REVIEWS: Action & Thrillers, Video — May 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

REVIEW: The Philly Kid (2012) + trailer

A former NCAA champion Dillon “The Philly Kid” McGuire gets into a fight near the liquor store with some thugs, and as a result one of his friends Chase (Kristopher Van Varenberg) is dead, the other one gets wounded (Jake – Devon Sawa), and he himself is thrown behind bars for killing a man.

Ten years later, Dillon is released from prison on parole, and he’s looking for a fresh start. His friend Jake offers him a job – to fight in cage matches in a local club owned by Letts (Michael Jai White), however Dillon refuses and instead goes to work in a liquor store.

Later however turns out Jake owes $20,000 to a local crime figure Ace (Lucky Johnson), and Dillon sees no other way out but to enter the cage, survive three fights, win them, and close Jake’s debt.

Since Dillon’s a wrestler, not a mixed martial artist, he miraculously wins his first fight. He manages to impress LA Jim (Neal McDonough) an ex-fighter, and now a trainer.

Later on, the two sign a contract, and Dillon slowly starts morphing from an expert wrestler into a complete fighter. What he does not yet know is that in the world of underground fighting there are many rules that cannot be broken, and if they are – sometimes the punishment is death…

I was surprised to find out that the film was directed by Jason Connery, legendary Sean Connery’s son, who seems to have switched to directing. And, to be honest, there’s one thing I am happy for – his “The Philly Kid” does not have any shaky camera in it.

The thing that most fans hate in a fighting movie is a shaky camera during the fights. This is done for two reasons – either the fights are so bad that its better “to shake” them, or just to make it more fancy. As a long-time martial arts movie fan I can say – it does not work. Never did, never will.

“The Philly Kid” does not have any of that, as we are able to see all the fights in the cage as they’re supposed to be (yes, the film does fall into the category of “mma films”, if you will). There are fast cuts here and there, but no shakes, and that’s great.

A thing that is not so great are the fights themselves – compared to some other mma films of 2011-2012, “The Philly Kid” is below mediocre for fights.

Acting wise, it is a lot better. Neal McDonough as LA Jim looks mighty confident and handles his part great, so does Michael Jai White, one of the best martial artists on-screen today, but who sadly only has a few non-fighting scenes here. Devon Sawa (whom I only remember from “Idle Hands”, yet he’s been around for quite some time) does his part well, his character gets into all sorts of punishment throughout the film, even more than those muscle heads in the cage.

As for the script, it is not something you should pay a lot of attention for in this kind of film, however there is one big plot hole that I realized in halfway throughout the film. Jake (Sawa) owes $20,000 to Ace (Lucky Johnson), and since he doesn’t have that money, Dillon has to go through these cage matches to earn money.

With all that, Jake drives a really expensive car throughout the film, a car which costs at least $50,000 – why not sell the damn thing and pay your debts? The story never says the car is not Jake’s and considering that he’s in debts up to his elbows, it can be assumed he had the car long before he got into the debts.

Jake is also not a rich guy, and seeing him drive this kind of car makes people think otherwise. Anyway, in my opinion, this was something that needed to be changed – either increase Jake’s debts or just hand him a cheap used car to drive.

Aside from that, the film is your mediocre “mma drama”. In the 90s – it was the kickboxing movies, since 2000s it started going all mma. So, if you’re a fan of the sub-genre, give it a look. And you can also check out the trailer below.




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