Unrivaled: Mixed Marital Arts and Underdog Heroism

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CANADA (Sasha Stoltz Publicity): Unrivaled is the latest film from co-writer and director Warren Sonoda, marking a return to going the distance, mixed marital arts, and underdog heroism made famous by Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme back in the mid-70s through the mid-1990s with the Rocky series, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and Lionheart. Shot in fourteen days, the film features some of the best UFC fighters in the world that includes Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Forrest Griffin, and Nate Marqurdt, along with well-known veteran actors Nicholas Campbell (DaVinci’s Inquest), Al Sapienza (The Sopranos, Brotherhood), and writer/director Jordan Hawley (50 Ways to Leave Your Lover).

“Nicholas and Jordan helped the fighters improve their acting. It raised the level of their performances” Warren states.

His resume includes directing music videos and comedies like 2004’s Ham & Cheese like Mutant X‘s Victoria Pratt, 2006’s 5ive Girls with Hellboy himself Ron Perlman, and the upcoming romantic comedy Textuality, an e-date version of You’ve Got Mail with Jason Lewis (Sex & The City, Charmed), Carly Pope (Popular, The Collector, 24), and Eric McCormack (Will & Grace, Trust Me).

He and star Hector Echavarria wrote Unrivaled in the story of a young man setting out to defeat the champion of the MMA in honor of his late mother, a fellow underground champion that died when he was a little boy.

“The biggest inspiration for me is The Wrestler and Rocky Balboa” Warren said. “We’re going to do film festivals, and for mixed martial arts, it’ll be found on DVD. We’re slowly rolling out theaters in the festival circuit. The one thing we wanted to do with Unrivaled is not take ourselves too seriously; there are some funny moments. I think a lot of fight fans will dig it.”

ReelWorld Film Festival (RWFF) celebrates cultural diversity in the Film industry. 2010 is a milestone year for ReelWorld, for the past decade the festival has delivered groundbreaking films from diverse communities to a broad spectrum of Toronto audiences. This year’s five day line-up (April 7-11) that takes place in Toronto continues to support films from the Aboriginal, Asian, Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian and other multi-racial communities, and promises to surpass the standards set in previous years.

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Garrett Godwin is an entertainment journalist, who writes for NewsBlaze about television and people in the entertainment industry, from his home state of Michigan. Contact Garrett by writing to NewsBlaze.