Former world heavyweight champion and Muslim convert Mike Tyson is reportedly heading to Oran, Algeria, in September to take part in the country’s first martial arts film, “Algeria Forever”.
The action movie, along the lines of “Rambo,” tells the story of the Organization of the Secret Army (OIS), a group that fought to keep Algeria from gaining independence from France.
French director Jean-Marc Mineo intentionally picked Oran as his location, and not just because of the film’s topic.
“I find it is a very interesting mix of cultures and has equally beautiful architecture,” he told L’Expression. “Oran suits me perfectly, I want to get to know Algeria through this action film.”
Mineo has brought in a team of Thai actors and stuntmen to help with the action and adventure of the movie. In addition to bringing their expertise to the film, they will be training about a dozen Algerians in their techniques.
While Algeria has provided the location for films including “The Stranger,” “Algiers” and “Patton,” it is not a traditional go-to for the film industry. That list pales in comparison to that of its Moroccan neighbor, or even Libya, where Saadi Gadhafi was working to bring the film industry before his father was ousted.
As for Mike Tyson, whose mere mention has garnered international attention for this Algerian project, it is still not clear what role he will be playing. He will reportedly play alongside French singer Lorie, who will work outside her comfort zone in this film, as well as an Algerian comedian.
“It is for this reason I agreed to play the role,” he told L’Expression.
Bahia Rachedi, another very popular and ubiquitous Algerian actress, is also being featured in the film. She has been known for her roles in famous Ramadan soap operas as well as several movies, including “Rachida” in 2002, which was screened at major European festivals.
In a recent interview with DZeriet, a leading Algerian magazine, she spoke of the need to expand Algeria’s presence in the film industry. She lamented that there is not enough work to go around for everyone and said she limits her own jobs to provide space for others.
The news of Tyson’s role in the film broke on the heels of his public confession in August that he is indeed still struggling with drugs and alcohol. The man who infamously bit the ear of an opponent had reconstructed his image in 2011 with a reality show that focused on his clean and sober life.