There are two MMA movies coming out within a year.

Ken ShamrockThe first, Never Submit, is the story of a judo champion who enters an MMA tournament, haunted by the memory of his father’s death in a no-holds-barred match 10 years earlier. Ken Shamrock plays the dead father; I know getting defeated in an MMA match will be a stretch for him to play but I bet he’s got the chops.

I wouldn’t count on seeing this movie any time soon, however, or in any sort of major release. Rumors about its production have been circulating for a year and a half now (note: the fighters named in that article are apparently no longer in the cast). Its official website is terrible. You start to recognize these things as symptoms of “production hell” – the pre-filming stages that mean a movie’s never coming to life.

“When,” you ask, “oh when will a serious director give mixed martial arts the treatment they deserve?”

Chiwetel Ejiofor in RedbeltApparently, May of this year. David Mamet (?!) is releasing his film Redbelt, starring Serenity‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor (?!?) as a martial arts instructor turned prize fighter. Additional cast include Mamet regulars Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Rebecca Pidgeon, as well as that staple of fighting films, Tim Allen (?!?!). And it boasts big name fighters like Randy “The Natural” Couture in its cast.

As usual with a Mamet film, an outsider is drawn into a world of lies and intrigue, nothing is as it seems, etc etc. In this case, Ejiofor (as a martial arts teacher) crosses paths with a big celebrity (Allen). He becomes embroiled in the world of Hollywood, and then with the world of MMA prizefighting, through seedy pay-per-view promoters (Jay; Mantegna). Unlike most Mamet films, however, there are some kickass fight scenes.

Never Submit barely has a consistent cast. Redbelt already has a kickass trailer. I know which movie I’m in line to see.

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