The Expendables 3 Stunt That Almost Cost Jason Statham His Life
Getting a new “Expendables” movie means once again playing the game of “let’s see how many action stars can we fit on the poster.” With all those big names competing for screen time amid action giants like Sylvester Stallone and Jet Li, you’re naturally going to have them attempting to recreate the movie moments that made audiences fall in love with them in the first place. (That’s how you get Arnold Schwarzenegger finding any way he can to throw in a variation of “I’ll be back.”) But let’s be real: All three “Expendables” films are fun in their own right, but hardly live up to the movies that garnered these actors a spot on the franchise’s roster.
“The Expendables 3” represented a temporary end to the ensemble showcases of action stars kicking butt on screen: It was the franchise’s lowest-rated entry, acquired the lowest box office results, and unwisely alienated its core audience by aiming for a PG-13-rated film to appeal to younger viewers. But perhaps the biggest obstacle that could have struck this film down is a gnarly accident that nearly killed one of its biggest action stars.
Some amount of risk is practically inescapable when filming big set pieces in action movies, especially if the stunts are done primarily in-camera. Unfortunately, the “Expendables” films are no strangers to set pieces not going the way they anticipated, as stuntman Kun Lieu was killed while shooting a boat explosion for “The Expendables 2.” The rate at which this keeps happening with Hollywood productions is truly disheartening, and had things gone differently on the third movie, “Crank” star Jason Statham may have lost his life.
Mishap with a flatbed truck
While doing a test run for one of the film’s opening action sequences in Bulgaria, Statham was tasked with driving a flatbed truck that was meant to stop, but unfortunately, the brakes decided otherwise, plunging the vehicle and the “Italian Job” actor into the Black Sea. When Statham told this story on Jimmy Fallon, he said it was something close to a 9-10 ft drop off the edge of the pier. Luckily he was able to get himself out through an open window, but the rush of water, the weight of heavy body equipment, and a snagged holster didn’t help matters. The actor told The Evening Standard how the near-death experience made him feel immensely lucky to be alive:
“It’s a real recalibration of everything. From that day on, I’ve been so appreciative of life and being able to walk on the ground. I think we all need [an experience] like that; one that puts things in perspective.”
Statham laughs while telling this story, but it’s incredible how he managed to wrangle himself out of that potentially dire situation. It probably helped matters that not only could he keep his composure and act fast, but Statham was once a former diver who competed for England in the Commonwealth Games in the early ’90s.
What I find even crazier is that there’s footage of it all going down within a featurette from the “Expendables 3” Blu-ray.
You can feel the panic among the entire crew as they slowly realize what’s about to transpire. Even Terry Crews (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) recalls being amazed at how Statham immediately afterwards “changed his clothes and hopped right back in the truck” to keep on going as if he didn’t just almost drown. With Statham looking okay, I have to admit that nothing hurt my heart more than seeing the poor crew fish out all of the now-useless Red cameras from the water.