Friday, September 26, 2008

MMA, UFC and TJ (and Mike B.)

The Hollywood Reporter has a big story about mixed-martial arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and how their popularity is influencing martial-arts films. It covers the likes of Never Back Down and The Forbidden Kingdom as well as the David Mamet-penned indie Redbelt, plus Donnie Yen and Flash Point.

The Weinstein Company's Bey Logan is invoked as a source, as is Kung Fu Cinema's Mark Pollard. And from there we get to Thailand:

Pollard cites Tony Jaa, a rising Thai action star who's gained attention with such films as Ong-Bak and The Protector, as another performer capturing the MMA spirit. "He's not really doing UFC style," he says. "It's Muay Thai boxing. But I think it appeals a lot to the MMA and UFC fan base."

And the Brave guy:

Art Birzneck, president of Birch Tree Entertainment, plans to fuse the old with the new. An international sales and production company specializing in martial arts films such as Brave, featuring Thai action star Mike B., Birch Tree is teaming up with action star Russell Wong (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) to produce films under the joint venture Urasia.

"You have to mix the styles, start bringing a little bit more Western sensibilities into the films," says Birzneck. "Our primary directive is to fuse the Asian component and MMA component together."

Or an even crazier mix. Like Fireball, perhaps?

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