Nicolas Cage Will Return as Arms Dealer Yuri Orlov in an Upcoming 'Lord of War' Sequel

Nicolas Cage in 2005's "Lord of War." (Lionsgate)

The last time Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout made headlines, it was because the United States had released him in a prisoner exchange with Russia for WNBA player Brittney Griner. Bout was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2008 after being lured there by the promise of making an arms sale to FARC rebels in Colombia.

Bout, known as "The Merchant of Death," and international arms dealers like him inspired the 2005 film "Lord of War," starring Nicolas Cage. Although Cage's character Yuri Orlov was fictional, the film itself illustrated "the deadly impact of the uncontrolled global arms trade," according to Amnesty International.

In May 2023, Cage signed on to team up with director Andrew Niccol to reprise his role from "Lord of War." Called "Lords of War," the sequel will include Bill Skarsgard ("It," "John Wick: Chapter 4") who plays Anton Orlov, the son Cage's Yuri Orlov didn't know he had.

Instead of trying to stop his father, Anton tries to outdo him by raising a mercenary army to fight American conflicts in the Middle East. Depending on when the new story installment takes place, there would be a lot of potential business there.

When last we saw Yuri, he had begun building his arms trafficking empire by selling to both Israel and Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War, along with Colombian rebels, former Soviet republics and African militias. Yuri's brother and business partner, Vitaly (Jared Leto, "Blade Runner 2049," "Fight Club"), is gunned down after a deal goes bad in Sierra Leone, and Yuri is disowned by his parents.

It's a fitting place to pick up the Orlov family saga with the new sequel, which begins production in fall 2023.

Bout, the real-life gunrunner and primary inspiration for Cage's character, had a more gradual rise to arms trafficking prominence. After serving with the Soviet armed forces as a translator, he began an air freight business, which may have been under the auspices of working for Russian security services.

Whether he was working for the Soviet government or not, his Liberia-based company had contracts moving freight for the governments of France and the U.S., as well as the United Nations.

A 2007 book titled "Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes and the Man Who Makes War Possible" alleges that Bout moved guns, ammunition and supplies to conflicts in Afghanistan, Angola, Liberia and the former Yugoslavia.

Bout has also been accused of moving cargo for combatants in the Second Congo War, the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War and for dictator Moammar Gadhafi during the Libyan Civil War.

There is no shortage of regional conflicts for the new "Lords of War" to ply their trade. As the first film reminds viewers, the world is full of ruthless arms brokers who are standing by to sell weapons to the highest bidders -- and Nic Cage will be there to call the world's attention to it.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on LinkedIn.

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