Well, it looks like Ultimate Fighting champ Randy Couture has caught the acting bug. Couture is a multiple title holder in the UFC, and is making his acting debut in David Mamet's Ju-Jitsu flick, Redbelt. Now, The Bad and Ugly is reporting that Couture told Columbus Ohio radio station, QFM 96.3, that he was on his way to China in the next few weeks to begin work on the big screen version of Mandrake the Magician.

The film is based on the 1934 comic strip about a magician with lightening fast hypnotic powers who, along with his partner Lothar, would battle the usual crew of comic strip bad guys (just your usual array of crime lords and mad scientists). The film will be directed by Chuck Russell, and will star Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Mandrake. According to Ugly's tipster, Couture told the DJs "...he had quite a few scenes in the movie, and that it was being billed as a cross between James Bond and Harry Houdini." The bad news -- Russell is also the director behind some fairly crappy flicks including Bless the Child and The Scorpion King -- so we should probably keep our fingers crossed that Meyers is up to the task of carrying the movie.

Back in June there had been talk from celebrity magician Criss Angel that he was in the midst of making his own movie about the hypnotist/crime fighter, but it looks like Russell and company have beat him to the punch. I wouldn't count on another magician movie battle a la The Prestige and The Illusionist -- mainly because there hasn't been a peep out of Angel's Crow-inspired adaptation since June. Mandrake has yet to find a release date, but we are bound to hear something as soon as shooting has wrapped in China and the States.

[via ComingSoon.net]