As some of you who know me personally (or follow me on social media) may know, I seriously love both martial arts movies and mixed martial arts. And even if you don’t go full fanboy on those two topics like I do, chances are you’ve heard of Iko Uwais and Ronda Rousey.
Uwais burst onto the scene in a whirlwind of breathless violence in Gareth Evans’ spectacular Indonesian martial arts epics The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2: Berandal, in which he both starred and served as action choreographer. His incredible skills have caught the attentions of Hollywood, with JJ Abrams even casting him in a significant, unrevealed role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Rousey was a record-breaking, Olympic-medal winning judo practitioner who made the seamless transition to mixed martial arts a few years back. Thanks to an incredible unbeaten streak, she is not only the current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, but is probably the most dominant female athlete in the history of women’s MMA. And with her fighting prowess and very easy-on-the-eye looks, Hollywood has come calling to her as well. She made her debut in last year’s The Expendables 3 (making a much better impression, it must be said, than fellow MMA fighter turned actress Gina Carano in her debut), and will soon be seen in Furious 7 as well as the Entourage movie, not to mention having recently signed for a potential franchise starter in WB’s The Athena Project.
And now the two blazing action stars will be teaming up! Variety reports that the duo will be co-starring in Mile 22, a new action thriller that is being produced by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, The Kingdom, Hancock). The film “explores the relationship between a CIA field officer and an Indonesian police officer forced to work together as they confront violent and extreme political corruption”. Berg – who at this point is not signed on to direct as well, but one can hope – expressed his excitement on working with the two rapidly rising young actors on a movie like this.
“I am a huge fan of what Gareth (Evans) and Iko did on both ‘Raid’ films, and I’m very excited at the possibility of working with Ronda and Iko to create a film in the spirit of this new wave of combat cinema emerging from Indonesia. Ronda and Iko will be a very unique and powerful team.”
I’ve long been a critic of female action stars with supermodel looks who seem so frail that a stiff breeze could possibly dislocate their shoulders, and yet on-screen they’re jumping around knocking out 300-pound gorrila-men with a single punch. With Rousey and Carano (and, I must admit, a handful of established female stars), we’re seeing Hollywood finally casting actresses who believably look like they can kick serious ass, because they actually can. And as I mentioned previously, I was quite impressed with her in Expendables 3, a movie that admittedly didn’t exactly stretch her acting skills to the limit, but at least she didn’t have me groaning inwardly like Carano did in Haywire.
With Rousey’s potential, and with Uwais’ action star credentials needing no introduction, should Berg take the directing reins as well then this will definitely be something for action movie fans to keep an eye out for in the future.
Last Updated: March 4, 2015