If there's one thing you can count on, it's a Vin Diesel movie being a huge spectacle full of high-octane action and explosions. xXx 3: The Return of Xander Cage, which is supposed to be released next year, will be no exception. Especially if you ask one of the film's stars, #4 UFC middleweight contender Michael Bisping.
"Don’t be worried it’s gonna be absolutely amazing," says Bisping. The last thing fans of the series should be is worried. It is after all, the return of Vin Diesel to a series he left before it was an actual series. Diesel passed on xXx 2: State of the Union because he had just filmed the sequel to his surprise 2000 hit, Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick. Diesel was quoted as "not wanting to film back-to-back sequels." The franchise star also passed on starring in 2 Fast to Furious and only had a cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Diesel would return to the franchise with the fourth film in the series and the rest would be box office gold.
As for xXx, Diesel's character, Xander Cage, was killed off in a short film, The Death of Xander Cage, starring his stunt double, Khristian Lupo. The film appeared on the Director's Cut DVD of the first xXx and acted as a bridge between the first film and its sequel where Ice Cube filled in for the titular character xXx.
Unfortunately the sequel suffered a lackluster response at the box office. Originally, had Cube's sequel been successful, the plan was to hang the franchise on a different xXx each time. Poor box office results killed that idea along with killing the franchise. It's been over a decade since the xXx has graced the screen and with the return of its star, we can expect the sequel to be bigger than ever.
"The stuff we’re doing … its an action movie. It’s a high quality action movie," said Bisping. "The budget on this thing is ridiculous." While the details of the budget have been kept under wraps by its studio, Paramount, it's easy to assume that the budget has skyrocketed since the last xXx outing. The original xXx had a budget of 85 million, while its non-Diesel sequel came in at a reported 105 million. It's safe to say that the third outing will have an even bigger budget namely because of Diesel's return to the franchise.
In the time he's been away from the series, Diesel has built himself up to be one of the most bankable action stars in the world thanks mostly due to his return to his other HUGELY successful franchise, The Fast and the Furious. The original 2001 film had a estimated budget of 38 million, while the last film in the series, Furious 7, had an estimated budget of 190 million. Needless to say, we can expect xXx 3: The Return of Xander Cage can expect a similar type budget, an idea that's echoed simply by Bisping, "It's got a large budget."
While xXx 3 marks the return of its star and original cast member Samuel L. Jackson, it'll have a new director at its helm. The series will be taken over by DJ Caruso who got his start behind the camera with TV shows such as Dark Angel, Smallville and The Shield but found big-screen success with 2007's Disturbia, a re-imagining of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Rear Window. Caruso returned in 2008 with another hit, Eagle Eye. Caruso is no stranger to big budget action as he has been long rumored to be taking the reigns of the G.I. Joe franchise.
According to Bisping, he's more than confident that Caruso is going to deliver something special for action movie fans. "Stuff the director DJ is pulling off is incredible," said Bisping. "It’s going to be very visual for the eyes. Lot of action. A lot of incredible stuff."
If anyone would know, it's Bisping, who won't be playing a small little role, a role that was originally slated to be played by UFC featherweight champion and superstar, Conor McGregor. "Everybody thinks I’m going to be some guy getting blown up in the background," Bisping told Champions.co creator RJ Clifford. "But I have a really, really good part. I play a key character, if you will. I don’t want to spoil the plot and get sued by the studio. But I certainly play a key role in the movie."
A key role that not only puts him in direct contact with Caruso, but the film's star, Vin Diesel. "He’s just an awesome guy. He’s a massive, massive fight fan so we had that in common so that really helped break the ice," Bisping spoke of his co-star. "The first day I was on set we spent an hour chit chatting about fights and everybody was like ‘Vince, we better get moving’ and he’s like ‘No.’ And he’s talking about the latest stuff in the UFC.”
Diesel isn't one to hide his love for the UFC and those who fight in it. He can often be seen cage side and in photos with the UFC's elite.
It's this love of the UFC that has caused Diesel, who acts as executive producer on most of his films, to cast former and current stars of the UFC in his other films. Gina Carano played a "key role" in 2013's Fast & Furious 6 and former UFC women's bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, has a small part in the follow-up Furious 7.
xXx 3: The Return of Xander Cage is slated for release January 20, 2017 and stars Vin Diesel, Samuel L. Jackson, Tony Jaa, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev and of course, Michael Bisping. The DJ Caruso directed film will be released by Paramount and the film's original production company, Revolution Studios, who hasn't produced a film since 2007's The Water Horse.
It'll be a delight to, not only see Vin Diesel return to the role that arguably solidified his place as an action film star, but the kind of spectacle that has come to be expected with a xXx film. Something that is supported by Bisping, "The things that we’re doing everyday is kind of crazy, so if you enjoy action movies you’re going to love this.”