While getting some of the biggest and notable action stars together for a single movie is no easy feat to achieve, it’s one worth celebrating when it happens. Namely, I speak of talents like Skin Trade and Furious Seven breakout co-star Tony Jaa, and Man Of Tai Chi-starring opposites Tiger Chen and Iko Uwais, all of whom have been prolific in the last three years, and if you’re wondering if there’s any meaning to my mention of their names in this article, then with any luck and smooth scheduling, we may be onto something!
For this, we look to the forthcoming Chinese production of the new ensemble action thriller, Makeshift Squad, which also has Rise Of The Legend and Indepedence Day: Resurgence co-star, actress Angelababy joining the cast as the female lead. Plot and story info are not yet known, although an unnamed source with knowledge on the production contacted Film Combat Syndicate on Monday, describing the film thematically as “The Asian Expendables”.
Inside Or Outside helmer Gary Mak, who also shares numerous credits as an actor, as well as assisstant director on such films as Tony Ching’s An Empress And The Warriors (2008), Teddy Chen’s Bodyguards And Assassins (2009) and Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster (2013), will direct with an eye to start filming as soon as early 2017. The news comes on the heels of many an update pertainting to Jaa who appears next to Vin Diesel in xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage in January, and is long in the running to reunite with Mechanic: Resurrection star Jason Statham for High Value Target, which could have Category 5 helmer Rob Cohen directing if possibilities remain open.
Chen, a martial artist and stunt protégé of leading action auteur Yuen Woo-Ping, stars in Kung Fu Cyborg this December ahead of Jonathan Lim’s upcoming martial arts adventure, Kung Fu Cowboy. As for Uwais who stars alongside Frank Grillo in the upcoming sci-fi, Beyond Skyline, TIFF attendees can expect the Indoesian action wunderkind to light things up for this week’s Midnight Madness premiere of Mo Bros’s action thriller, Headshot, before joining actor Joe Taslim for Timo Tjahjanto’s The Night Comes For Us, UFC bantamweight and actress Ronda Rousey for Peter Berg’s Mile 22, and for the love of Celluloid Jesus and all things pure and true in the world, helmer Gareth Huw Evans for The Raid 3.
Details for Makeshift Squad remain pending along with other news at this stage, though we can certainly confirm otherwise that progress is looking good. At any rate, it looks like 2017 is going to be another loaded year for even more martial arts cinema hype, and I’m certain that all of us will be watching and waiting to see which other Asian stars will round out this Expendables-esque package by the time cameras roll.