From the face of women's MMA to the newest lead actress in Hollywood, Strikeforce's Gina Carano can now be known as one of only a few athletes from the sport to have successfully crossed over onto the big screen. Carano joins the likes of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Cung Le and Randy Couture, among others, who have put their MMA talents to use in the movie industry.
Carano plays the lead role in Steven Soderbergh's new action film Haywire, which follows a highly trained operative named Mallory Kane (Carano) who works for a company that takes on extremely dangerous assignments that the government cannot authorize.
While on a mission overseas, Mallory is double-crossed by her own agency and has to fight to stay alive while attempting to learn the truth about why she was the intended victim of an attempted murder.
Carano stars alongside Hollywood mainstays Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Ewan McGregor. She even engages in a passionate kiss with heartthrob Channing Tatum.
The film itself is not without its quirks as is to be expected when an actress is taking on her first lead role, but Carano delivers quite a performance given her lack of experience. The MMA superstar shows off her real-life fighting skills, utilizing her kickboxing and jiu jitsu in a series of intense hand-to-hand battles throughout the film.
While other films have rather unsuccessfully attempted to include MMA-style fighting, Soderbergh's Haywire might have finally hit the nail on the head with Carano utilizing everything from guillotine and triangle chokes to a violent armbar that successfully snaps a main character's arm in half.
The choreography of the fight scenes in this film are about as good as we have seen in recent memory. While other movies with strong female leads have included fight scenes in the past, Carano brings a strong sense of realism to the screen.
At no point does the audience roll their eyes due to the unrealistic nature of a fight scene, yet somehow Haywire still delivers the same intensity as the more exaggerated action films.
Despite early comparisons to The Bourne Identity series, Haywire isn't a remake of the successful series starring Matt Damon. Instead, it is its own unique blend of an action-thriller that simply just works.
It's not time for Angelina Jolie to move over quite yet, but with a little polishing, Gina Carano could have herself a generous-paying second career if she does decide to hang up the gloves in Strikeforce.
Check out Ms. Carano as she talks Haywire and a few fictional celebrity fights with Bleacher Report's Desi Sanchez on the set of BR5.