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Gavin O'Connor Developing MMA Film Titled Warriors

by
September 10, 2008

MMA

This week I caught up with Greg O'Connor, brother of director Gavin O'Connor and producer of most of his films, and talked with him about Pride and Glory. Before the interview wrapped, Greg talked about Gavin's potential next film - a drama called Warriors set in the world of mixed martial arts (aka MMA). As far as I know, this is the first time I've heard of this, and considering I'm a fan of UFC, I was excited to delve into details. Additionally, since David Mamet's Redbelt, the only other recent MMA film, turned out terrible, I was intrigued to hear that Hollywood hadn't given up entirely on MMA just yet.

"We're working on something that Gavin-- seems like something he's going to direct next. It's called Warrior, and it's in the world of mixed martial arts." Back in 2002, Greg and Gavin made a documentary called Smashing Machine about fighter Mark Kerr and the early days of the UFC. "I thought that Gavin would not be the obvious filmmaker to make a movie like that and that's what I thought was really cool about it," O'Connor explains. He adds that "Gavin is actually very influenced by Rocky." But instead of making a movie about boxing, they decided to look into the world of MMA. "I think there's an opportunity to tell a story in this world, and it's a world that has a lot of interest right now."

So what of the story? O'Connor was a bit short on the details, but he gives a good introduction. "I think it has a very visceral feeling like Pride and Glory but it's about two brothers who are fighters, who are estranged, and who have to, through the course of the story, find each other again and reconnect to a relationship with their father, who they've sort of also become estranged with." Of course I had to ask about the UFC and their involvement, since they seem like a tough organization to work with.

"It's interesting, we're not working with the UFC, we made a specific decision not to work with the UFC, only because our understanding is that they actually want more influence over what the content of the material is than we want to give them. We've actually used that to our advantage in the story and we're specifically not doing UFC and creating sort of a tournament that is a new thing but feels very authentic. It does play very authentically in terms of the world and the fighters in the world, like Randy Couture and other people that are sort of embedded in the movie."

The ten people out there who saw Redbelt know that, in theory, that film had the potential to be great, but Mamet forgot to think about how important fighting was in an MMA movie. But Warriors on the other hand actually sounds pretty damn good. It may still be a drama, but O'Connor made it sound like a studio film, not at all independent, that will have fighting and all that great MMA stuff that we want to see. And as for Gavin O'Connor directing and Greg O'Connor producing, the two seem to know how to make great dramas, so that's nothing we should be worried about. It sounds like Randy Couture will be involved, but what other fighters would be great to see? Does an MMA movie sound exciting to you?

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  • Stefanzo
    Whoa. What's with the underhand jab at Redbelt? It was far from terrible and I personally really enjoyed it. I'm not alone, 72% RT score ain't nothing to be ashamed about.
  • JBeans
    Seriously Alex you need to ease off the criticism of Redbelt. If you just want to see fighting then watch MMA. Redbelt was as much about not fighting as it was about fighting and it was an admirable direction to take the film in. If the only reason you are sour on Redbelt is because of the lack of fighting then something is wrong. The film was shot in impressive fashion and the acting was great (Tim Allen was a pleasant surprise). I would say more people would like an actual story like redbelt than just straight up brawling like a never back down.
  • JBeans
    By the way I am willing to bet Mamet knows a helluva lot more about this combat than you... he has researched jiu-jitsu for years and practices the combat as well.
  • Peloquin
    Yea, I gotta agree...I also enjoyed Redbelt, but could see why they had problems making money with it. It's hard to market a MMA film that doesn't involve many fighting sequences, but that doesn't make it a bad movie.
  • Fatal Error
    This movie sounds like it has potential, I just hope they hire on a few fighters or trainers as consultants to keep the fight scenes and terminology authentic looking/sounding. Tell Greg O'Connor that they should head over to Legend's Gym in Hollywood and talk to Eddie Bravo or Joe Rogan even.
  • Dusty
    I have to comment about your remarks about RedBelt as well... I felt it was a very interesting film with a terribly cheasy ending. Lotta fun to watch though. And honestly, I would not consider RedBelt an MMA film... it bombed cause very little interest in seeing MMA in the theatres unless live... I am a huge fan as well, but unless I am going there as part of a Broadcast special event in a theatre to see an IFC fight, the idea of them creating a movie out of it is giving me a deep stomach ache, nearly gagging cause these movies will continue to CHOKE. RedBelt was fun because of the character development, the MMA was just introduced as a means to push the story and ideals behind the training forward. It would have worked as an updated Karate Kid movie story, imagine Macchio in Chiwetel's place with the history of the Karate Kid movies. Story would have worked the same. Difference is None of this is about the fighting due to the ideals of the characters, it is about the turmoil of the characters and a final battle to resolve. I can already see how this O'Connor movie will play out.... """ SO my brother beat me up when I was younger, then I kicked has ass then we left our dad cause he was a prick... then we reconnected with each other and at the end had to FIGHT EACH OTHER... "" you know it will happen... ... GAG
  • http://notyou.com Not You
    redbelt is a masterpiece and i want more mma shit
  • Darunia
    Uao Alex. Redbelt is much much more than an MMA movie, it's a great story, wonderfully written, and talks to big themes, and the action happens only where it's actually necessary, and not gratuitous. It's funny, but truth is, probably, no MMA movie will ever actually be as good as Redbelt is.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Stefanzo - I'm amazed so many people are coming out defending Redbelt! Back when it came out in May and I saw it, I was writing about how downright terrible it was... And remarkably no one said anything then?! Anyway... the point is - I hated Redbelt. Mamet may be a good director, but you can't put MMA into a film and not actually use it?! The entire movie felt like it would lead up to something, then stop before it got there, and start over. It kept doing that over and over; a good build up, then never lead to anywhere. And that happened all the way through to the ending. The story wasn't even that great - it really had no solid resolution or worthy conclusion... Redbelt was really quite bad, so I've got to take a jab at it because I personally hated it.
  • http://notyou.com Not You
    i guess david lynch is not your thing too
  • Susie
    Funny Dusty --- Gavin & Greg O'Connor went to High School with Ralph Macchio.....
  • Erika Dolan
    E-mail-jedsusa@aol.com Gavin, I am the mother of Jim Dolan who you played football with while in John Glenn. Jim just told me today of your accomplishments and I just wanted to congratulate you. It is always so nice to hear when someone you know (and liked) is successful. Erika A. Dolan
  • http://mma-movie-star.movieset.com/ MovieSet
    So, not that these MMA movies (Never Surrender, Death Warrior) are gonna win any Oscars but they are giving you a chance to hang out with some MMA Legends and launch your acting career if you so choose to enter their contest. Video doesn't have to be good quality or slick at all just tell them why you should be an MMA Movie Star and you could be getting the free trip, movie role and a weekend with some MMA greats!
  • http://twitter.com/TaKimbia Ta Kimbia
    I took a screenwriting class in 2006. A guy in my class, Dimitris, was working on a script called Tapout. It was about 2 estranged brothers who meet in the octagon.

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