Hollywood! Adapt This: PUNCH-OUT!!

     July 28, 2013


This week’s adaptation news saw classic Jean-Claude Van Damme movies Bloodsport and Kickboxer both headed for reboots.  Take this news and the fact that this year’s Grudge Match (due out this Christmas) will pit Raging Bull’s Robert De Niro against Rocky’s Sylvester Stallone, and it got me to thinking about other fighting movies that are due for a reboot … or in the case of this week’s installment, fighting games.  Nintendo’s original fighting game may not have been the first of its kind, but it’s certainly one of the longest lasting.  It’s high time for it to see a big-screen treatment as well.  Hit the jump to find out more.  Hollywood! Adapt this: Punch-Out!!

punch-outWhat It’s About:

Brought to the Nintendo Entertainment System home console in 1987 (after a successful arcade run for a few years), Punch-Out!! centered on the player’s character, Little Mac.  A pint-sized fighter with a heart of gold, Little Mac must take on a number of colorful opponents in the boxing ring with the goal of becoming the World Champion of the World Video Boxing Association.  In his corner is trainer, Jerome “Doc” Louis, who provides advice, anecdotes and gives Little Mac access to his most powerful move, the uppercut Star Punch.

Standing in Mac’s way are increasingly-difficult opponents, such as Glass Joe, Von Kaiser, Piston Honda, Don Flamenco, King Hippo, Bald Bull, Soda Popinski and Great Tiger.  The toughest fighters Little Mac faces are Super Macho Man, Mr. Sandman and the final boss, Mr. Dream (or Mike Tyson).  It also features a familiar mustachioed referee who mumbles out the knockout count.

How Could / Why Should It Be Adapted?

Punch-Out!! is a quintessential underdog story as Little Mac was originally as laughably small as his opponents were superhumanly monstrous.  While an adaptation that played Punch-Out!! straight could be done well, to do so would be missing out on the goofy nature of the game.  Now, something along the line of a Scott Pilgrim vs the World or even a Real Steel … that’d be something I’d like to see.  Taking an under-sized, under-powered human in a boxing tournament against super-sized and superhuman opponents would also be an interesting commentary on the rampant run of blockbuster movies that focus exclusively on superheroes.

Shall we talk casting for a moment?  While I’d love to see a new up-and-comer take on the role of Little Mac, that lead would probably have to land a pretty big name in order to get a green light.  Mark Wahlberg springs to mind, even if he’s done this sort of work before (Invincible, The Fighter).  His rapport with green screen monstrosities will be tested during his current work on Michael Bay’s Untitled Transformers Sequel, but I’d wager he could hash it out in the ring with a CG bruiser any day.  As for who would play “Doc” Louis, I’ll let the internets battle it out between Leslie David Baker (The Office) and Reginald VelJohnson (Family Matters).

punch-out-little-macThe Final Word:

It’s unfortunate that a well-crafted/directed/acted movie like Gavin O’Connor’s 2011 MMA film, Warrior, did so poorly at the box office.  It remains to be seen whether or not JCVD reboots have the draw that studios are banking on, or if De Niro and Stallone will be duking it out to an empty arena.  It’s time for a bold voice with an original take on a fighting movie to give audiences something they haven’t seen before; an adaptation of Punch-Out!! could very well be that opportunity.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game, check out one player’s half-hour conquest of every match below.  Also, be sure to head over to Nintendo’s page, which will bring you up to speed on Punch-Out!! and also features a new version of the classic theme song which seems tailor-made for a movie score.

Be sure to tune in to Hollywood! Adapt This next week when we tackle another overlooked property ripe for adaptation.


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