Rocky star is rightly proud of.
He said: “Usually I grade the quality of a film by the intensity of the injury.
“When I do stuff like Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, I never get hurt.
“When I do The Expendables, I break my neck, dislocate both shoulders (which he sustained during the shooting of the original The Expendables) – and I think ‘this is going to be a good movie’.
“In this one I ended up really taking a fall on my back and having metal put in there; so if I’m squeaking, deal with it. It’s not my shoes, it’s my back.”
With two decades less wear and tear than Sly, Statham clearly didn’t have the same problems with injury during filming.
He quipped: “I snapped a shoelace. It was very depressing.”
Stallone added: “Jason actually fought death at the bottom of the Black Sea. He’s very modest about it.”
Some of the set pieces in The Expendables 3 were breathtaking but Statham, a man famed for doing his own high-risk stunts, they will never live up to one hair-raising day filming another movie.
He said: “One that sticks in my memory would be a fist fight outside a helicopter, standing on the skids, on a movie called Crank.
“That was quite adrenaline fuelled. It was quite a scary moment.
“We were at the top of a tall building. When you leave the ground you can adjust and get used to it. Where we took off from the building, it was already 2,000 feet in the air.
“It was a scary sort of rush. I’m not going to forget that day.”
The Expendables franchise is famed for its impressive cast of huge action stars and this one is no different.
The cast includes – among others - Harrison Ford, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonia Banderas, Jet Li, Kelsey Grammar, Randy Couture and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Stallone said: “Everyone has a very, very healthy ego.
“There are some very good actors and everyone wants to be competitive. Nobody wants to be the one sitting there looking like a piece of chewed string at the end of the scene.”
He added: “Working with Harrison Ford, he’s minimalist.
“I’m thinking ‘oh god, I’m eating him up on screen’ then I see the dailies (raw footage) and I think ‘you were just swallowed Stallone.’ He’s very, very good.”
Recruiting some cast members was easier than others, Stallone recalled.
While he enlisted Antonio Banderas at a chance encounter in a car park, others took hours on the phone.
One of the surprising names for this movie is Mel Gibson, in his first real blockbuster role since his career went into meltdown around 2006.
Stallone said: “I wanted Mel to direct, but Mel is such a great director that everything he does is so personal that is has to come from him.
“He goes ‘I wouldn’t mind playing the villain’. Sold.”
It is also a comeback for Wesley Snipes, who starred with Stallone in Demolition Man, but was only released from prison last year after serving three years for tax evasion.
“I’ve been waiting to work with you ever since (Demolition Man). You were busy, I was...busy,” Snipes joked at the press conference.
As for Jason Statham, he recalls his casting a little differently.
He said: “I remember we sat down for lunch together and (Stallone) said ‘do you want to come and work’. I said ‘what’s the role?’ and he said ‘I need someone to make my sandwiches, my chef’s gone’.”
The Expendables 3 is out Thursday, August 14.