It should come as no surprise that Sylvester Stallone is worshiped in some quarters in Japan. Many of his movies have but one message: Gambare – never give up. Think of it, Rocky Balboa alone has received and given more ass-kickings than Godzilla, which is a considerable number. If we were to include John Rambo, let alone Deke DaSilva, Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, or his most recent incarnation, Barney Ross, the total would skyrocket. Stallone movies largely consist of the hero getting ferociously thumped and torn asunder until he’s had enough and ups the ante on ferocity, thumping and tearing asunder all foes.
It’s a simple message that translates well here. So when Stallone arrived in Tokyo last weekend – after 22 years away – wide shows celebrated. Watching Stallone work the crowd, you can’t help but wonder what happened to the guy Roger Ebert, notably, and Pauline Kael, surprisingly, compared to Marlon Brando. Well, that was Rocky in 1976 and much has transpired since then. We know now that Stallone is not Brando. He probably knew it then. He’s a smart enough movie man to see he could never make it as a serious leading man. Guys with half-paralyzed faces become typecast as heavies…or they become action movie stars. Stallone made his choice early and a truckload of money since. He has box office mojo — $1.8 billion worth and counting — and if he wants to direct seriously, he probably could. You laugh? Look at the remake of Clint Eastwood from “Every Which Way but Loose” into the current grand artiste of cinema (total box office mojo $1.7 billion). If that doesn’t prove it, then how about Kitano Takeshi’s move from slapstick comic Beat Takeshi to Kitano “I’m big in France” Takeshi? Regardless, Stallone seems interested in continuing to make bloody action films. At least they are more honest than Tarantino’s creations – cheap (in style) rip-offs of bloody action films that he panders as art.
Stallone’s visit, to promote The Expendables, might have even upstaged Hakuho’s fourth straight undefeated sumo tournament, except that Stallone attended the last day. He was accompanied by a tall man who might have been mistaken for his bodyguard, but was, in fact, former MIT grad student and universal solider, Dolph Lundgren.
A photo op with Hakuho was the kind of promotions that sumo needs in Japan. Chiyonofuji, currently the Kokonoe oyakatta, was on hand. Stallone had high praise for the Chiyo saying he was the “real thing” as opposed to just being an actor. (We agree.) He even said that it might be possible to put Chiyo into the sequel of The Expendables. The highlight, however, was Hakuho. Stallone suggested that they do a sumo move. Hakuho complied, lifting Stallone like a child.
— At the movie press conference the fans were the stars:
Clip 1 at 9:25 — “You’re the greatest movie actor, forever.”
Clip 2 at 8:00 — Lundgren talks about Kyokushin karate and having dinner withTsuyoshi Nagabuchi, who did a song for the movie in Japan.
Clip 4 at 4:10 — Stallone admits to Twittering
6:20 — Stallone discusses Arnold Schwarzenegger and jokes that he still wants to be U.S. president.
7:45 — Stallone is willing to engage even the most rabid of fans, including this chap.
Clip 5 at 1:00 — Lundgren stretches for a reference to Kurosawa.
2:30 — Stallone engages another crazed fan, “Let’s have Rambo, he’s working so hard.” The fan prefaces his question about The Expendables sequel with, “Stallone, aishitte imasu.” Stallone answers the guy’s question and gives him some love back.
4:20 — Fan cries, “You the best.” Stallone, “You are too.”
6:45 — A little boxing with Lundgren for the cameras.