Acclaimed director and film multi-hyphenate Shaun Piccinino is set to direct American Fighter for ESX Entertainment. The film is a sequel to last year’s American Wrestler: The Wizard which starred actor George Kosturos in the 1980-set tale of a young Iranian teen transplanted into a new town where he’s forced to face adversity from all angles after joining the high school wrestling team.
Kosturos is returning to the sequel according to a new report from Variety which also lists Tommy Flanagan, Bryan Craig, Sean Patrick Flanery and Parviz Sayyad attached to star. Forrest Lucas, Ali Afshar, Christina Moore and Anna Zielinski are producing the film with a story by Afshar that now centers on a desperate teen who builds character between opponents upon competing in the underground fight circuit to save his dying mother.
“Continuing down the line of a ‘Rocky’ meets ‘Karate Kid’ story, this new ‘American Wrestler’ movie remains a very heartfelt project for me,” Afshar said. “The response to my true story was extremely motivating so I wanted to keep the story going in a consistent manner and tone and have the right script and cast to rekindle the magic of the first film. The sequel is an original story and not based on my life – I don’t think I would have excelled as an underground fighter.”
Piccinino is a seventeen-year veteran of film sharing credits both in front and behind the camera with skills in martial arts under Guru Steve Pisa, as well as acting, fight choreography, motion capture, VFX and editing to name a few; Select credits include shortfilm Mable, television series Deadliest Warrior, Truly Indie Studios webseries Six Feet Down Under and Heroes With Issues. His 2012 Guy Ritchie-style feature crime thriller, The Lackey, circulated SoCal Film Festival and the AOF Film Festival and acquired four wins among a raft of nominations before releasing in 2013.