It's a while since we've heard anything from maverick director Abel Ferrara. There have been documentaries and below-the-radar features in the last few years, but his highest profile moment lately was probably his attempted Cannes spat with Werner Herzog (where Ferrara wished death on those involved with the new Bad Lieutenant, and Herzog was delighted and offered to go drinking wth him).
But Ferrara appears to be flirting with the mainstream for a change, as this week sees the start of shooting on the action thriller Game of Death, reuniting the director with star Wesley Snipes.
Similarities with the ropey posthumous Bruce Lee film from 1978 end at the title: Variety describes the plot as involving "a politician's bodyguard who must fend off five of the world's top assassins". Zoe Bell and Robert Davi are co-starring.
Sounds interchangeable with any one of Snipes' recent straight-to-DVD efforts, which makes the involvement of Ferrara puzzling. Ferrara directed the original Bad Lieutenant and its brilliant spiritual follow-ups The Funeral and The Addiction, as well as King of New York, where Snipes played a cop going up against a ghoul-like Christopher Walken (remember the glory days when Walken was more than stunt casting?).
So what's he playing at here? Maybe it's a favour for Snipes, still beleaguered by those tax issues, although he remains free to work and travel on bail while his appeal is being considered. Or maybe Ferrara wants to raise his profile pending the completion and release of his modern-day Jekyll and Hyde, which stars Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent.
Or maybe, just maybe, he felt like taking the money for once.