EXCLUSIVE: GVN Releasing has acquired writer-director Matthew Berkowitz’s A Violent Man, a murder mystery drama set in the world of mixed martial arts that stars former NFL running back Thomas Q. Jones. The distributor will release the film day and date in theaters and VOD on January 18, 2019.

Isaach De Bankole, MMA icon Chuck Liddell, Denise Richards and Bruce Davison also star in the pic, which has elements of a contemporary noir. Jones (Luke Cage), the former NFL Pro Bowler who rushed for more than 10,000 career yards in 12 seasons, plays Ty, an unknown MMA fighter who beats the undefeated champ at a local gym. Overnight he becomes the underdog champion of the world with a title fight on the horizon, but when the female reporter covering the story is found dead, Ty becomes the murder suspect. A blackout, a dead body, and incriminating circumstances put him in the middle of a mystery.

The film was produced by Jones, John Lewis, Justin Steele and Orson Oblowitz.

“We love what Matthew Berkowitz did with this film and I’m thrilled to be in the Thomas Q. Jones business,” GVN founder Geno Taylor said. “He’s a hidden gem, a sleeping giant. A Violent Man is the beginning of his era in film.”

The deal was negotiated by Steven Belmont and Strath Hamilton at Tri-Coast Worldwide on behalf of the filmmakers.

GVN’s upcoming slate includes Mario van Peebles’ thriller Armed and Nick Searcy’s Gosnell.