Filmmaker Shaun Piccinino is proudly taking the floor at the Auditorium des diplômés de la SGWU for the world premiere of his new action drama, American Fighter. The film, which returns actor George Kosturos to the screen in a loose follow-up from Alex Ranarivelo’s American Wrestler: The Wizard, is screening on July 28 for this year’s 23rd Fantasia Festival which just unveiled an extended trailer above, and programmer Rupert Bottenberg sums up the film accordingly:
It’s 1981 and the California sun is shining bright, but there are dark clouds over college kid Ali Jahani, a wrestling champ. He’s haunted by memories of revolutionary Iran, from which he escaped as a child. Those disturbing dreams are realized when bad news, not his beloved parents, greets him at the airport. He’s desperate to get his mother safely out of Iran, but this can’t be done through conventional channels. And it can’t be done cheap. Where will he get that kind of money? A buddy brings him to a low-key warehouse at night. Stepping through the doors, Ali comes face to face with the answer — and it’s a troubling one. Head to head fights, any style goes, for cash. Before Ali can help his mother, someone‘s gonna get hurt.
Producer Ali Afshar told his own inspiring story with the 2017 sports drama AMERICAN WRESTLER: THE WIZARD, and extends the tale with this hard-hitting sequel — of sorts. His alter ego Ali Jahani, played again by the charismatic and combat-capable George Kosturos, follows a darker path this time, into the world of underground fighting. While no longer autobiographical, AMERICAN FIGHTER is just as credible, its string of brutal and convincing bouts threading through a grounded, plausible drama with real stakes and real consequences. These are personified by Sean Patrick Flanery and Tommy Flanagan, familiar screen tough guys delivering truly nuanced turns as fight-scene insiders. A pinch of political thriller, a helping of California coming-of-age, and whole lotta bare-fisted battling in the bad part of town add up to a solid win for AMERICAN FIGHTER.
Tickets are still on sale here, so get ’em if you’re interested. The film was one of twenty we picked for titles you might not want to miss at Fantasia this year, and you can find it listed among nineteen more in this article.