Every Sylvester Stallone & Dolph Lundgren Movie Ranked Worst To Best
From Balboa and Drago in Rocky to Barney and Gunnar in Expendables, here’s every Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren movie ranked worst to best. Friends in real life and long-time on-screen collaborators, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren have starred in five movies together. From Rocky IV to Creed II, audiences got to see Stallone and Lundgren playing deadly rivals, battlefield friends, and resentful ghosts of who they once were.
Considering how long Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren have been friends, it’s interesting how those five movies belong to two franchises only – Rocky and The Expendables. Recently, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren were placed in the middle of a controversy regarding the future of the Rocky franchise. Stallone had previously publicly criticized producer Irwin Winkler, who Stallone claimed to be withholding the movie rights to Rocky in a now-deleted Instagram post. A few days after Stallone’s post, an Ivan Drago spinoff movie starring Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago and Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago was reported to be in development, with the story picking up from where Creed II had left.
Stallone made harsh comments on the Drago spinoff in a now-deleted Instagram post, labeling the project as a cash grab. Despite the Drago spinoff controversy, it seems Stallone and Lundgren remain friends. Stallone will not return for Creed III, and most likely not for the Drago spinoff either, meaning that Balboa and Drago might not ever meet onscreen again. Still, audiences will get a chance to see more of Stallone and Lundgren in The Expendables 4, which currently does not have a release date. Here’s every Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren movie ranked from worst to best.
The Expendables 3 is not as solid as The Expendables, nor as self-aware as The Expendables 2. That makes it the worse entry in the Expendables franchise, which is reflected by its box office – the lowest for an Expendables movie. The Expendables 3 is bigger than its predecessors in terms of scope and scale, but that is not translated into a more fun movie. Instead, The Expendables 3 displays some common recent action blockbuster movies’ flaws, without the charm of The Expendables and The Expendables 2.
The always-exciting Expendables cast does not feel like they’re having as much fun as they did in the first two, and for a while, it seemed like The Expendables 3 would be the one to end the franchise. For example, Bruce Willis did not return for The Expendables 3, and while it was exciting to have Harrison Ford onboard, the movie does not quite feel like the celebration that was the first two Expendables. The Expendables 4 will therefore have the difficult mission of recapturing the magic of the first two Expendables movies that The Expendables 3 lost.
The Expendables’ entire plot is nothing but a device to bring together some of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, but that does not make the film less interesting or entertaining. The Expendables knew exactly what it wanted to be – a celebration of not only the careers of names like Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger but also of the entire B-action movie genre as a whole. Stallone, Lundgren, Schwarzenegger, and everyone else had nothing to prove to the industry after being the face of Hollywood’s action movies for more than two decades, but The Expendables still felt like a love letter to a style of action film that audiences can no longer easily find in theaters.
An argument can be made that superheroes have replaced the ’80s and ’90s action stars, which makes The Expendables almost like a farewell to a lost genre. That said, there is nothing particularly original about The Expendables other than the excitement of seeing all those names working together. Sylvester Stallone does a good job in The Expendables as the director, mostly because he takes the film seriously when many could have made it too silly. Still, The Expendables falls short when compared to some of the best films in the careers of its cast. Compared to what The Expendables 2 would do a couple of years later, The Expendables felt like it wasted a great setup.
In terms of pop culture impact, Rocky IV has several scenes and lines that will forever be remembered. “If he dies, he dies”, Apollo Creed’s death, and the final Rocky versus Drago fight are some of the most recognizable moments in the Rocky franchise, not to mention how Ivan Drago is considered by many the best opponent Balboa ever had. That said, Rocky IV belonged in another moment of the Rocky franchise – one that had already forgotten what made Rocky and Rocky II so good. From Rocky III to Rocky V, the Rocky movies started to focus more on Rocky Balboa as a fighter than as a human, which is very much the opposite of what had been done in the first two Rocky films.
The antagonists became more cartoonish, the fights became more unrealistic, and the emotional stakes were no longer that high. Rocky IV combines all of those mistakes, even though it is supposed to be an emotionally heavy movie considering Apollo Creed’s death. Dolph Lundgren is tasked with one mission in Rocky IV, and the actor delivers. Rocky IV’s Ivan Drago does not have any depth, but he is a remarkable antagonist for Balboa. Still, compared to the second time Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa and Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago would meet on screen, Creed II, Rocky IV is just not as good.
The Expendables 2 (2012)
The Expendables 2 does not take itself as seriously as The Expendables, which could have been a problem. However, The Expendables 2 uses its sillier tone in its favor, and the result is a movie that delivers all the fun that audiences could expect from a movie featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest action stars. Sylvester Stallone returned as Barney Ross but not as the director, and thus Simon West was picked to helm the Expendables sequel.
Most of The Expendables’ cast returned for The Expendables 2, now with the addition of names like Liam Hemsworth, and Scott Adkins, plus a bigger role for Bruce Willis and a Chuck Norris cameo. The Expendables 2 also has a clear advantage over The Expendables – the villain.
Whereas The Expendables’ antagonist James Munroe is quite forgettable, The Expendables 2 brings Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villainous Jean Vilain, with Van Damme giving a performance that reveals how much fun the actor was having. Jean-Claude Van Damme had originally declined to star in the first Expendables, which was for the better in hindsight. With so many stars who audiences are used to seeing winning every on-screen fight, the Expendables franchise needed a villain played by yet another A-list action actor – which makes The Expendables 2 much more enjoyable than its predecessor.
Creed II (2018)
The Creed franchise is telling the story of Adonis Creed and his family, but still, Creed II managed to be the perfect Rocky legacy movie. Adonis’ story remains the focus, as it was in Creed (2015), but now Michael B. Jordan’s character has to deal with the ghosts from his past. Creed dealt with all the positive memories that Rocky’s role in Adonis’s life could bring, so it was most fitting that Creed II dealt with the negative ones. Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago returns for the first time since Rocky IV, now as a real character. Instead of the soulless fighting machine from Rocky IV, Creed II’s Ivan Drago is a human – one with fears, insecurities, and lots of regrets. The interactions between Stallone’s Balboa and Dolph Lundgren’s Drago are a highlight, but Creed II is more than just a Rocky IV love letter. Drago’s son, Viktor Drago, raises the stakes for Adonis’ story as Creed II tests how resilient Adonis can really be. As an action movie with a lot of heart, Creed II is the best Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren film.