A couple of weeks ago, while watching a UFC fight, I noticed that one of the fighters
looked like a character from the old Nintendo game, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. The
resemblance was uncanny. Inspiration hit me to write a “Separated at Birth” article
for that fighter and the Punch Out character, but then I started matching other
people with Punch Out characters and decided to do the full cast. Unfortunately,
I am not so brilliant that I am the first person to think of this article and ran
into no less than five others with a quick Google search. But fuck it, I love the
idea, I love the video game, so I’m doing my own.
I am going to do a little role playing here. I am the casting director for Mike
Tyson’s Punch Out, a new summer blockbuster to come out in 2012—hopefully before
the world explodes that year. Below is my wishlist for the film cast.
Little Mac—Shia LeBeouf (Transformers, Disturbia): LeBeouf was the first name that
popped in my head when trying to find the perfect actor to play Little Mac. As hard
as I tried, I could not find a better fit. LeBeouf looks the part—he’s scrawny enough
to play an underdog fighter, but fit enough to somehow beat professional boxers
that outweigh him by over 50 pounds and make it seem plausible. Plus, the guy is
really funny. I could watch Disturbia a hundred times and parts of it
would still crack me
up. I know, there’s something seriously wrong with me. LeBeouf has starred in summer
blockbusters such as the two Transformers movies; he would play a similar role as
a smart, fast-talking, scatterbrained geek. He’ll look at the boxers in complete
awe (well the serious fighters anyway) and, through some act of God, pull out improbable
victory after improbable victory as he rises through the ranks of the World Video
Doc Louis—Craig Robinson (i>The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine): Robinson provides the
perfect counterpart to Little Mac. With his trademark understated brand of humor,
Doc would egg on Little Mac with a mix of sarcasm and seriousness. Doc is one of
my favorite characters in the cast. I see him as a former world champion that is
well past his prime and down on his luck. Doc used what little money he had left
to open a boxing gym and try his hand at coaching. It was there that he discovers
Little Mac, a 5-foot-nothing, 100-hundred-and-nothing pound kid who looks he belongs
in a frat house doing beer bongs rather than in a professional boxing ring. But
the kid has unbelievable punching power from somebody so small. And Little Mac can
take a hit—the best punchers in Doc’s upstart gym could hardly faze Little Mac.
Doc decides to take Little Mac to the Minor Circuit to see how he fares in prizefighting
and thus begins our story. I really like this character and see the story focusing
as much on Doc as on Little Mac, so it’s only fitting that one of my favorite actors,
Craig Robinson, plays the role.
GGlass Joe—Matthew Lillard (Scream, Hackers): Like Glass Joe, who sports a 1-99 professional
fighting record, Matthew Lillard is a one-hit wonder actor with his role in Scream.
Yes, he played roles in a ton of movies in the 90’s, but he always played the exact
same doofy character that nearly ruined every film he played in. I hated him in
Hackers, Wing Commander is the worst movie I ever saw in a theater, but
the stars aligned and somehow his shtick worked in Scream. Lillard is in his early
40’s now. All he would have to do is add a French accent to his old, doofy character
from the 90's; he would make an excellent Glass Joe who’s perhaps one loss away from hanging up
the gloves on a lackluster career.
Von Kaiser—Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down, Pineapple Express, Land of the Lost):
I took some artistic liberties with this casting. In Punch Out, Von Kaiser is in
great shape and can actually be a challenging fight for newbies. To anyone not playing
Punch Out for the first time, this guy is all bark, no bite, and has a really stupid
looking mustache. Danny McBride is one of my favorite comedy actors so his spot
on my cast was cemented; it was just a matter of finding a role to put him in. The
tough talking, superstar in his own world persona that McBride brings to the character
of Kenny Powers in HBO’s Eastbound and Down would make an awesome Von Kaiser. The
fact that McBride is out of shape and looks worn down would make Von Kaiser even
more hilarious. Von Kaiser is Kenny Powers. Minus the mullet.
Piston Honda—Rain (Ninja Assassin, Speed Racer): This was the most difficult role
to cast. My original thought was Jason Scott Lee, who played Bruce Lee in Dragon:
The Bruce Lee Story. I guess I didn’t realize how old that movie was because Jason
Scott Lee is now in his mid 40’s and looks at least 10 years too old to play Piston
Honda. I went through a ton of names and scoured the internet for the perfect Piston
Honda. If my wife looked at my browser history, she’d probably think I have a gay
fetish for “muscular Japanese actors.” I was going to go with Ken Watanabe from
Last Samurai, who is one of my favorite actors, but he’s over 50. Finally, I settled
on Rain who starred as Raizo in Ninja Assassin. Yes, he goes by the name of Rain.
I suppose it helped his case that his name got the Beatles song “Rain” stuck in
my head while I searched for a Piston Honda. That’s kind of like George Costanza
using the “By Mennen” jingle to get his name in the head of a chick. “Caaaah-stanza!”
Rain’s character in Ninja Assassin has the same ferocity that needs to be brought
to Piston Honda, who is the only serious boxer Little Mac faces in the early stages
of his career.
Don Flamenco—Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall):
needs to have a certain charisma where he thinks he’s the shit with the ladies and,
for some bizarre reason, there are chicks who buy into it. Who better than Russell
Brand to play this role? Face it, the guy has charm. I watched in total awe as he
easily wrapped up some chick interviewing him for his latest film, Get Him To The Greek.
He’s got skillz. It’s that charm that makes him a great Don Flamenco, a boxer who
dances with a rose between his teeth before each fight and is almost more interested
in impressing the ladies than fighting the next fight. Don Flamenco is also one
of the scrawniest looking fighters in the game, making the twig-like Russell Brand
an even better pick. A couple of other Punch Out castings that I saw had Adam Sandler
in this role. I gotta hand it to them, his face is a dead-on match and he’d be hilarious,
but the dude has put on too much pudge to pull this role off.
King Hippo—Ralphie May (Comedian): I have seen a couple of other lists
try to cast Punch Out: The Movie and they all seem to be in agreement
that Butterbean is the perfect King Hippo. If this casting were being made 10-15
years ago, I might be more apt to agree, but I think in 2010 this role has to go
to comedian, Ralphie May. This guy is one of the funniest comedians today and he
easily talks shit with the best of them, bringing a whole new aspect to King
Hippo by making him gloriously hateable. King Hippo was one of Captain
N: The Game Master’s biggest villains—we’re supposed to hate him. Butterbean
is just too easy to root for; the audience might even turn on Little Mac and
pull for the bad guy. Ralphie May, with his sharp-tongued, playa-wannabe
inflections, will talk nonstop shit until Little Mac finally punches him square
in the mouth causing his shorts to fall down.
Great Tiger—Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar, Van Wilder): Facing Great Tiger was always a harrowing
experience for me. That absurd special move where he disappears and starts looping
around the ring always made me nervous. If your timing was just slightly off, it
was Game Over—if you wasted a loss on this guy, you might as well just start
over. This character was Indian, and one of the funniest Indian actors around is
Kal Penn. I wanted this guy to be a little more serious because I was kind of scared
of him when I played the game, so I was looking at actors such as Sendhil Ramamurthy
from Heroes. But come on, the dude wears a turban with a jewel that lights up to
telegraph his punches. This has to be someone you can laugh at.
Bald Bull—Quenton “Rampage” Jackson (UFC Fighter): Just like in the game, here’s
this is where it gets real. After fighting a bunch of clowns and making his way
through the Minor and Major circuits, it’s time for Little Mac to grow up in real
hurry. Bald Bull was a complete bitch to fight against in the game. He was huge,
looked scary, and could beat your ass down with the slightest misstep—even veteran
Punch Out players could slip up and end up on the mat against him. Bald Bull was
menacing and there is no one that I can think of who can appear more menacing than
Rampage Jackson. The guy’s ring entrance is the most intimidating one in the UFC.
He has had opponents, such as Chuck Liddell, already beaten before they even stepped
into the octagon.
The beginning of this fight is the one scene I can easily envision from my take
on the movie. Against all odds, LeBouf as Little Mac has survived the competition
of the Major Circuit to become the #1 contender for the belt. He enters the ring
awestruck by the huge audience, a crowd more than a thousand times larger than any
of his prior matches. Little Mac’s shoulders slump as he wonders how he will make
it past this next battle. Maybe the experts are right. Maybe he only won his previous
fights due to an extreme case of good luck. Or maybe the fact the he had made it
this far is proof that the competition in the Major Circuit is a joke nowadays.
Bald Bull would be the one to bring this kid back to Earth—and it wouldn’t be pretty.
Overcoming the pre-fight jitters, Little Mac tries to push all the negative press
he received to the back of his mind. If it was luck, maybe his good fortunes would
continue through this fight as well! Why would it stop now? He had his doubts that
he even belonged in this match, but he had already beaten fighters the size of Bald
Bull. He took their best punches and survived; this guy’s punches couldn’t possibly
be harder than King Hippo’s. This one’s in the bag!
The lights in the boxing arena dim. Eagerly awaiting the entrance of one of the
most feared fighters in boxing, the crowd falls completely silent for the first
time all evening. The fireworks explode, strobe lights flicker all throughout the
arena, rap music blares through the loudspeakers. Rampage Jackson as Bald Bull slowly
strolls through the smoke filled entry ramp into the arena. The crowd erupts, but
Bald Bull doesn’t give one shit about anyone in the arena except for the pencil-necked
runt standing in the ring. Bald Bull must mow down this chump before he can make
a run at Mike Tyson. He plans to make an example of Little Mac to give Tyson something
to think about—after all, Tyson ain’t the only bad motherfucker in boxing. Bald
Bull’s mouth hangs slightly open revealing his white mouthguard as he walks to the boxing
ring, making him look like a starved pit bull about to maul some easy prey. Bald
Bull’s eyes focus solely on Little Mac as if they are the only two people standing
in the building.
Little Mac stops joking with Doc for a second and his eyes find the dead serious
stare of Bald Bull. This one’s for real! The easygoing, what-me-worry smile instantly
vanishes from Little Mac’s face and his eyes dart to the safety of the ring floor.
His heart thuds like a bass drum. Beads of sweat swell on his forehead and run down
his face. He knows the entire arena can smell his fear, see his heart pounding out
of his chest. He wonders if this whole journey was nothing but a huge joke at his
expense. This was how it would all end. He was minutes away from being immortalized
on ESPN Sportscenter as a complete farce, getting knocked the fuck out in mere
seconds. He was going to be the butt of every joke, forever a wimp, the guy outclassed
and whipped by a far superior opponent. He was Michael Spinks. This was fight or
flight and Little Mac was leaning heavily towards flight. He flinches towards the
closest way out of the ring. Doc, sensing Little Mac’s thoughts, grabs his shoulder
and squeezes hard.
“Don’t let that fool look at you like that. Give that stinkeye right back to him,
now” says Doc. “You’ll be ‘ight.”
Doc wondered if even he believed this bullshit that just came out of his mouth.
But the tension that had built up in Little Mac’s shoulders almost completely eased.
Little Mac’s expression shifts to that of a hardened gladiator. He focuses a chilling
glare of his own right back into the ferocious eyes of Bald Bull. This is gonna
be one for the ages.
Soda Popinski—Keith Jardine (UFC Fighter): Jardine was actually the guy who inspired
me to write this article. The guy is the spitting image of Soda Popinski. Same craggy
face, same bald head. Jardine would need to add a little facial hair, but the look
is right there. They both have the most awkward looking fighting stances and punches
that I have ever seen. And they’re both tough as nails and capable of beating damn
near anyone who faces them. This is a match made in Heaven.
Mr. Sandman—Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (WWE Wrestler, Get Smart): Outside of Mike
Tyson, the one fighter in Punch Out that always scared me the most was Sandman.
When I saw his face pop up as the next fight, my heart would literally start racing
because I knew that the odds were pretty strong that I was about to get my ass kicked.
This guy owned me for months and was my usual stopping point where I’d tuck my tail
between my legs and run away after getting obliterated. Sandman had some quality
smack talk in the game with lines like “Bedtime for Little Mac,” “I think you’re
gonna have a nightmare tonite,” and “Welcome to dreamland, baby!” There is no one
better at bringing the smack than The Rock. He wouldn’t even have to act, he would
just have to be The Rock from his WWE days and he makes a great Mr. Sandman.
Super Macho Man—Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler): The Macho
Man is a bit of a conundrum.
On the one hand, he’s listed as 27 years old. On the other, he has gray hair and
looks more like an old pro wrestler entering the twilight of his career. I’m going
with the latter. Mickey Rourke’s character, Randy “The Ram” Robinson, from The Wrestler
is the exactly who I want for Super Macho Man. All Rourke would have to do is dye
his hair gray and he’s the spitting image of the Macho Man. Of course, his
character would have to be much less run down and in the dumps than he was in
The Wrestler—we're talking about the current World Champion here. Plus, Mickey Rourke
brings a little legitimacy to the role having a small stint as a professional boxer
20 years ago.
Mike Tyson—Jamie Foxx (Ray, Jarhead): I was tempted to just put Mike Tyson here
and call it a day saying nobody can play this role better than him. But he has that
godawful face tattoo that would cost a small fortune to remove from each frame that
he appears in. Plus, did you see him in The Hangover? I could almost mistake him
for George Foreman if not for the face tattoo, which may explain why he got it in
the first place. In the game, Mike Tyson is in his Kid Dynamite boxing phase as
the youngest man to ever hold the heavyweight title. I needed someone who could
pull off a fighter in his early twenties that looked as badass as Mike Tyson. Unfortunately,
I couldn’t find anyone in that age bracket who I thought could both harness the
intimidation and the look
of Mike Tyson, so I went with Jamie Foxx. The guy may be in his early 40’s, but he
can easily look about 15 years younger with a little work. Plus, he’s a one of the
best actors today and kind of resembles Iron Mike. He needs to ditch that smile
though for this role.
In the 80’s, Tyson almost literally had his opponents pissing in their boxing shorts
when he walked to the ring in his black shorts, sockless black shoes, ripped towel
and faded haircut—an homage he paid to the legendary champion, Jack Dempsey. He
was a ferocious fighter in real life and perhaps even more intimidating in the game
Punch Out. One false twitch in the opening minutes of the fight and you’re done.
Out like a light. Beating Mike Tyson was one of my greatest achievements in video
games; it took years for me to accomplish the feat. Mike Tyson said that he wants
Jamie Foxx to play him if they ever make a movie about him. Hey Mike, I’m here for