This was a real surprise for me from The After Dark Action company, which has just released Dragon Eyes with Cung Le and Jean-Claude van Damme. Actually van Damme’s son Kristopher Van Varenberg played one of the teens in the opening scene of The Philly Kid.
More surprising was to find out that the film was directed by Jason Connery, legendary Sean Connery’s son, who seems to have switched to directing. This is his fourth movie and currently he is working on the Of Corset’s Mine with Rupert Everett and Alfred Molina, a turn-of-the-century cross-dressing romantic farce about a womanizing aristocrat forced to disguise himself as a woman in order to save the family’s inheritance at the expense of losing the love of his life.
The Philly Kid tells the story of youth gone wrong and follows a wrestler who turns to mixed martial arts in response to adversity.
Wes Chatham plays Dillon McCabe, a wrestler who wins the NCAA championship, but sent to jail for a death of a cop. After ten years behind bars, he is released on parole, but his unlucky friend Jake gets into serious trouble again. Do not borrow $20,000 from the local gang, especially if you have been school mates.
So Dillon’s chance to start his life over again is postponed, he enters the rough-and-tumble world of mixed martial arts to earn the money and save his friend. He rises to success quickly, but realizes that he is trapped in a system that he can’t surpass.
Actually The Philly Kid is a movie at heart, standing out more for the fight scenes than for the character’s emotional dilemmas.
Actor Wes Chatham joined the U.S. Navy as a firefighter at age 17, where he earned himself the nickname “The Kerosene Cowboy”,so martial arts scenes of the movie look are entirely believable, and part of this success is a very well made fighting choreography by stunt coordinator Danny Cosmo and probably … Michael Jai White. Are you really surprised to hear this name related to MMA movie? I am not, because since Never Back Down 2 his name is tightly connected to this industry and I can’t wait for the third part when Michael comes into the ring as a fighter, but will be fighting not just staying as an over-confident person capable to destroy opponent with a couple of moves… boring.
A special thanks comes to the supporting cast members who give memorable performances as the various inhabitants of the unsavory fighting underworld. Together, the cast members form a formidable ensemble that lends a human touch to an inhuman world.
The corrupt cop played by Chris Browning is a very good “bad boy” and well-meaning parole officer played by Adam Mervis, represent both sides of the good-evil spectrum. Neal McDonough gives a standout showing as Dillon’s trainer, who hides in the shadowy world of mixed martial arts fighting to escape his past, do not ask me which past, as always some tough fight which he lost and got a lame lag as a result.
The Philly Kid is not the Rocky and Warrior of cause, but follows a careful formula, creating the perfect martial arts movie with no deep meaning. Camerawork (NO SHAKY CAM) and editing are elegant and create a realistic atmosphere of the film with tough nature of mixed martial arts fighters.
Predictable, but very enjoyable ride with violent fight scenes.