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"Expendables 3" Fares well amidst piracy and negative reviews

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"The Expendables 2" grossed about $500 million in its worldwide release in 2012. Considering its overwhelming success and a horde of anticipating fans, it's not a surprise that it would inevitably spawn a sequel. "The Expendables 3" expanded the franchise, hitting theaters in August 2014. However, according to the box-office authority Box Office Mojo, it did not fare as well as its predecessors. The first "Expendables" movie grossed $13 million on its first opening day, and the second earned slightly less at $10 million. The latest film only managed to bring in $5.7 million when it opened in U.S. theaters nationwide.

It may seem like a poor performance for such a movie that brings back Hollywood legends such as Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes in one explosive movie. However, representatives from "The Expendable 3" blame it on the leaked DVD-quality version of the movie that appeared three weeks ahead of its premiere. It was downloaded 189,000 times after its leak. The video file uploaded via piracy sites reached 2 million downloads in a week. Lionsgate, the exclusive distributor of the movie, was even moved to take action against the operators of the piracy sites.

While only time can show the full impact of the leaked version of the movie's financial performance, critics are always eager to publish their reviews. While the second movie rated at 65 percent at Rotten Tomatoes, the third movie didn't seem to please critics and reviewers, receiving generally negative reviews and an almost failing grade of 35 percent. The consensus on the aggregator site hinted that while "The Expendables 3" delivers the usual classic action that its fans love, it greatly underused the talents of its larger ensemble. Many film critics agree that Sylvester Stallone's latest movie could have been more fun.

Despite the negative reviews, "The Expendables 3" is easily the best in the bunch. Stallone kept his promise to give the directorial chair to someone more adept in this installment. Ultimately, he happily gave it to Patrick Hughes, an Australian film director known for the 2010 thriller film "Red Hill." Hughes is definitely among the young blood in the production crew, providing a fresh perspective for directing. His short films caught the attention of Stallone, and in April 2013, Stallone confirmed Hughes as the next director of the third installment via Twitter.

In the first two installments, Jason Statham is the young one in the midst of old, muscular men, including Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Jet Li, Terry Crews and Randy Couture. In "The Expendables 3," aside from the young director Hughes, younger cast members join in. In the movie, the Expendables team suffers a great loss, forcing Barney Ross to hire many young bloods. Additionally, Harrison Ford replaces Bruce Willis as the new assignment giver. Mel Gibson portrays a nasty arms dealer who turns out to be more than what he seems to show.

Another rewarding addition is 52-year-old Wesley Snipes, who still moves fluidly and looks good while doing the stuff he does best: action scenes. Another pleasant surprise is the appearance of 27-year-old Ronda Rousey, the "Mean Girl" and an unbeatable villain in the MMA. It's interesting to know that Rousey's scenes in the movie were filmed while she was defending her Bantamweight Championship title at UFC 168. Stallone shows a clear interest in athletes, as Victor Ortiz also becomes part of the team as a lethal soldier and sharpshooter who is also afraid of heights. Glenn Powell, Robert Davi and Kellan Lutz also joined the cast of the movie.

The Expendables franchise has earned a reputation of assembling aging 80s action stars and having them take on each other in fistfights amid massive explosions. The fight scenes are reminiscent of the old days, embracing ridiculous violence, numerous explosions, vulnerable women who need to be rescued and an old-school machismo that most contemporary action films lack. It stays true to its original goal, which is to unite once-great action heroes who often make fun of their own age and physical limitations. Stallone makes sure to even out the wanton death toll with a random tug to the heartstrings, citing that men like them are not the future anymore.

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