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Expendables 3 (4K Ultra HD), The

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // March 1, 2016 // Region 0
List Price: $22.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted March 10, 2016 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

For their first wave of 4K Ultra HD discs, Lionsgate has released four films including The Expendables 3 that hit theaters a couple of years ago. It's decent choice... it has some marquee value and should sell well since there are only a handful or titles available in the format now, but I'm not sure I'd make the same decision. If you look closely at the cover to The Expendables 3, you can tell that the movie is going to have a few problems. The impressive lineup of stars appearing in the film has obviously been Photoshopped together to make the image. Kelsey Grammer's head is too small in relation to those around him, everyone is smiling except Terry Crews who is screaming while holding a large machine gun, and Ronda Rousey is the only one looking away from the camera. If the creators couldn't get the stars together for a single photoshoot, how are they going to be able to showcase them all in the movie? The answer is: they can't. This third installment in the franchise has just a few too many stars for its own good, meaning that most of them don't get much screen time. Still, the movie is not a total loss, and if you like your action flicks loud and over-the-top, this one is still worth checking out.

The film starts off with a bang from the start as the remnants of The Expendables, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundren), and Toll Road (Randy Couture) pull off a bravura rescue of their old teammate Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes). Then one of the strengths of the movie becomes apparent: There's no plot to get in the way of the story (to borrow an expression from famed drive-in movie reviewer Joe Bob Briggs).

While flying away from the introductory prison break, Ross states that they have another job and fly off to a country in Africa. There they meet up with Caesar (Terry Crews) and try to stop an arms deal when things go bad. It turns out that the person who is selling the weapons is none other than Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a man Ross thought he had killed years ago, and he has all of the skills the Expendables are famed for, and more. Seriously wounding Caesar (who is out for the rest of the movie) the team is left in shambles. Declaring that they're too old for this (the first of many times in the film) Ross fires the rest of the team and hires some newbies to take out Stonebanks: Smilee (Kellan Lutz), Luna (Ronda Rousey), Thorn (Glen Powell) and Mars (Victor Ortiz). That doesn't go too well either, so Ross teams up with the talkative Galgo (Antonio Banderas), along with some other friends to rescue the team of newbies and take out Stonebanks. It all ends with a large team of Expendables literally fighting an army while holed up in an derelict casino/hotel that's wired to explode. Oh yeah, and along the way Harrison Ford, Kelsey Grammer, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all pop up to lend a hand.

There are two types of movie-goers: those who see black uniformed soldiers ride motorcycles into an abandoned multi-story casino at full speed and think "why would you do that... it's stupid" and those who think "COOL!" If you're in the former camp, you should probably give this movie a pass. If you're part of the latter group, this is worth considering, but with some caveats. One of the problems that I had with the film is that there are just too many stars, and for some reason they added a new crew of new actors too. To accommodate all of these people, Terry Crews had to sit out most of the film and Jet Li is only in a couple of scenes. It also means that they don't have any time to develop the new characters at all, which is too bad since viewers don't really care if they live or die.

Having said that, some of the actors really got into their roles and that made the movie more fun than it would have been otherwise. Mel Gibson seems to be having a blast chewing the scenery and Antonio Banderas is great as the constantly talking mercenary with a troubled past. Of the new crew, they all came across as bland with the exception of Ronda Rousey who really stands out. Not for her acting (though her exacerbated exclamation of "Men!" that she says a couple of times is the one bit of humor that works in the movie) but for her martial skills. Everyone can act like they can fight, but Rousey actually can. She reminded me of Bruce Lee playing Kato in the old TV show The Green Hornet. Like Lee, her movements were fluid, ingrained, and natural. While the others were trying to remember where to step and when to punch (and the very quick cutting through the fight scenes made it feel like some were having trouble getting more than two seconds worth of moves right at a time), Rousey made it look like she was actually fighting.

The Ultra HD Disc:

This UHD set includes the theatrical version of the film on a 4K disc and a Blu-ray which houses the theatrical and unrated versions of the movie along with all of the extras. The Blu-ray seems to be identical with the earlier released BR of this movie.


The 2160p, HDR image comes with the original 2.40:1 aspect ratio and looks amazing overall. I've seen my share of streaming 4K video, but this is my first Ultra HD disc and I was very happy with the results. The level of detail is excellent with the finest lines being well defined. The colors are natural and not exaggerated and the blacks are awesome. The only real flaw I could see, and one that frankly astonished me, was some banding in the sky in one scene (at the end of the battle in Africa where they first see Stonebanks. Instead of the sky smoothly transitioning from one shade to the next, there is a stair step effect. It's something that cropped up on DVD fairly regularly and somewhat on Blu-ray, but I was disappointed and surprised to see it on a 4K disc.


The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was very solid and will please fans of the movie. While I unfortunately do one have a full Atmos setup which includes seven standard channels and a subwoofer as well as an additional four ceiling speakers, the disc sounded great on my 5.1 setup. The dialog was clear (though it could be hard to understand Stallone sometimes when he grumbled under his breath, that's not a fault of the audio mix) and the soundtrack was well balanced. There was a good amount of impact during the frequent battle sequences, but not quite as much as I was expecting. All in all, it was a very good sounding disc.


The extras are all on the Blu-ray disc and therefore none of them are in Ultra HD. They are the same ones found on the earlier BR release. They include a nearly hour-long behind the scenes The Expendables 3 Documentary, New Blood: Stacked and Jacked, a 16-minute featurette that looks at the new group of Expendables shown in the movie, and an single extended scene. There's also a short featurette about the stunts, Total Action Package, and a five-minute gag-reel.

Final Thoughts:

This movie is flawed and the weakest in the Expendables franchise, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a certain amount of over-the-top charm and more action than I thought was possible to pour into a two-hour film. If you're looking for a mindless evening of fun, you could do worse. Recommended.

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