The After Dark Action brand’s promise to revive the tropes of macho ’80s B-movies checks “mixed-martial-arts ‘Rocky’ knockoffs” off the list with “The Philly Kid.” Virtually interchangeable with that era’s myriad direct-to-vid knuckle operas, pic delivers the basic goods, if not much more, as formulaic, functional guys’-night-in entertainment, providing employment to many shirtless, no-necked actors. Sales should be hale in various formats.
Young jock Dillon (Wes Chatham) is buying beer with a fake ID when his friends get innocently pulled into a mugging that ends with several deaths, including a policeman’s. Ten years later, Dillon is paroled from prison in Louisiana, where ne’er-do-well pal Jake (Devon Sawa) is heavily in debt to local thug Ace (Lucky Johnson). Dillon agrees to pay off the debt on the cage-fighting circuit; cue training montages and bloody-nose makeup. Add romantic interest (Sarah Butler), trainer with a past (Neal McDonough), good-guy parole officer (scenarist Adam Mervis) and bad cop (Chris Browning), and plot points fall into place with efficiency if little surprise. Perfs and Jason Connery’s direction are solid enough, but the pic lacks the distinctive elements that might have lifted it above routine competence.