Sylvester Stallone’s Greatest Action Franchise Is Taking Over On Streaming

Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables is in the top ten most-watched movies on HBO Max.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

sylvester stallone

Thanks to the Rocky and Rambo franchises, Sylvester Stallone became one of the most recognizable faces of 80’s action movies. It only made sense, then, that he would headline The Expendables, a fan-favorite film (FlixPatrol shows it hit the HBO Max top 10 yesterday) about aging badass actors getting together to create the ultimate action movie. That movie spawned three sequels, all of which have been on the HBO Max top 10 this past week, and all of which are definitely worth your time.

If you need a reason to watch these movies, just look at the cast. Aside from the always-awesome Sylvester Stallone, the first Expendables movie features vintage onscreen ass-kickers like Dolph Lundgren (Stallone’s former onscreen rival in the Rocky films), Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, and many more. If that’s not reason enough to watch, subsequent films brought in more big names, including Arnold Schwarzenegger (who had an uncredited cameo in the first movie that later expanded into a proper role), Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mel Gibson, and Wesley Snipes.

One interesting feature of the film franchise’s casting is that actors who turned an opportunity to star in the first film later saw how great it turned out and came back for one of the sequels. For example, Sylvester Stallone tried to get both Jean-Claude Van Damme and his onetime Demolition Man nemesis Wesley Snipes to star in the first movie, but Van Damme declined and Snipes could not take the role due to some tax-related legal drama. Both of them would later pop up in future films and provide some of the standout moments of the entire franchise.

When that first film came out, its reception became a textbook example of the fact that what critics want and what audiences want from a movie are dramatically different. For example, this Sylvester Stallone action opera has a 42 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, but its $34.8 million opening weekend helped the movie become one of the biggest independent releases of all time, blowing competition such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (a movie destined to become a cult classic on home video and streaming) out of the water. And the first film went on to earn a whopping $274.5 million worldwide, showing that the public appetite for these kinds of throwback action movies was very high.

The Expendables 4

After passing on appearing in the third Creed movie, you might think that Sylvester Stallone is content these days to focus on being a big fish on streaming with his surprise role on Tulsa King. However, he hasn’t forgotten the kind of action roles that helped make him famous, nor has he forgotten the action franchise he breathed life into; Stallone is currently hard at work on a fourth Expandables movie, where some of the surviving crew are joined by new actors, including 50 Cent and Megan Fox. That film is currently set to premiere September 22, which means there is no time like the present to binge-watch the first three films on HBO Max so you are all caught up with this killer series of movies.