The Expendables 4 (also known as Expend4bles) is set to come out soon. After a PG-13-rated third installment, they will return to their R-rated roots with hard-hitting action and big set pieces.
ClutchPoints was able to speak to Expendables 4's stunt coordinator, Alan Ng, over email. As the cliché goes, it's who you know, not what you know.
That's how Ng landed the Expendables gig.
“I worked with Scott Waugh [the Expendables 4 director], the director [of] Jackie [Chan] and John Cena's Hidden Strike,” Ng said of Expendables 4. “We worked very well together so when Scott was brought onto Expend4bles, we both wanted to work together again for this.”
While John Cena has done action in the past, Hidden Strike teamed him with a master like Chan. Ng found it very easy to work with him, especially given his teachability.
“John is such [a] great guy,” Ng said. “He's a very hard worker, he's so dedicated to training and learning new things and he treats everyone with respect. I have nothing but good things to say about John.”
Dating back many years, Ng has been a frequent collaborator and friend of Jackie Chan's — who stars in Expendables 4. He called it a “dream come true” to be able to work and learn from Chan.
“I met Jackie when I was [a] young boy as my dad was also a stuntman,” Ng revealed. “He fought Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, so Jackie has seen me grow up.”
However, he added, “I was in the stunt industry for over 10 years before I became a member of the Jackie Chan stunt team. Jackie has been a mentor to me in stunts, life, and becoming a better person. Being a part of Jackie's stunt team is like being in a big family.”
The best piece of advice given by Chan? Ng revealed that Chan told him, “It's okay to fail, but failure is not trying. Don't be afraid to fail.”
Further than his connection to the director, Ng's past work played a part in the work he did in the fourth Expendables film. He named The Karate Kid (2010) and The Forbidden Kingdom as two films that prepped him for the hand-to-hand combat in Expendables 4, and Golden Job and Hidden Strike as the two films that prepped him for the firearms sequences in the film.
And in Expendables 4, Ng collaborated with even more action legends. Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and more star in the film.
“Yes, it was very easy,” Ng said of the action stars making his job easier. “As they are all legendary [action stars], we were able to watch back their previous work so we could incorporate a lot of their signature moves.”
When working on an action film, one concern could be the stars landing on their hits. This was something that the Bottoms stunt coordinator told me last month. Granted, the circumstances are very different. Bottoms is about high schoolers who have never fought. The Expendables is a highly stylized series that leans on its stars and their experience in the genre.
Alan Ng didn't find real punches or kicks landing to be a problem.
“To be honest, that wasn't really a concern for me,” he said. “We try our best to prevent it, but we are filming action, so we are aware that accidents do happen.”
One star making their real action movie debut in Expendables 4 is Megan Fox. She was in the Michael Bay Transformers and live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchises, but Expendables 4 provided her the chance to go one-on-one with Statham.
“It was very easy working with them both,” Ng said of working with Statham and Fox. “Jason has so much experience in action; his timing, reaction, and memory for choreography is second to none.”
“Megan was great, she had a very good foundation with her dance background,” he said. “She picked up choreography very fast when we were rehearsing or when we made any changes on set.”
His favorite fight sequence in Expendables 4, though, is the one between Statham and Iko Uwais. He says he's “very happy with how it turned out.”
In Expendables 4, the band is back together to stop a terrorist organization overseen by Suarto Rahmat (Iko Uwais). The nuclear weapons could begin a conflict between the United States and Russia, so it's up to the team to stop it. Franchise lead Stallone continues taking a step back. He co-wrote and directed the first film, and has still remained a co-writer whilst other filmmakers have taken over. Now, Scott Waugh will become the fourth director in as many films for the Expendables franchise as Stallone only acts in the film.
Expendables 4 will be released on September 22.