Frank Grillo Trains Nick Jonas To Kick Ass In Trailer For DirecTV's MMA Drama Kingdom

If you thought boxing and professional wrestling were the only rough-and-tumble sports with drama to spare, brace yourself for Kingdom’s octagon full of angst and turmoil. Sure, there was Gavin O’Connor’s 2011 Warrior, but we’re talking about DirecTV’s new drama, which is about two MMA fighter brothers who have get over their issues with each other, as well as the ones with their dad. Okay, so that sounds a lot like Warrior, but Frank Grillo stars in this one. Yeah, he was in Warrior, too, but…You get where I’m going here.

Luckily, Kingdom’s first trailer doesn’t present viewers with a carbon copy of that film, teasing a darker and more low-key story, perhaps with an eye on something larger down the road. Frank Grillo stars as former MMA superstar Alvey Kulina, who is spending his ring retirement as a trainer and owner of a gym in Venice, California. Violence is in his bloodline, albeit in different forms. One of his sons, Nate, is played by Nick Jonas (of all people), and he's the do-right athlete, climbing his way to greatness one chiseled muscle at a time. Jonathan Tucker (Parenthood) plays the older brother, who has let rampant delinquency get in the way of his potential legacy. The heaviest hands in this trailer belong to Joanna Going, who plays Christina, the boys’ homeless and substance abusing mother. Maybe it’ll be super dramatic, I don’t know.

Still, though. Nick Jonas, huh? Okay. I'm sold for now.


Then there’s a scruffled Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights) as a former star currently on parole and trying to make it back into the circuit. Rounding out the cast is Kiele Sanchez (The Glades), who plays Alvey’s current girlfriend, who looks just as caught up in the world of fighting as everyone else. She and Alvey apparently aren’t doing all that well financially, so expect that to play into some of the emotional distress.

It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but I’m a fan of the MMA world and I have to appreciate any new series that doesn’t just fall into “cop drama” and “hospital drama.” I’d really be behind Grillo getting his own Rocky story in this setting. He was a beast in the otherwise not-very-beastly The Purge: Anarchy, and kind of deserves to kick a few more faces before hanging it up to play trainer roles. Maybe he’ll have to stop a robbery in one episode, and he throws the crook through a wall of drink coolers. I’d like that.

You can find the first of Kingdom’s 10-episode first season when it debuts on DirecTV’s Audience Network on Wednesday, October 8. Leave your big foam fingers in the closet.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.