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The Raid Star Iko Uwais Has Boarded Expendables 4 As The Villain

Rising action star Iko Uwais is bringing his martial arts skills to "The Expendables" franchise as the next big bad to square off against Sylvester Stallone and his titular crew, Deadline reports. 

Uwais was reportedly cast this week as the main villain for "The Expendables 4" despite several other actors being originally pegged for the role, including Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood (per IGN). Uwais fought his way into the Hollywood spotlight over the years with roles like Rama in 2011's martial arts hit "The Raid" and then its sequel, "The Raid 2." 

The "Expendables" franchise has seen some massive names play villains since its inception, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mel Gibson. So Uwais will have some pretty big shoes to fill. But if you ask his former co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Keanu Reeves, they'd likely tell you it'll be a piece of cake. "He is spectacular and a sweetheart of a guy ... but a badass too," Wahlberg told the Deccan Chronicle in 2018, while promoting their movie "Mile 22." 

Reeves, meanwhile, reportedly became so impressed by Uwais after seeing "The Rain" and his other work that he cast him in his directorial debut, "Man of Tai Chi" (via Men's Health).

Uwais to play military officer-turned-arms dealer

According to Deadline, Iko Uwais was cast in "The Expendables 4" as a former military officer-turned-arms dealer who will be waging war against Stallone and co. with his own private army. The rest of the plot is unclear, though several stars from the three previous "Expendables" movies will be returning — including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture.

Uwais' most recent acting work includes roles in 2019's "Stuber," 2018's "Night Comes for Us," the Netflix series "The Wu Assassins'" and Paramount+'s G.I. Joe spin-off "Snake Eyes." He's also preparing to star in the upcoming Netflix film "Fists Full of Vengeance." 

Speaking to Men's Health in 2019, the soon-to-be "Expendables" villain described whether he was boxing himself in by making such violent movies. "I always try my best to bring the beauty of the martial arts into the screen," Uwais said. "The fight is an aesthetic, after all. An art form. A beat. Yet it's one American cinema continues to bastardize. Or let stand in the background, while the amateur A-listers slug it out. Or cross lightsabers. No humanity indeed."