It’s not easy to out-charisma Kevin James, who has made a career of playing nice, non-threatening guys who manage to get the girl and save the day. But in “Here Comes the Boom,” Bas Rutten steals the show.
Rutten plays Niko, a former MMA fighter who trains James’ character, biology teacher Scott Voss, as an MMA fighter so Voss can raise money to save the music program at his school. Rutten has several funny scenes in the movie, as he also teaches yoga and several other classes at the local gym.
Oh, and Rutten sings during the movie, and his voice gives you a glimpse of why he went into MMA and not singing.
Rutten is a former UFC champion, an ex-Pancrase champion and finished his MMA career with a record of 28-4-1. He was forced to retire in 1999 after injuring his neck in training. His character in the film also had to retire because of a neck injury.
But how did he turn an MMA career into a role in a major motion picture?
“Joe Rogan and I were doing standup comedy together and we started watching Pancrase and we saw Bas Rutten in Japan with all his fights,” James said. Rogan is a UFC commentator and a fellow comedian. “We were watching this crazy dude with the knee-high boots and the bald head doing all these flips in the ring and knocking people out. We were laughing at this guy, like this guy was insane. We would watch him as much as we could.”
That led to a meeting between James and Rutten.
“He’s just a great guy, a great friend, and that was kind of what inspired me all along to start making a movie to incorporate that,” James said, “showing the human side of this sport that I just respect, that I wouldn’t do necessarily, but I respect so much.”