Gavin O'Connor Developing MMA Film Titled Warriors
by Alex Billington
September 10, 2008
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?