Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Tool (Mickey Rourke) has a scene regarding a woman he could have saved in Bosnia, and the personal cost of not doing so. He laments that if he saved her, he could have saved what remained of his soul. His story inspires Barney Ross (Stallone) to go back to Vilena. It's probably the most powerful moment of the film.
The sequel has the scene where Billy the Kid tells the story of losing several of his comrades during a firefight in Afghanistan, then returning to base to discover that a stray dog he'd adopted had been shot due to the base commander deciding to disallow animals on base. Billy's funeral also counts, with Barney reading the letter Billy had written to his girlfriend, then asking aloud why so many people who deserve to live get killed, while people who deserve to die survive repeatedly.
Then followed by this quip: "What's his problem?" "He wants to be president". This is a clear reference on Schwarzenegger's political career and the old buzz about him running for president.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are regarded as the best in their field; two musclebound action heroes and leading men who seem to be stuck in a friendly rivalry with each other; it's a mystery to everyone why they don't just work together. That's just their characters in the movie of course. In the real world that was only true in the eighties.
'Stone Cold' Steve Austin has his climactic fight showing nothing but wrestling moves, fighting mixed martial artist and Greco-Roman wrestler Randy Couture.
In the sequel Gunnar shows that he is a chemistry engineer. Dolph Lundgren actually is one.
Booker's nickname is Lone Wolf, a play on his film Lone Wolf McQuade. His name itself is a reference to Good Guys Wear Black. He also mentions he was once bitten by a king cobra, and after 5 painful days, the cobra died, a reference to one of the many Chuck Norris Facts.
While the car chase with Stallone driving a classic yet modified vehicle is similar to the one in Cobra.
Jet Li gets to do his specialty One-Man Army routine in the sequel armed initially with his fists, then with two frying pans; while Jean-Claude Van Damme gets to do his specialty jumping roundhouse kicks twice against Stallone.
When Caesar is ordered to lend Trench his weapon in the sequel, he tells Trench that if he doesn't get his gun back he'll terminate his ass.
During the credits, Trench is shown with the left half of his face in shadow, with a bright flash where his left eye is.
The Brazilian dub takes the allusion up a notch, Trench's answer is switched from "Not even in your dreams" to "Not even in the future."
The sequel has Trench announcing "I'm back!". Cue briefly the Terminator's leitmotif.
When Barney says "Rest in pieces!" in the sequel. Dolph Lundgren said something similar in Dark Angel.
When Billy runs straight up the mountainside in the sequel the whole team looks on in awe, with Gunnar in particular being impressed. Lee asks Barney if he could remember when he could do that and Barney says he can't. Sylvester Stallone's most famous character has a penchant for running triumphantly up tall inclines and in one instance ran up a mountain as preparation for kicking Dolph Lundgren's ass.
Actor-Shared Background: We learn Gunnar has a degree in chemical enginering, which Dolph Lundgren also has. Almost all of Gunnar's backstory (Swedish, Fulbright Scholarship to MIT, leaving to become a bouncer, having a relationship with a celebrity he met as a bouncer) is taken from Lundgren's actual life.
Advertised Extra: Commercials for the first film paid special attention to the scene between Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger, as it was the first time the trio had appeared on-screen together. Of course, that's the only scene that Willis and Schwarzenegger appear in.
All-Star Cast: The whole point of the film, though most of the "stars" are past their glory days.
Explicitly done by Stallone according to the other wiki. But not so much focused on the all-star part so much as the glory part. That is...
On his approach to casting, Stallone explained that he was looking particularly for actors who had not experienced recent significant success in film, saying: "I like using people that had a moment and then maybe have fallen on some hard times and give them another shot. So we’re always looking for actors like Michael Biehn and Michael Paré. I like those kinds of guys. Someone did it for me and I like to see if I can do it for them."
Also given a nod in the sequel, where the team watched new blood Billy The Kid running full-tilt up a slope and Christmas asks Ross:
"Remember when you could do that?"
The Alleged Car: The planes in the first and second movies. Especially in the second.
Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Lee (loves his knife-throwing a bit too much) and Yang ("I would have win!"). "The Brit" is also a bit of a dick.
Ascended Meme: Chuck Norris' character in general. He shows up and destroys an army by himself. Lampshaded with one of the Chuck Norris Facts (the one about the King Cobra) used as a legend about the character.
Audible Sharpness: Just about every time any blade is drawn or moved slightly through the air, there's always that familiar zzing sound.
Attempted Rape: Averted, and then played straight. It looks like the bad guys are going to do this to Sandra when she gets forcibly thrown down on the table. But then she gets waterboarded instead. Later on, two random soldiers burst in and attempt to rape her, but Ross objects. And his objection is very, very sharp.
Awesome Personnel Carrier: The three armored vehicles used by the team in the beginning of 2. Part truck, part battering ram, rounded off with ironic phrases spray painted on their business ends. ("COMING SOON", "KNOCK KNOCK", "BAD ATTITUDE".) And speaking of '80s references, it's probably not a coincidence that "Bad Attitude" (B.A.) looks like something The A-Team would have built, and is driven by the black member of the team...
Awesome yet Practical: Christmas' entire fighting style. He is showy and theatrical, often aggressively approaching his opponents and whipping out knives in complicated and brutal routines, not to mention the whole church ambush in the second movie. But for all his enjoyment of showboating, he is still extremely lethal.
Barney's "We are the shadow, the smoke in your eyes, the ghosts that hide in the night", which only appears in the trailers, and is the first line in the song "Diamond Eyes" by Shinedown, which was commissioned by Stallone himself. Too bad the song doesn't appear in the film, either (The extended cut fixes both issues, however).
"We will kill this American disease!"
"If you fuck with us in any way... my people will come and get your people."
In the sequel:
"If she returns any different from the way she went, you and your bunch of psychotic mercenary cur will never be seen again in the face of the Earth."
"Are you afraid of me?" "No." "You really should be."
Lee: (to Barney) "It's not easy being your friend."
Yin: (nods) "It's not."
Bang Bang BANG: Happens with all the gunfire, but particularly Caesar's automatic shotgun. He lays out why he loves his automatic shotgun, and it includes that hearing a shotgun spitting out 250 rounds a minute will scare the shit out of the enemy. Sure enough, after he uses it, he comments that the gun is frigging loud.
Bottomless Magazines: Subverted; everyone has run out of ammo for their main weapons, and even Barney's full-auto M1911s need reloading after a few shots, for obvious reasons.
Barney's 1911s are not fully-automatic. He's simply using a technique (which Stallone apparently practiced for hours on the range) to very rapidly fire the pistols in semi-automatic. The shots of him laying down fire, dumping the magazine, reloading and resuming fire is not sped up - that's just how fast you can fire a 1911 with sufficient skill. (Also a testament to how tough the 1911 is.)
Also in the sequel, the abandoned military "simulation town" is clearly a Hollywood studio backlot, most likely that of Warner Bros.
Call Back: A good portion of the sequel features dialogue specifically referencing moments in the first film, including: a direct reference to Vilena, Yang and Gunnar "I would have winned" exchange, Gunnar referring to people as "insect", and Caesar's famous AA-12 shows up in the first scene.
Gunnar: Did you win?
Yang: Of course I win.
Ross, like Tool before him, is given a chance to save women. Unlike Tool, he takes the opportunity.
How do you make an armored guard tower explode? Fire a few miniature warheads at it.
His shaving knife is also used to save Ross from being shot in the back near the end of the finale.
Gunnar giving Christmas his bowie knife. Christmas later gives it to Munroe.
Ross and Lee's Quickdraw contest at the beginning.
Played straight and averted with Sandra's drawings - they look almost intended to be tattoos, but nobody let Tool have a look at 'em. At the same time, the General is shown to share his daughter's appreciation for art, and designs his soldiers' warpaint at the end.
Caesar describing the psychological effect of the sound of guns. He mentions that shotguns in particular scare the shit out of people. Later, when a couple of the team are pinned down...
Hale: Remember this shit at Christmas!
Gunner's degree in Chemical Engineering has been brought up early in the sequel. So when they get stuck inside a caved-in mineshaft, he uses his knowledge to concoct an explosive to blow up an escape route. Then it went pfft, and the crew gets rescued by Trench instead....
Cigar Chomper: In part 2 both Ross and Trench are frequently seen with a cigar.
Classically-Trained Extra: Not in the usual sense. General Garza's two bodyguards, who look mind-boggingly similar to one another? Twin MMA fighters Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who currently compete in the UFC alongside Randy Couture. Sadly, they're not seen in any hand-to-hand combat.
Cluster F-Bomb - Church really likes swearing. Even when he's in a church.
Combat Breakdown: Played straight and then inverted in the final fight between Barney and Vilain in the second movie. They start out trading bullets, but then decide to put their guns away after Vilain runs out of bullets, and Vilain even throws away the knife he took from Barney so they can fight bare-handed. But as the fight progresses, Vilain gets desperate enough that he actually snatches the knife back up to defend himself, and Barney counters by grabbing a heavy chain and using it as a weapon.
Cool Sword: The General brandishes one when he finally stands up to Monroe. In the spirit of authority figures who demand respect at the point of a naked blade. Don't bring a knife to a swordfight, boyo.
Combat Pragmatist: All of the Expendables display a realistic disregard for the Marquis of Queensbury rules, making liberal use of Groin Attack, drawing pistols during protracted CQC bouts and teaming up on outnumbered foes.
Conspicuous CG: Garza's palace collapsing. The explosions before that, however...
Paine on fire. The compositing is painfully obvious.
The blood as well. And potentially even the blade on Gunnar's knife looks to have been at least touched up, if not wholly fabricated.
Covers Always Lie: Tool? Suited up and ready to roll out with the team? Riiiiight. The bad photoshopping should have tipped you off there. Some posters even add Steve Austin and Bruce Willis to the lineup, but that's a lesser case. One should note that Tool and Church (Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis, respectively) aren't in combat-appropriate uniforms. The sequel had Jet Li appear like they always do, but he's Put on a Bus at the end of the intro.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Christmas against Lacy's abusive boyfriend and his basketball team. Guess who walks out without a scratch?
Demoted to Extra: In order to accommodate the larger roles of Willis and Schwarzenegger, and the additional roles for Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Nan Yu, and Liam Hemsworth, a lot of the returning Expendables got the shaft. In particular, Yin Yang vanishes after the first ten minutes and Toll Road barely has any lines in the entire film. Yang made up for it by giving us Jet Li's specialty before he left: a One-Man ArmyGood Old Fisticuffs beatdown for a good five minutes.
Arguable for Jet Li, as The Other Wiki reports that scheduling conflicts with another film prevented him from participating in anything more than the first part of the film.
Elite Mooks: General Garza's special forces, identified by their red berets, jungle camouflage, and green-and-yellow facepaint. Notably, they're actually able to force the Expendables to seriously work to kill them, unlike the regular soldiers who they mow down with regularity. Dispensed with in the sequel, absolutely nobody but Vilain and Hector present any challenge to any of the team.
Ross: "Look at these clowns. Hand-picked monkeys."
Garza turns on Munroe because of this, and the fact Munroe isn't keeping his promises.
Munroe alludes to it, saying that he was raised not to hit a woman...but he employs people who don't have "that moral dilemma."
In the Extended Director's Cut it's mentioned that, even though the Expendables are mercenaries, they do abide by a simple code: "The target has to deserve it."
Evil Brit: Err... the Brit. Also, Hector in the sequel. He's not specifically noted as such, but he speaks with a British accent and the actor playing him is British.
Evil Counterpart: Towards the end of the first movie Monroe berates Ross for doing the CIA's dirty business and says they are basically the same, mercenaries who are dead inside and have no allegiances. Unfortunately for him Ross' character arc in the movie was doing something good not simply for money. In the sequel, Vilain seems to think of him and his men to be this, and gives the team a speech about it. In fact, it's the reason he doesn't kill them when he has the chance.
Evil Is Hammy: Eric Roberts as Munroe is a pretty triumphant example.
The "Somali" pirates that don't even look remotely Somali.
The "Albanians" in the sequel are actually Bulgarian, and Vilain and his crew... aren't Russian, for obvious reasons.
Finger Gun: Exaggerated in one scene of the sequel, when Barney treats his Finger Gun as if it were actually his revolver, complete with cocking the 'hammer'; subverted when all the baddies he 'fires' it at fall over dead as though he actually shot them; then double subverted when it turns out all the bullets were actually fired by Friendly Sniper Billy the Kid.
Fragile Speedster - If this was a World of Warcraft party, Yang would be the striker. In his fight with Gunnar he was faster and more agile but Gunnar was a Mighty Glacier who kept on taking his hits. The sequel puts him in Lightning Bruiser territory when he takes out a roomful of mooks bare-handed without taking a single scratch.
Friendly Enemy: Ross and Trench to each other. By the second film they have clearly come to respect, if not actually like each other.
From Bad to Worse: In The Expendables 2 the heroes get pinned down during a firefight, and Barney mentions that the only way they could win is if they have a tank. The bad guys then roll out a tank.
The Generalissimo: The Expendables' mission is to eliminate one such general. He is slightly more sympathetic than the usual examples.
Genius Bruiser: Toll Road is implied to be fairly well read, when the crew is heading back after their Opening Gambit doing something, most are maintaining their weapons or flying the plane while he is studiously reading a book. This occurs in both films, in fact.
Groin Attack: Yang's fighting scenes will include several kicks to the balls. Used multiple times when Ross and Christmas take on a truckload of bad guys in the field. In the sequel, Maggie makes use of a groin kick during the team's ambush of the Sangs in the village.
Gross-Up Close-Up: The long focus on Tool's face during gives the audience a lovely view of his spit-moistened lips.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Munroe calls Garza's men out on this, for letting Ross and Lee into the country. Special mentions go to the idiot tasked with guarding Munroe and the General. He lets Gunnar walk in with a shotgun (!) because "He wouldn't let me take it from him."
Actually that guard may be the brightest guy there. Gunnar is so huge he makes the compact Serbu Super-Shorty 12 Gauge look like a handgun and he's clearly out of his mind. Who wants to tell the Ax-Crazy Viking he can't bring his shotgun if he wants?
Also subverted. Munroe is sure that mercs were sent by the Agency after him. Ross responds by saying that he just came for the girl.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Gunnar is particularly indecisive version of this. First, he's kicked off the team for being psychotic, is promptly hired by Munroe to kill Barney, and nearly impales Yang. During the chase scene, he also seems to be trying to run down his allied mooks and also kills his overseer. Then he gets shot by Barney, and... is back on the team, having been forgiven. It's suggested he's been known to have problems with drugs and so long as he stays sober they trust him.
Hopeless Suitor: Gunnar clearly has a huge crush on Maggie, but he is just too awkward and drunk around her to make any sort of sense.
Hollywood Density: The plutonium in the second film is handled easily; one man was shown to casually carry three rather large "bars" in his hands in one scene. In reality these bars are sealed storage containers, and are usually made from thick lead-lined steel, weighing no less than 20 kilo each.
What actually makes them lighter than plutonium bars, because plutonium is one and half density of lead.
Even worse, it looks like there's just about 200 cylinders with the plutonium. So each cylinder should contain around 25kg of plutonium and the critical mass of plutonium is around 10kg for a perfect sphere. So these cylinders would be very close to it. And then the villains stack them in a regular hexagonal grid. Can you say "criticality accident"?
Homage: The movie is intended to be an homage to seventies and eighties action films, invoked with a thin story, ludicrous action and exploitative violence.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The bad guys. Sometimes realistically, sometimes not. The climax of the first film does show this fairly realistically, as the Expendables open up by destroying the entire palace, and in the ensuing chaos they charge out and are constantly maneuvering and blowing up vehicles and setting things on fire, using speed, mobility, firepower, deadly accuracy, and intimidation to keep Garza's soldiers off-balance. In the sequel, the badguys are largely an army of poorly-trained East European militia and gangsters who aren't terribly accurate at best, and are getting mowed down constantly, often before being able to return fire. Also played somewhat for comedy when the group encounter a village where the menfolk had been taken away and the only ones left to defend the place was a handful of untrained civilian women who starts shooting on them. Christmas even jokes that the safest place to be is right in front of their guns.
Munroe displays impressive ability with his pistol. While restraining Sandra with one arm he manages to shoot Garze twice in the back and kill three of his guards before any of them got a chance to retaliate. These were elite soldiers wielding automatics under orders to fire on him immediately if he attempts betrayal. He was lucky of course; none of them started aiming at him until the camera pointed at them.
Ross shoots a mook almost directly behind Christmas. Christmas isn't quite as confident in his ally's aiming skills.
Occasionally averted, the most notable being near the end when Ross clearly fires many, many pistol shots before taking down just one soldier in a group of many.
Ross's skills detonate the primer on a thrown artillery round, in such a way that it actually destroys the intended target.
Billy the Kid was able to fall six guards surrounding Barney and Lee with his sniper rifle within about 2 seconds. He apologized for the delay. Later, he was head-shotting mooks cruising by on boats.
A more subtle one toward the end of the second movie when Church, Trench, and Barney open up on the Sangs. They unload at full-auto on the massed Sangs, and not one nearby civilian is hit. Every bullet hits a Sang.
Improvised Weapon: When he runs out of bullets Yang does work with some frying pans. In the sequel Christmas makes use of a thurible(!) while disguised as a Catholic priest. Not to mention Ross and Caesar's use of an artillery shell as a hand thrown weapon...
Invincible Hero: The Expendables are infallible, indestructible ubermensch. They are not, however, Boring.
Not so invincible in the second movie, where due to heavy fog, the Sangs are able to get the drop on them and take Billy the Kid hostage. The scene ends as a total failure for them, with the prized item lost and Billy dead.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Church is not a nice guy and he and Barney do not like each other. Still, when Billy is killed he offers sympathy to Barney and decides to give him more support. He also specifically told Ross to make sure no harm comes to Maggie. It appears that he's usually only concerned about fellow CIA agents.
Jump Cut: Every fight scene is saturated with these. A shot will rarely be held for over three seconds, and tracking shots use Jitter Cam.
They cut down on it somewhat in the sequel, and dispensed with Jitter Cam altogether, reportedly due to the fan complaints.
Lee Christmas prefers to fight with his knives and will sometimes use a throwing knife instead of a pistol. Lampshaded by Gunnar, who carries a huge bowie knife himself, and later hands it to Christmas. Ironically, Statham's breakout role in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels had his character get very creeped out by a Knife Nut.
Tool as well, with whom Christmas has throwing knife competitions.
Lighter and Softer: There were rumors and even an official statement saying they were making the sequel PG-13. Probably due to the fandom backlash they ultimately went back on that idea and the movie is rated R like the original. It's been also said that the PG-13 was due to the removal of so much swearing in the script, a condition made by Chuck Norris before he'd join in. The final movie does have virtually no cursing, a contrast to the occasional Cluster F Bombs from the first.
More like 300, but low-balled at 250+ in Hale's heartwarming speech about his beloved Omaya Kaboom.
Ludicrous Gibs: Averted. Mooks are mutilated, blown apart and cut through like wet tissue paper, yet there is little blood in the wake of any firefight and their viscera seems to be composed of boneless Kool-aid.
Made of Iron: None of the protagonists suffer meaningful injuries for the duration of the films. Gunnar gets shot just above the heart and is hale and hearty by his next scene.
James Munroe could well be a reference to James Monroe, the U.S. president most known for formulating the "Monroe Doctrine", which served as a justification for U.S. meddling in Latin American affairs.
Barney Ross was the name of an American boxer from the 1930s. His name could be a reference to the fact that one of Sylvester Stallone's best known characters is a boxer.
The name of the sequel's villain is... Vilain.
Considering the reference to sheep, and the fact that the name might allude to a "farm hand" could put this in Punny Name territory for vocabulary geeks.
Mood Whiplash: Lamshaded and used in-universe. Maggie notes how the team bounces between light-hearted humor and dark nihilism concerning themselves. Barney notes that at this point they just try to keep things light for as long as they can, but they get pitch black dark when it's time to get serious.
More Dakka: About 60% of the film is pure dakka. Hale's AA-12 makes up 59.9% percent of that dakka.
In the sequel, one scene stands out. After one battle, there's a single mook remaining. When he pops out, one of the Expendables shouts a warning, and all of them immediately and hilariously turn and fill him with about 200 rounds.
Noodle Incident: The Expendables talk between themselves about previous adventures in well-known hot spots of the Eighties and Nineties. Subverted in the case of Mickey Rouke's character - he describes a woman he could have saved in Bosnia. In the sequel, Billy the Kid talks about his prior tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Mauser and Ross seem to hate each other due to a Noodle Incident, judging from their exchange in front of Church in the first movie.
The Not-Love Interest: Sandra to Ross. There seems to be some chemistry, but nothing ever comes of it - his primary reason for saving her is that she's a resistance leader.
In the sequel, Maggie and Ross have even more chemistry than Sandra and Ross did. But Ross refuses to become involved with her because so many people who have gotten close to him have died.
Not So Different: Munroe attempts to make Ross believe that they are both mercenaries who are "dead inside."
Obviously Evil: Van Damme's character in the sequel's last name is "Vilain", which is basically the word "villain" with a Francophone accent. He is in fact a villain with a Francophone accent. Even Ross seems shocked at the idea. As if it weren't enough, Vilain used a satanic pentagram with goat horns as his gang's symbol!
Offscreen Teleportation: Played to the hilt from the very first scene. When Gunnar attempts to lynch the pirate for the lulz, Yang suddenly appears next to him after silently traversing his way between the cargo hold fifty feet below to the deck of the ship in under three seconds and engages him in a short CQC fight. Seconds later when Yang is at Gunnar's mercy, Barney follows suit, making the same trip just as silently and almost as quickly.
The use of Jump Cut in every fight scene means that the protagonists appear to fight like Nightcrawler.
Punny Name: Toll Road, Hale Caesar, Yin Yang. In the sequel, the villain's name is... Vilain.
Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Vilain manages to get the drop on Barney and his crew in the sequel, and after a lengthy standoff, Barney agrees to drop their weapons and hand over the device. Vilain then expresses his respect for Barney and leads his men away. Then he kills Billy as an afterthought to remind Barney that "respect must be earned."
Put on a Bus: Yin who is present only for the opening mission of the sequel. He air drops out of the cargo plane with the rescued hostage after the mission and is never seen for the rest of the film. When asked when he'll be back, he replies "Maybe soon...maybe never. Maybe start a new life."
Red Right Hand: Vilain and his Dragon both have big neck pentacle tattoos with a goat (which, as Vilain helpfully reminds us, is Satan's pet).
Red Shirt: The interviews and promotional material of the second film made it clear that the plot would revolve around the team avenging the death of, "one of their own." Looking at the cast, it was the guys from the first film and Thor's little brother. No points for guessing who gets the axe.
Stallone's character uses a single-action revolver which he fires in bursts by fanning the hammer. Badass? Yes. Homage to classic Westerns? Probably. Utterly illogical? Who gives a fuck?!
Fanning is something a trained shooter could do. Taking down several targets in the process? Not so much.
Ross and Caesar blow up a chopper by throwing a shell and then setting it off in midair. By shooting at it. Wait, aren't those things, like, built to make sure stuff like that doesn't happen? Fuck that! Who needs physics when you've got HSQ?
Shoot the Dog: Barney to Gunnar. In the sequel, Billy talks about his time in the military, specifically an event where his base commander literally shoots the dog. This was part of what lead to his being disillusioned with the military and ultimately joining the Expendables.
Short Range Shotgun: Awesomely averted with the AA-12. Helps it's loaded with frag rounds meant to go farther than usual.
Shout-Out: The mercenaries posing as ornithologists for their recon is likely a reference to the film of The Dogs of War.
Sinister Shades: In part 2, Vilain spends pretty much the entire movie wearing sunglasses, even when underground in a mine. He only takes them off when he's preparing to face Ross in a hand to hand combat fight to the death.
Smug Snake: Eric Roberts is, shall we say, not straying far from his comfort zone here.
Stealth Expert: All the Expendables, as seen in the first and final fight, despite Barney running around with a high beam torch waving all over the place. Averted by Toll in the final fight, who just beats the shit out of all the guys he runs into.
A memorable moment in the sequel has the team finishing off a platoon of mooks and while standing together Barney calls out "One more!" and the entire team empties their collective arsenal into a solitary gunman.
Throw Away Guns: Sometimes to ditch extra weight, sometimes out of necessity. Special mention goes to Yang in the sequel, who throws his gun at a mook to knock them out before grabbing the frying pans.
Title Drop: Averted. While the name "Expendables" appears on weapons and motorcycle decals, the name of the group is never actually spoken. Some countries call the film The Mercenaries, and that term shows up a lot.
Token Romance: Averted. Nothing between Stallone and Sandra, which is nice considering how tempting it must have been. And while Statham also has a Love Interest, most of their interactions concern the fact that she dislikes his lifestyle.
Similarly averted in the sequel. It hints that Maggie has a crush on Barney and they have a verbally affectionate parting by the end, but nothing more.
Too Stupid To Live: The leader of the pirates. Seriously? You have a group of elite badasses who have all of their Laser Sights directly on you, they have just tossed down a bag of money to peacefully let the hostages go. And you have the audacity and stupidity to ask for more money?
Torture Always Works: Subverted. Sandra is waterboarded for information on the Expendables but does not give in. Instead, Monroe needs to get his information from Gunnar. Played straight in the sequel, with Maggie and her set of surgical instruments.
Trailers Always Spoil: Gunnar is clearly seen lifting Ying over his head and over a sharp spike, which makes it obvious from the beginning he betrays the team. They try cheating by making his face blurrier and speeding up the action, but it doesn't work.
True Companions: Plays with it. An early scene implies that the team try to maintain completely professional relationships and nothing else, which is the reason behind their Code Names (Yang suggests he is in it only for the money, claiming he needs more to support his son). The only members who seem to be genuinely close friends are Barney, Lee and Tool. But in spite of that they trust each other with their lives and mid-way through the movie you see them rallying around Barney and his personal mission, the ending scene is everyone having drinks together. Becomes even more clear in the sequel when the entire team hangs out in a bar(even Lacy was there) together during their downtime, then shows again with them all being very visibly upset about Billy's death, with Gunnar even seeming to wipe a tear from his eye.
The Unfair Sex: Averted. Lacey's cheating isn't portrayed sympathetically at all, but Lee does take her back after beating down her abusive boyfriend.
The Unintelligible: Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren and Schwarzenegger are all known for sometimes being rather hard to understand either due to their accent or just kind of growling out their words. Put them together in the same movie and it's even more noticeable.
Unorthodox Reload: Played with - Barney reloads his M1911 normally, he just does it incredibly fast. With enough practice, any experienced shooter can do it, too. Now, doing it while being shot at by fifty men with assault rifles in the open...
Vitriolic Best Buds: Inverted: Barney and Trench hate each other's guts, but talk as if they were old buddies.
Surprisingly, Yang and Gunnar are like this in 2, after having no shortage of real anger at each other in the first film. When Yang departs the group, Gunnar even sounds a little sad when he says, "Who am I going to pick on now?"
Ultimately averted by the end of the movie, finally going in to kick ass because an innocent woman's going to get murdered if Barney doesn't save her.
Initally played straight for the rest of the team, since a $5 million paycheck made goo-goo eyes at them.
And Barney was highly considering not rescuing the girl until he talks to Tool and realizes he'll get to deal with the guilt of not rescuing her for the rest of his life.
Also averted in the sequel. Church accuses Barney of stealing the $5 million and threatens to make them disappear from the face of the earth unless they do another job to make up for it. Later, they decide to chase down Vilain to avenge Billy.
Played straight with Vilain, though, who's only interested in selling the plutonium.
Weaponized Seaplane: with four machine guns hidden in the nosecone, and a fuel dump to ignite and use as a Fuel/Air Explosion. Very very good at spreading out a cushion of air that turns people's innards to jelly.
In the sequel they have a new (though very similar) plane with what appears to basically be a small hand-loaded howitzer in the nose. However, it's not especially accurate given it can only shoot at exactly what the plane is pointed at, so it acts more like a tank cannon.
Wife-Basher Basher: Yes, Lee's girlfriend left him for a violent drunk, but that doesn't mean he isn't going defend her honor by beating the absolute tar out of him and his fellow wife-bashing basketball-buddies in broad daylight for beating her.
Worthy Opponent: Jean Vilain considers Barney one of these. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, that doesn't mean he is nice to Barney, and he kills Billy just to remind Barney that "respect must be earned."