When Tony Kaye first burst on the scene with his feature debut, American History X, he seemed to be poised for big things. Thanks to Edward Norton’s virtuoso performance, there was a lot of good buzz around the film, and Kaye benefited by association. But suddenly, Kaye Terence Trent D’Arby-ed himself right into director jail with a series of brash comments, attack ads against his own film, lawsuits, and publicity stunts that only harmed him. Fast forward a few years, and he’s done about as good of a job of career rehab as I’ve seen a director pull off in some time. Kaye returned to music videos – most notably the somewhat uninspired Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” – and put out an abortion documentary, Lake of Fire, that garnered some good notices. Now, he’s been easing his way back into features, and his latest entry there isn’t quite what you would expect.

He’s linked up with a new film banner, Reliant Pictures, that has a deal with MGM for turning out relatively low budget pics in the $10-15 million range. The first one up is an action thriller called Penitentiary. Not too many other details are available, but I will go ahead and wildly guess that we’re not talking a remake of the seemingly immortal blaxploitation franchise of the same name starring Leon Isaac Kennedy, always as a wronged brother trapped behind bars and forced to fight. Though it was born in the blaxploitation era, the last Penitentiary movie – part Three – was actually released in 1987, and the plot involved Kennedy’s hero, Too Sweet, having to – as IMDB puts it – “fight the prison’s worst killer, a martial-arts fighting midget called Thud.”


You can’t remake greatness like that, so most likely this will be a more homogenized prison-escape movie of some sort. No release date as of yet, but we’ll keep you posted.