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Pro soccer player turned sneering action star Vinnie Jones has played a number of memorable tough guys, from Snatch's Bullet-Tooth Tony to X-Men: The Last Stand's unstoppable Juggernaut. But with his latest project, Jones will offer no smirking badass bon mots. Instead, he will play it straight and solemn in the ensemble war drama The 34th Battalion.
The Australian production penned by father-son team Ian and Luke Sparke will focus on four friends from rural New South Wales who enlist in the army following the catastrophic Gallipoli campaign of World War I. Deadline reports Jones will play the British Lieutenant-Colonel who led the titular band of soldiers, and American actor Stephen Lang (Avatar) will play a U.S. officer. The pair join a cast that includes Luke Hemsworth (brother of Chris and Liam Hemsworth), Emilie de Ravin (Brick), Charles Mesure (Desperate Housewives), Les Hill and Andrew Lees of Rescue Special Ops, Claire van der Boom (Hawaii Five-0), Tony Bonner (Quigley Down Under, and Vince Colosimo (Body of Lies).
Luke Sparke, who worked in costuming and wardrobe on war dramas like the HBO mini-series The Pacific and the documentary Singapore 1942 End of Empire will be making his directorial debut on the feature. His background suggests he will have a keen eye for historical accuracy, while the cast promises a batch of gritty and passionate performances. Meaning the film should prove hard-hitting to the Aussie audience for which it is intended.
The 34th Battalion boasts a $20 million budget, and should roll into production this summer in Wauchope, New South Whales, Australia.