Last year’s exiting Los Angeles Film Festival saw the premiere of director Dallas Jackson’s coming-of-age Blumhouse revenge slasher, Thriller. I tried posting a trailer for that one ahead of its screening before it quietly got removed from its channel and I hadn’t seen or heard from that film or its filmmaker since, so I never really got to share a post on it.
The film eventually surprised folks with a Netflix release back in April and it’s currently on my watchlist while Jackson retains his career progression into some interesting territory with Welcome To Sudden Death from Universal 1140. It’s now underway in Winnepeg, Canada with a cast that lists martial arts star and actor Michael Jai White and actor and comedian Gary Owen.
The film also enlists actor and martial artist Marrese Crump most prolifically known for dueling with Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong 2 and who recently just finished work on the Cyprus production of Alain Moussi/Nicolas Cage starter, Jiu-Jitsu; White also shared the set with Jaa for their 2015 bout in Ekchai Uekrongtham’s foreboding Dolph Lundgren human trafficking thriller, Skin Trade.
Welcome To Sudden Death is billed as a reboot with a comedic twist from its 1995 predecessor reteaming Timecop duo Peter Hyams and 90s big-legs-and-karate-wielding Belgian beefcake, actor Jean-Claude Van Damme who plays an ex-fireman battling to save a packed hockey stadium overtaken by terrorists; White and Van Damme became friends in the time since sharing the set together for 1998 sci-fi action sequel, Universal Soldier: The Return, from director Mic Rogers.
Jackson also worked in television notably as executive producer on BET series, Rebel, with long time mentor, late iconic-filmmaker John Singleton. Griff Furst and Kim Todd are producing for the film’s release currently slated for June next year.
“I’m such a huge fan of martial-arts films I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reboot this cult classic with Universal 1440,” says Jackson. “Michael Jai White and Gary Owen are both at the top of their game right now and an on-screen dream team. We’re having a blast making this movie and putting a twist on the buddy-action genre. I can’t wait for the world to see what we’re cooking!”
Also starring is actress Kristen Harris along with actress Gillian White who last shared the screen with martial arts star White for Never Back Down: No Surrender. White himself recently starred in hits like Jesse Johnson’s Triple Threat, S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete and Keoni Waxman’s The Hard Way, and is currently at a slow brew with his forthcoming spiritual Black Dynamite follow-up, The Outlaw Johnny Black.
Set video footage for Welcome To Sudden Death arose a week and a half ago and Eoin Friel at The Action Elite was the first to lend a hat tip to the action cinema bloggosphere. Jackson stirred the word-of-mouth pot on the project months prior in earlier interviews with Nightmare On Film Street podcast in May, and the L.A. Sentinel a month later, teasing it as a “martial arts ‘Die Hard'”.