6 out of 10

Release Date: 30th May 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Nicholas Winter (Undercover Hooligan)

Cast: Kris Johnson, Gary Finian, Kerri Dwyer, James Groom, Lee Hatch, Jo Dyson with Jason Wing and Douglas Fielding

Writer: Terry Lee Coker



Surprisingly competent for a movie with the word Hooligan in the title, we could have a winner for best one yet. Whilst some of the later plot developments cross the line into video nasty, Hooligan Legacy has much to commend. First the firm has been put together with some care, concerns people who enjoy football and a good scrap with rival team supporters, and nice acting from a largely unknown cast. The plot is basic but well-thought out, and at this end of the independent filmmaking it’s nothing short of a miracle to find one as good as this. Even more so considering it was written by the same guy who made the mind-bogglingly bad Essex Vendetta – Terry Lee Coker.

The plot revolves around a heist of a football stadium late at night led by Jimmy (KRIS JOHNSON – ESSEX VENDETTA), only rival thug from a different firm, Ronnie (GARY FINIAN) muscles in. He’s a bit of a psycho, so after the job is finished almost without a hitch, he ends up in prison for the theft. Who grassed him up. 10 years later he’s out and he wants revenge.

So it’s a game of cat and mouse that runs to schedule but is fairly compelling and wathcable as we see our good guy turning into a bad guy once more to tackle an even larer evil. And boy does this turn out badly because this crosses a few lines that are usually ignored in similar ‘cookie-cutter’ revenge thrillers.  The last shot is very good too, and leave an impression.

Whilst Hooligan Legacy is no award winner, at last we have a decent and ambitious crime thriller from a director and writer team who are willing to at least make an effort to serve up a solid piece of low-budget thriller despite obvious limitation. Also lead Kris Johnson may be one to watch!

6 out of 10 – Solid thriller. Predictable plot but it ventures to some unexpected places. Nice acting and worth a look if you like Brit crime epics made on a shoestring.

Another review by Matt Usher below



One thought on “HOOLIGAN LEGACY

  1. REVIEW by Matt Usher

    It had to happen sooner or later: someone has finally made a pretentious and almost arty hooligan film. I mean that as something of a compliment. I think. We can see it’s arty from the first shot: a boy kicks a ball in the street. This has no relevance to anything that follows, and isn’t a particularly interesting or unusual shot. But it’s intriguing enough to suggest HOOLIGAN LEGACY isn’t going to be a typical hooligan film.

    For one thing there’s an unusually high amount of football-related content: as well as the boy kicking the ball, there’s a stadium heist (which forms the first act), and our hero’s son is a keen footballer. This is considerably more than in many a hooligan film, though of course the words football and hooligan are not synonymous.

    The hooligenre is a strange beast. Few entries into the canon (of those which I’ve endured) show any cinematic flair, and many of them seem to be little more than amateurish rants perpetrated by talentless people who don’t care they’re untalented yet also exhibit a total lack of enthusiasm (that’s a coded reference to you, Mr Tanter). Most hooligan films feel like they can’t be bothered to exist. HOOLIGAN LEGACY, for all its many faults and offences, does at least feel like it’s been made by a team which (a) cares about what it’s doing, and which (b) has enough talent to make a film which is more than competent.

    To be clear, I hated it immensely, but it has features which, if not redeeming, are at least interesting.

    Another caveat: as with most of the hooligenre it’s not about hooligans. It’s about burglars. So it should probably be called AFTER THE BREAK-IN or LEGACY OF A BURGLARY or WHAT HAPPENS WHEN BURGLARS GET ANNOYED.

    A gang of burglars (not hooligans) break into Upton Park (the home of West Ham apparently) and steal from the safe. The operation goes almost according to plan, though the getaway driver almost gets into a spot of bother and one of the robbers is a sadistic thug. The criminal quartet get away, and take their leave of each other, but then a senseless act of violence changes things forever.

    A decade passes.

    Before going any further I ought to indicate how this passage of time is indicated in this low budget film which doesn’t have the resources to dress the earlier set accordingly: the lead actors (all of them) now sport beards. Yes. Maybe it’s part of their disguise so they don’t get caught? Except one of them (the very violent psychopathic nutcase one with a streak of paranoid rage) did get caught, and now he’s out and he wants vengeance over whoever it was dobbed him in.

    And so the hooligan legacy is of course vengeful violence – what else could it have been? Once tainted, one can never truly escape, not even if you’ve grown a beard and married someone who was in Hollyoaks (Terri Dwyer) when it was popular. Which is what our hero Jimmy has done. He has made good with his ill-gotten gains and is in full possession of a happy harmonious family, including a too forgiving wife, a lovable son, a likeable joshable dad, and even a nice dog (which astonishingly doesn’t die). Alas our sadistic ex-jailbird with a grudge sees this merely as material with which to make mayhem and proceeds to hound Jimmy in the time-honoured way of the crazed stalker (despite a worrying and possibly significant lack of evidence).

    And so Jimmy’s life spirals out of control and he has to face the demon from the past, which he is ultimately able to do only after he reaches his Popeye moment (he doesn’t actually say ‘That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more’ as the actor embodies such a message purely in his facial expression), a moment which is arguably a bit late in the day, but I suppose there’s a moral there about living the quite good life off the earnings of others (even if it was over-paid footballers they nicked from) and not taking your family into your confidence especially when they’re being menaced by a bad guy with a penchant for putting football shirts on a clothes line (as a warning, obviously).

    Much of the acting is better than adequate – the two antagonists (Kris Johnson as nice but dim Jim and Gary Finan as sneaky snake Ronnie) are excellent, one quite charismatic and real and the other believably nasty. Douglas Fielding as the dad makes the most of the role and he and our hero convince as father and son. The supporting cast are all good, especially the weasel-like Jack (another bearded ex-burglar) (James Groom).

    The film maintains a bleakness from the start. At times it’s too deliberately ‘look we’re being dark, stark and brutal for the sake of it’ but as the film continues this approach does meld with the story itself. Obviously it could not qualify as a hooligan film without the strategic placing of a pregnant woman in peril. But being gritty, dark and arty, and edgy, this film moves that taboo to a new level. I disapprove. And I hate to announce this to the world, but the English language is now in desperate need of some new swear-words. HOOLIGAN LEGACY’s true legacy is that it finally exhausts all the expressive possibilities of the current stock.

    Just to be clear: this is not a good hooligan film. Those seeking the joys of watching morons pummelling other morons because of petty criminal activity linked tenuously to football supporters need to look elsewhere. The whole thing is frankly repellent, well made though it is (for the most part). The director is clearly a talent worth watching, and I get the impression he’s not just some bozo who thought it’d be cool to make a film about hooligans from Essex but is actually someone with a serious interest in making real films. This comes quite close.

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