Expendables 4 A Martial Arts Movie? BTS Photo Hints At Franchise Change

Casting and behind-the-scenes images for The Expendables 4 could point to the movie being the franchise's most martial arts-heavy entry yet. Beginning with The Expendables in 2010, the Sylvester Stallone-led franchise is famous for its action star ensemble gimmick, adding more players to the roster with each new installment. Though the series hit a commercial dip with The Expendables 3 due to its ill-advised PG-13 rating, The Expendables 4 could reinvigorate the franchise thanks to some of the new boarding members of the ensemble.

The Expendables 4 will include Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais, with the latter to portray the movie's villain, and both genuine legends of the martial arts genre. An Instagram post by Statham in which he expressed his enthusiasm for working with Uwais also shows Lee Christmas in a fight sequence with Uwais' villain, along with Statham posting on Instagram equal enthusiasm for working with Jaa, too (Jaa and Uwais previously seen in another action star ensemble, 2019's Triple Threat). Jaa also posted an image to Instagram showing himself alongside both Uwais and Dan Chupong, known for his work with Jaa on the Ong Bak movies and other Thai martial arts films like Vengeance of an Assassin.

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While these posts and behind-the-scenes images don't reveal a tremendous amount about The Expendables 4, they could be signaling that the fourth movie in the franchise could be set to place greater emphasis on martial arts battles than the series ever has before. Obviously, The Expendables movies have never skimped on martial arts, and the series has included martial arts stars like Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Ronda Rousey, and Wesley Snipes over the years, along with the returning Statham and Dolph Lundgren. However, being a franchise about mercenaries heading into war zones and hostage situations with heavy gunfire, The Expendables has also been cogent about when and where to ditch the guns and go hand-to-hand.

Jet Li's presence in The Expendables series as Yin Yang also became progressively lessened, scheduling conflicts on The Expendables 2 explaining his early departure there, and Li also then-experiencing health issues as the series went on. Furthermore, while martial arts fights have always been a component of the series, this visibly peaked in The Expendables 2 and wasn't as big of an element in The Expendables 3. Jaa, Uwais, and Chupong might foretell a changing tide for how extensively The Expendables 4 might utilize martial arts as an aspect of its action sequences.

Statham also seems to be taking on more of a leadership role in The Expendables 4, Stallone stating his retirement from the series as Expendables leader Barney Ross, and saying that he is "ready to pass the baton on to Jason". Though Statham's had his share of fist and knife fights throughout the franchise, pitting Lee Christmas against Uwais of The Raid movies is something The Expendables 4 is bound to emphasize in its marketing when the time comes.

Though martial arts fights have been anything but absent from The Expendables movies, the specific casting of Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa, and Dan Chupong alludes to a more pronounced emphasis on it in The Expendables 4. Behind-the-scenes photos and social media posts from Statham and Jaa also point to the return of The Expendables franchise as heading in that direction. When The Expendables 4 hits theaters in 2022, it could be an especially exhilarating ride for martial arts fans most of all.

NEXT: Why Expendables 4 Already Has The Perfect Gimmick To Reinvent It

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