GRACIE: MMA Biopic Centered On The Birth Of UFC In The Works
In all likelihood, MMA had a major stake in film. The proliferation of the fighting art at the top of the new millenium saw its way to the marquee with the likes of Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon, Chiwetel Ejiofor in Redbelt, Donnie Yen in Films like S.P.L., Flash Point and Special ID, and even the fan fare of all things Michael Jai White and Boyka (lest the fanboys forget the actor’s name is Scott Adkins).
Certainly, mixed martial arts was a grand spectacle in the last fifteen years or so. Martial arts aficionados even date its birth back to Bruce Lee as much as they prefer, while for others, it was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grandmaster Rorion Gracie’s father, Helio, who pioneered the fighting art from its roots, thus passing it on through the famous family that now embodies much of what sustains the craft in the Ultimate Fighting Championship with Rorion serving as one of its founders nearly a quarter century ago.
Such is the story that encapsulates current plans for new Rorion Gracie biopic, Gracie, from Mandalay Sports Media and IMG with scribe and Gracie system student Robert Specland scripting. Mandalay Sports Media’s own Mike Tollin and Mason Gordon are producing along with Select Films’ Mark Ciardi and Mayhem Pictures’ Gordon Gray. Mandalay Sports Media’s co-financing deal with IMG under the Endeavor umbrella will provide funding for the production.
IMG executive Will Staeger is overseeing production.
More from Deadline on Monday:
Taught jiu-jitsu in Brazil by his father Helio — who pioneered the Brazilian style — Rorion Gracie came to the U.S. hoping to elevate the popularity of a self-defense system designed so that smaller men and women could use leverage to defend themselves and prevail over much larger opponents. Rorion became one of the martial artists who choreographed the climactic Lethal Weapon battle between Mel Gibson and Gary Busey and would go to dojos all over, challenging experts who would be forced to submit.
“No one could beat him,” said Ciardi, who called the movie “a crown jewel of sports stories.” Gracie finally realized that if he was going to spread his father’s system faster than one dojo at a time, television would be the best medium. With Art Davie, Gracie conceived the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a no-holds-barred competitive fighting tournament featuring contestants from every conceivable discipline, with clashing styles leading to an overall champion.
He needed someone with youthful everyman appeal to represent the Gracie system, and Rorion enlisted his younger brother Royce. He became UFC’s first star, skillfully demonstrating the style’s effectiveness even though he was often at a decided weight disadvantage in matches. No matter how hulking the combatant, once Royce clamped onto an opponent’s neck, arm or leg, it became a matter of time before the pain of his submission holds became too much and the opponent tapped out. Royce won three of the first five UFC tournaments, fighting to a draw in the finals in a fourth.
Rorion Gracie was a purist who favored battles that lasted as long as it took for a winner to emerge, and he bowed out of his UFC ownership stake early, as timed rounds and a faster pace became required to build the sport as a business. The UFC switched hands several times, most recently bought by Endeavor-owned IMG and WME for $4 billion in 2016. Initially dismissed as “human cockfighting” by Sen. John McCain because of the violent ground fighting, UFC has supplanted traditional boxing in popularity.
Said MSM’s Mike Tollin: “Gracie is the latest film project to take shape under the MSM/IMG output deal. Considering the close relationship between the Endeavor Content Group, IMG and UFC, this immediately becomes a priority project for us.”
THE HURT BUSINESS Takes On The World Of MMA In The New Documentary Trailer
I have to admit it’s a little awkward promoting a documentary in which one of its subjects just landed in a controversial spotlight, and in lieu of this, surely, former UFC 200 prospect Jon “Bones” Jones has some steps to take to work on his own issues. However, consider, if you will, the gruesome and physically demanding nature of mixed martial arts, and the seemingly odd-yet-fitting sense of love felt by its practioners, prolific and upcoming.
Ronda Rousey Biography, MY FIGHT/YOUR FIGHT Gets The Big Screen Treatment!
Courtesy of Regan Arts
Ronda Rousey is having a most epic year so far. Well into a fruitful career as a mixed-martial arts champion now 12-0 after defeating challenger Bethe Correia over the weekend at UFC 190 in just 34 seconds, the currently-reigning bantamweight champion is also managing a lucrative career as a film actress with three titles to her name, including her 2014 debut in The Expendables 3, and this year’s releases of the movie adaptation of HBO’s Entourage and the blockbuster success of James Wan’s Furious Seven.
Her success is so far chronicled in My Fight/Your Fight, her new book published back in May as it discusses her time competing in Olympic judo up to her status now as a top-tier professional fighter. Such a resume has often spoken of prospects leading to my own questions on social media among others about who could possibly star in a biopic about Rousey‘s life. Dare I say I among a likely many fans and folks alike saw today’s news coming with word from THR that Rousey will be starring in, as well as producing a feature film adaptation of her book with a script by executive producer Mark Bomback, and Mary Parent also producing.
Mile 22 is also in the cards for Rousey which brings her together with Lone Survivor star and director Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg, and The Raid 1 and 2 star Iko Uwais. Of course there are other titles in the works as well and though they aren’t being mentioned in the headlines as of late, they’re still worth looking out for.
Keep an eye out for more details!
This Club Is For Girls Only! FIGHT VALLEY Casts Tate And Holm With Cyborg In Talks!
Putting aside all the latest hype from Chuck Palahniuk’s latest graphic novel sequel to David Fincher’s 1999 beat ’em up psych drama, Fight Club, the idea of an all-female version of this particular kind of movie is pretty intriguing. Alas, that’s the comparison being used here in the wake of recent news surrounding MMA fighters Holly Holm and Miesha Tate who have apparently scored a major roles in the new urban action drama, Fight Valley.
The Albuquerque Journal initially reported the information on Monday this week with word from cinematographer Michael Lucas by way of an email to the journal from Holm’s promoter Lenny Fresquez, confirming Holm’s involvment. There’s no complete word on the casting and crewing so far other than what’s been mention on the film’s IMDb page (as of this write-up) and official website, the former which lists the film as actor and stuntman Eric Aude’s directorial debut alongside veteran filmmakers Rob Hawk and Joe Tornatore for the production to begin in New York this August.
When Tory Coro turns up dead, the neighborhood turns up silent. Rumor has it she became yet another victim of an organized underground fight club where girls go to face their worst enemies, never knowing if the abandoned industrial park dubbed FIGHT VALLEY will be the last place they will be seen alive. Tory’s sister Windsor moves to town to begin her own investigation on her sister’s mysterious death.
She’s quick to learn that Tory fought for money, just to make ends meet. If girl-next-door Windsor is going to make her way into FIGHT VALLEY to find the truth about Tory, she’s going to have to fight her way in. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t know how to fight.
Former FIGHT VALLEY champion “Jabs” (Starring pro fighter Miesha Tate) swore she would never throw a punch in the Valley again. Jabs now finds herself training Windsor to survive the painful, unexpected path she’s about to take. Every corner. Every alley. Every doorway. She must follow the last footsteps of her sister in order to come face-to-face with Tory’s killer in FIGHT VALLEY.
The Journal further details Holm’s character as “Payton Walsh, a mainstream fighter who shows “Jabs” what it’s like to fight within the rules.” – I assume this means we’ll be seeing Holm and Tate going toe-to-toe in the film at some point, while the report also throws in a possible casting mention of Cristiane Justino (a.k.a. Cris Cyborg); Casting is yet to be determined for the lead role of Windsor among others.
As for whether or not this line-up can deliver on the acting chops as equal to their fighting abilities, your guess is as good as mine. Other than that, Fight Valley sounds a lot like it takes cues from titles such as Best Of The Best 2 and Green Street 3 more than anything, but, no complaints here. There are more female-centric tournament actioners coming soon, and this newest venture just further adds to the excitement within the niche it was meant for, especially with people like Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey getting their kicks on screen as well, so let’s hope this one becomes a hit.
Comment below or on our Facebook page and let us know what you think!
White's NEVER BACK DOWN 3 Adds Nathan Jones, Cinematographer Ross Clarkson
Fans of martial arts action star Michael Jai White can feel free to keep their antennae up a little longer as production awaits for his next directorial move with Never Back Down 3. White‘s attachment to the direct-to-DVD 2011 sequel in 2011 as its co-star and director has lended itself as one of the greatest additions to the genre’s history as a movie geared toward mixed-martial arts fans by and large and with a third on the way, given all we’ve heard thusfar, we can more than likely expect something special out of this next line-up.
The word is that the roster has officially added former wrestler-turned-actor Nathan Jones, according to a social media post from veteran cinematographer Ross Clarkson who shared the attached photo just above. After a career spanning fields such as powerlifting, MMA and wrestling, Jones began his continuing resume in Jackie Chan’s First Strike (1996) before landing roles opposite the likes of Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong (2005) and Jet Li in Fearless (2006) prior to debuting a lead role of his own in Nanthakor Thaweesuk’s Thai action romp, Som Tum (2008) to name a few.
Clarkson‘s addition is also a reassuring one as an ACS and HKSC-certified lensman, having worked among the likes of filmmakers Ringo Lam and Simon West in addition to Isaac Florentine for the last two Undisputed films with White starring in the second film in 2006.
Fans can further expect other appearances from stars like Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin along with former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett. In the meantime, Jones can currently be seen in this summer’s dystopian box-office smash hit, Mad Max: Fury Road, with other titles to follow.
Stay tuned for more info!
H/T: Ross Clarkson
Michael Jai White Teases A Possible Title For NEVER BACK DOWN 3
Mixed martial arts as a sport has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the martial arts action genre over the last decade or so. One of the more mainstream attempts at this was director Jeff Wadlow’s 2008 coming-of-age action drama, Never Back Down, which did pretty well at the box office.
The film evidently led to its direct-to-DVD smaller-scale follow-up in 2011, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, with martial arts action superstar Michael Jai White co-starring, as well as debuting his first feature as director. Despite a miniscule budget of only $3 million with barely half the time it took to rehearse and film than its predecessor, the film ultimately earned the appeal of fans and left the potential for a third.
A lot more time has passed since then, and with fans still clamoring for more of what they saw in White’s continuance, it wasn’t until last week when the actor himself posted a photo announcing further updates on a possible third installment. On Tuesday, White kept his word with a new photo post on his page stating a potential title for the hopeful third film in the form of Never Back Down: Generations.
The photo White included in his post was that of himself with Guardians Of The Galaxy co-star, actor Djimon Hounsou. Hounsou first appeared in the 2008 film in the role of Jean Roqua opposite actor Sean Faris in the role of trouble-prone high school teen Jake Tyler; Roqua, an MMA pugilist and trainer, agreed to mentor Tyler in his desperation to learn how to fight after getting humiliated by MMA-obsessed glory hound Ryan McCarthy, played by Cam Cigandet. Supporting actor Evan Peters played Jake’s newfound friend, MMA fanboy, Max Cooperman, who also appeared in the 2011 sequel where White, in turn, stepped into the mentor role of Case Walker opposite then-lead, Dean Geyer.
It’s all very early at the moment, but White seems to be making it clear that this film is definitely going to happen, and with the likelihood that he and Hounsou may both appear in the film together at that! It’s an excellent move that could tie the first two films together in a way that could solidify the franchise once and for all. Of course, that all depends on who gets cast and what will be said of its production and forthcoming release.
I’ll leave it at that for now. In the meantime, White is slated to star in next month’s limited theatrical release of Falcon Rising, as well as Skin Trade next year with a date to be announced soon. Hounsou will make his next appearance in Fast And Furious 7 on April 3, 2015.
Subscribe to Michael Jai White’s Facebook page and stay tuned for more info!
Church Takes Its Message Ringside In The New Docu Trailer For FIGHT CHURCH
Generally, if you’ve gone to church enough times in your life, you often get to observe the topic of the internal and external struggles in the world among circles of faith, in some capacity. Well, times have changed, and some churches and their followers have chosen to expand their discourse through mixed martial arts training and competition, combining both disciplines in the name of their religious and spiritual identities.
NSFW Trailer For EVIL FEED Goes Full-On Cagefighting Cannibalism Crazy
Steven spent his entire life being the good son, dedicated all his time to the family business, The Long Pig Restaurant, known in the underground world for cannibalistic cuisine. When Steven hears that his father would rather sell the business to a stranger than pass it down to his own son, Steven has no choice but to chop off his head. With his father’s head safely displayed in a cabinet, Steven and his nymphomaniac girlfriend have big plans for The Long Pig. They caputre elite MMA fighters and force them to battle in the restaurant’s new “Pit of Gore” where blood thirsty customers get to watch their meals being tenderized. Steven calls this, “Tendertainment!”
MMA Star Cung Le Pushes THE RAID Remake, CROUCHING TIGER 2 And Other Projects In Development
Mixed martial artist, professional fighter and actor Cung Le has quite an expansive career in film Hollywood and abroad. With well over a decade of credits with titles in America and parts of Asia, the True Legend and Fighting co-star has also gained some pretty huge notoriety with recent releases like the 2012 martial arts crime drama, Dragon Eyes, and RZA’s kung fu homage, The Man With The Iron Fists.
As it stands, there’s no sign of Le stopping any time soon between working the professional fight arena and preparing for roles on set, according to a new viral video sent over to M.A.A.C.. While in Asia to promote his August 23 UFC match with Michael Bisping, the actor disclosed a small handful of projects that lie-in-waiting for him after his next fight with interviewers for MMA-in-Asia.
Some notable projects and important names he mentioned included that of Hong Kong action cinema legend Sammo Hung and Edko Films president Bill Kong (pictured top/left), both who are respectively co-starring and producing director Roy Chow’s Rise Of The Legend with Universal. Le also mentioned talks with producers for a role in Master Yuen Woo-Ping’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Destiny, which would ultimately reunite Le with Master Yuen and action star Donnie Yen since sharing respective credits for Wong Kar Wai’s 2013 kung fu biopic, The Grandmaster, and helmer Teddy Chen’s 2009 assassin thriller, Bodyguards And Assassins.
Le gave away a few more gems thereafter regarding being in talks for a role in Screen Gems’ forthcoming production of director Patrick Hughes’ The Raid remake, in addition to a project being put together by Hollywood stunt coordinator J.J. Perry for his own directorial debut. The interesting part of the interview was that it surrounded Le‘s career activity being heavily set in Asia, namely Macau, which might make for a few giveaways about what these aforementioned projects will entail as they are now coming to light in their embryotic stages. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that Le has the fans going wild, so it will be worth paying attention to in the years and months ahead with more news to come.
Le‘s newest action thriller, Puncture Wounds, directed by James Coyne and Giorgio Serafini, and also starring Dolph Lundgren is now available wherever films are sold. In the meantime, watch the video, subscribe to his official Facebook page and stay excited!
H/T: Paul Martell
ENSO Productions Presents: CRUEL WORLD
It’s been a while since we’ve last heard from the official YouTube channel for ENSO Productions as their members have likely been busy growing their respective careers, including independent filmmaker, industry stuntman and fight choreographer Walter Garcia whose work has been written about quite a few times on my site, as well as a handful of others in the last several years. He’s one of the most prolific action designers I know of and his online resume of shortfilms are proof of just how good he is behind the camera, as well as in front of it.
You can now check out some of his latest work behind the camera right now in the new online test fight short, Cruel World, with Ryan Robertson and featuring fellow ENSO members Travis Gomez and Isaac Hughes. It’s only a few minutes long, but still makes for another artful presentation of solid fight choreography incorporated with a touch of drama to level up some of the intensity.
These guys aren’t just stuntmen. In my opinion, they’re actors in their own right, as it takes such a talent to also make stunt work convincing, on top of the physical requirements needed.
Hughes is also the subject of a new stunt reel which you can also check out below the new short test fight. Feel free to share this article or head over to the channel to subscribe and share the videos directly with friends!
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