Pro wrestling has always tended toward exaggeration and/or spectacle, and World Wrestling Entertainment makes its money being as lowbrow and over-the-top as possible. A midget in a green suit is considered to be the bastard son of company schlockmeister Vince McMahon, a big man in a black hat has vague supernatural powers and another big man with no hair or eyebrows can make fire come out of ringposts. WWE makes no apologies for its knowing stupidity.

Trying to base films around its wrestlers, though, is another matter. WWE Films brought the world the litany of explosions that was The Marine, and star John Cena is making a second attempt to cross over from wrestling into the world of film stardom. Pro Wrestling Torch, among other wrestling sites, has announced that 12 Rounds is in pre-production. Filming is to begin in New Orleans, Louisiana later this month, although this site lists February 25 as the start date.

The surprising thing about this news is that Renny Harlin, director of Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Cliffhanger, is listed on 12 Rounds‘ IMDb page as director/producer. Granted, Harlin’s career hasn’t fully recovered from Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight, but he’s still a recognizable name. The film has a projected release date of September 5, 2008 and will be distributed through Fox Atomic.

I foresee the standard reaction to this film judging by trends set since WWE Films’ first independently-produced film, 2006’s See No Evil – “why is WWE still doing this?,” little box office, a modest profit made via DVD sales/rentals and critical drubbing. For 12 Rounds, I also foresee tons of explosions.

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