Debuting director/co-scenarist Todd Bellanca’s “Knockdown” uses an achronological flashback structure to chart the long freefall of a successful U.S. pro boxer confronting various forms of squalor in Bangkok. That sounds interesting enough, and lead Casey Evans, an ex-boxer, gained nearly 100 pounds during production to portray his protag from fit to failure. Yet the pic never comes to life as drama, actioner or anything else, and Evans, though game, lacks the charisma to lift uninspired material. Limited U.S. theatrical launch has stirred scant interest, but home-format sales should be OK.
A mysterious stranger (Nick Faltas) recognizes a plump barkeep as Jack “the Ripper” Stemmons (Evans), onetime “St. Louis’ Great White Hope,” who lost it all by killing a mob-connected bookie (Tom Arnold) after discovering a fight was fixed. Fleeing to Thailand, he attracts more sleazy, exploitative types, falls for a prostitute and sinks into substance abuse. Adequately assembled but lacking atmosphere and urgency, this dullish effort is being variously distributed abroad as “Bangkok Bound” and “The Bad Penny” (the actual onscreen title on the DVD reviewed). Nominal name draws Arnold and Bai Ling are but briefly seen.