21st Mar2013

‘Brawler’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Wes Chatham, Devon Sawa, Sarah Butler, Neal McDonough, Michael Jai White | Written by Adam Mervis | Directed by Jason Connery

brawler

Originally set to debut back in August 2012 under the title of The Philly Kid, this is yet another film from the After Dark Action stable which looks, on the surface, like some lame Rocky knockoff. (A Rock-off?) Pleasantly enough, however, Brawler stands its ground as a movie all its own, albeit one that has plenty of The Italian Stallion and The Fighter in its DNA.

The story’s pretty simple, and told simply: an MMA fighter lands himself in jail on a manslaughter charge after accidentally killing a mugger. Upon his parole, he’s forced to take part in cage fighting matches to make ends meet and save his friend from getting macked by loan sharks. It goes right until it goes wrong, there’s a girl, there’s some bloody fight scenes and, of course, a good couple of training montage.

Doesn’t sound like much, but  Brawler pulls off this seemingly done-to-death story with a tight screenplay, no-nonsense direction and solid performances, including welcome appearances from Band of Brothers‘ Neal McDonough and Black Dynamite himself, Michael Jai White.

The violence packs enough of a punch to really get to you, and the ending, though predictable from 20 minutes in, is satisfying enough to warrant watching the rest of the film. It’s nothing you’ve not seen before, but it’s done well enough that it doesn’t really matter.

If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned fight movie to rent for a slow evening, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Brawler. The film is out now on DVD from Koch Media.

*** 3/5

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