Stephen Soderbergh must have deep faith in MMA fighter Gina Carano, the unusual lead of his spy thriller Knockout - because he’s throwing her straight into the deep end. No time for baby steps or arm-band assisted paddling lessons, it’s sink or swim.

Not only will she be tested so physically that even as an experienced fighter she has had to train and bulk up for two months exclusively for the part but her barely noteworthy acting experience will be going toe-to-toe with Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Dennis Quaid and British man of the moment Michael Fassbender, according to The Playlist.

We haven’t seen a female actress tested like this since Quentin Tarantino put Uma Thurman through the gauntlet on Kill Bill (don’t worry too much about her too much though – she’s already knocked out one stunt guy during test filming!)

It’s also interesting to note that Soderbergh has so much faith in Carano and his talents as a film-maker that he has waived an upfront fee from Relativity Media and Lionsgate in order to retain ownership himself and carve out a wage from the movie’s profits. He’s also got eight months to shoot, edit and complete the picture as Lionsgate want it out by August!

The Playlist who have a pretty detailed scoop claim that Lem Dobbs’ (The Limey, Kafka) script has changed somewhat from it’s original girl “from the wrong side of the tracks” who has a second chance to put her life long skills to a better use premise, and now comes out something like this…

Ultimately, “Knockout” is now more of a revenge action-spy thriller. Essentially it’s hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and especially one who kicks serious ass. Double crossed by someone on her own team, Mallory Kane (Carano)— a black ops super soldier — seeks to uncover who has set her up to take the fall for a job that goes bad and involves a murder.

Carano’s Kane character is now the opposite of a girl from the “wrong side of the tracks.” She’s now from a solid background and was raised around military honor and academia. She leaves the military to go to work for a Blackwater-esque company to make better money and then is eventually betrayed by one of her teammates.

Previously Soderbergh had likened the movie to La Femme Nikita, the Bourne movies, From Russia With Love, and John Boorman’s Point Blank (’67 movie with Lee Marvin).

David Holmes (Ocean’s movies, Out of Sight) will compose.

Here’s the cast again, now with some visual aid…

Fassbender (his role was written especially with him in mind) and another potential big name male actor (Playlist can’t say who) play members of her spy unit.

Michael Douglas will play a Government figure – think Brian Cox and Chris Cooper in the Bourne movies, we are told.

McGregor’s role is that of the owner who runs the Blackwater private military company-type group.

Dennis Quaid will be playing… well actually they don’t say.

Soderbergh has that fire in his belly, the one that we just love to see when our favourite directors are working all the time, no rest, no sleep, no nothing. I absolutely loved The Girlfriend Experience, a wonderful experiment and smart movie that really captured something about the here and now. It’s only rival in that department last year was Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air.

I have yet to see The Informant but it looks like I have a DVD screener on the way to me, so I should see it in the coming days but wow.. to think he’s on his third different movie already after giving us the two epic Che movies last Christmas.

Just incredible.

Get more like this direct to your Facebook feed.

Want to write about the stuff you're passionate about and GET PAID? Click here to become a contributor.

This article was first posted on January 8, 2010