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SYFY WIRE Minions: The Rise of Gru

'Minions: The Rise of Gru' is the 'Expendables' of animation, featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, and more

Minions: The Rise of Gru assembles an amazing collection of action legends in one movie. Find out who they voice.

By Tara Bennett
The Vicious 6

The second prequel movie in the Despicable Me franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, premieres in theaters on July 1 and further fleshes out the adventures of young Gru (Steve Carell) and his early minion helpers. Now 12 years old, Gru is still a hug fan of bad guys, and he obsesses over the supervillain team known as the Vicious 6. A collection of the greatest baddies of the time, the Vicious 6 is experiencing some "unrest" as the members unceremoniously throws out their long-time leader, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin).

How rude. 

But, it does open the door for an assemblage of some of the greatest names in martial arts and action blockbusters who have been recruited to voice a host of new characters in the movie, including the members of the Vicious 6. This new prequel finds Gru hoping to fill Wild Knuckles' spot with his villain audition, which doesn't impress the remaining team members. And that opens the door for even more legendary voices to guide and antagonize little Gru.

If you'd like to go into Minions: The Rise of Gru pure, now's the time to stop reading. But if you'd like a primer to match those famous voices to the new characters, SYFY WIRE reveals the rundown that just about rivals the various epic casts of The Expendables movies (especially considering there's some actor crossovers happening between the two franchises).

Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson)

A still from Minions: The Rise Of Gru

Actress Taraji P. Henson has lent her acting skills to just about every animated project of note in the last decade. Wreck It Ralph, Ice Age, The Muppets, and The Simpsons — Henson has been a part of them all. So, it makes sense that she's the one to slip into the shiny pantsuit of leadership worn by the new Vicious 6 commander, Belle Bottom. Plus, the lady knows how to accessorize with her chain belt doubling as a lethal disco-ball mace. Groovy.

Nun-chuck (Lucy Lawless)

Xena (Lucy Lawless) - Xena: Warrior Princess

Bust out your best Xena Warrior Princess battle cry because the TV action queen is donning the austere habit of Vicious 6 member, Nun-chuck. She may look like she's just walked out of a chapel but behind her robes and cross she's hiding some scary nunchaku and she's always ready to use them to dispense some unholy hell on the Vicious 6's enemies. Having Lawless play against type is an ingenious surprise for those who expect her to kick ass in leather and armor. 

Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren)

Action superstar Dolph Lundgren is best known for playing Ivan Drago, the Soviet boxer who laid out Rocky in Rocky III. Lundgren was also part of the ensemble cast of The Expendables, which makes it all the more hilarious that the straight-man action star is playing Swedish roller-skate champion, Svengeance. Wearing spiked skates that allow him to finish his enemies with some well-placed spin kicks, Svengeance also rocks some luscious, free-flowing, blonde locks with a matching 'stache. 

Stronghold (Danny Trejo)

Danny Trejo Machete

Danny Trejo is the madman of action cinema and B-movie favorites. From Machete to The Muppets, the action legend has done it all and now he gets to translate his signature snarl and growl to the role of Stronghold. With a chest that doubles for a wall of muscle, the villain makes a wrestling onesie look good. And if you say otherwise, he'll knock you into next week with his giant iron hands. 

Jean-Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme)

Van Damme via Getty Images | Corbis Entertainment | Stephane Cardinale-Corbis

The "Muscles from Brussels" is a pioneer of martial arts action flicks, but more importantly, audiences finally realized Jean-Claude Van Damme has a sense of humor in 2016 with his hilarious starring turn in the TV series tv series, Jean-Claude Van Johnson. Because of that, Van Damme is the perfect voice for the very French looking villain, Jean-Clawed. Wearing a bowler, stripes and a massive robotic claw, he's an enthusiastic creator of chaos in the Vicious 6 lineup. 

Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh)

Master Chow

Outside of the Vicious 6, look to the mad skills of Master Chow, an acupuncturist who teaches Gru and his minions the power of martial arts. Voiced by the velvet-voiced legend of the genre, Michelle Yeoh, she schools the clueless villains in training on how to play with the big boys. Don't underestimate her grey hair and pear shape, Chow is going to lay waste to the noobs until they can stand up for themselves.

Minions: The Rise of Gru opens exclusively in theaters on July 1.