1.5 out of 10

Release Date: 5th September 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Steven M Smith (Haunted 5 / Haunted 4 / Haunted 3 / Haunted 2 / The Howling (2017) / The Dollmaker / Borstal / Invasion Earth / Essex Boys – Law of Survival / Hooligans At War / Haunted (2013))

Cast: Darren James King, Chris Bell, Ryan Regis, Mark Wingett, Sharon Lawrence, Katie Alexander-Thom, Steve North, David Beck, Marcel Dorian, Mat Holt, Mark Sears, Sarah Rose Denton, Tony Fadil, Ian Hawke, Jemima Slade, Steven M Smith with Ben-Loyd Holmes and Jon-Paul Gates



I Am Hooligan has one thing going for it. It’s not an Essex Boys movie. Actually make that two things, it actually contains scenes of hooliganism (unlike most films with the ‘H’ word in the title).  Otherwise, I’m sad to report this is another thrown together bag of film offal. It’s a mixed bag of terrible scripting, uneven acting, basic plotting, bad grading, bad editing, a random clown, and inappropriate musical interludes. For once, the best aspect is the narration. Usually, narration doesn’t work, because it isn’t needed. In I Am Hooligan, at least there’s been some attempt to let the audiences see inside the hero’s confused head.

Justin’s (DARREN JAMES KING – INVASION EARTH) only friend Eddie (CHRIS BELL – HAUNTED 2) is a bit of a bore who’s always nagging at him to do better in life. When Kevin (RYAN REGIS) and his bunch of mates take him to the pub it turns out he’s got the right stuff when it comes to a tear up. When the gang decide to test Justin’s true mettle one night they trick him into attacking Eddie in an alley. This is when the wheels come off Justin’s descent in the a life of thugdom. But is it already too late? Is he doomed to lead a violent life? On top of all of this, his Dad (MARK WINGETT – THE BILL) is duffing up his Mum (SHARON LAWRENCE) every day and he’s got to stop it.

As basic as that sounds there’s still some confusing elements as opera music stalks our characters as they walk around the Thamesmead Estate, there are loose connections to A Clockwork Orange with scenes recreated and references come thick and fast. Look out for the glasses of milk, and the extended tableau in the milk bar, and then there’s the wonderfully bonkers cameo by Jon-Paul Gates (HAUNTED 2) as an assassin who’s walked straight out of an Twin Peaks audition – that’s my favourite bit. The main actors are OK but hamstrung by sub-Simon and The Witch level dialogue. The word ‘c*nt’ is shouted out and over emphasisesd at every opportunity and it gave me a head ache (poor me!). Poor Chris Bell is saddled with a duffer of a role, thrown in as Justin’s conscience and guardian angel he’s just an over moralising bore, with repetitive dialogue and he’s probably to blame for Justin’s transformation if you think about it. Elsewhere, Ryan Regis as Kevin is a terrible actor, and with such a dominant role he almost single handedly ruins the film, but even without him it would be a toxic turd.

Scenes are badly lit and mastered, and it’s another botch it and scarper job by Steve M Smith & Chris Bell. There’s no signs of improvement from their last flick Essex Boys – Law of Survival and it’s a bad thing if Steve M Smith’s earlier Haunted (2013) currently leads the way pointwise here at Britpic.wordpress, as that was pretty shonky.

1.5 out of 10 – Very slim pickings from Steve M Smith and Chris Bell. It’s very dopey, badly made, laughably sincere, tonally unsure and unintentionally funny.

Read below for another review



One thought on “I AM HOOLIGAN

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    Let us begin by praising all that’s worth praising: this is indeed, as the title suggests (though experienced viewers of the genre may understandably be wary) a film about a hooligan, and a football hooligan at that. So despite the title’s curious syntax, it is at least accurate about some of the film’s contents. And in order to give depth to a dull character, the writers give him a wife (total screen time: 3 minutes) who, despite being pregnant in a hooligan film, is never in peril. This may be a first, and I duly salute the film-makers for that. (Instead the dull character himself is beaten half to death moments later.) OK, that’s the end of the praise, now onto the slagging off necessarily negative critique.

    We open with a flash-forward to one of the supposedly more exciting/significant moments in the story, before reeling back to explain how our young misguided fool of a protagonist found himself in such an unappetising position (namely beating the daylights out of his own mentor (under the mistaken belief that he was just some random bloke, which would’ve been OK)). So the story proper (apologies for the use of both those words) opens with the camera slowly following our hero as he pounds the mean streets of his estate, which doesn’t look too bad a place really. And I think I can speak with some authority as he pounds those streets in a single shot for a very long time. So long that I feel like I’ve lived there too.

    Justin’s just an ordinary kid who wants to be respected. But he comes from an unhappy home where violence, abuse and threat are the norm (his dad is The Bill star Mark Wingett, and he’s pretty good as a hideous father/husband), so for Justin there are two routes to gaining respect. These two routes are symbolised in the film by the two main supporting characters. Recall those cartoons where the protagonist ponders a choice; there’s a puff of smoke and a miniature version of himself appears on one shoulder, in the guise of the devil, who counsels the selfish path. Then on the other shoulder, in the vestments of an angel, another figure appears, appealing to the character’s better instinct. Here, the angel appears in the guise of his boring cousin/friend/not sure really (played with dull sincerity by the sincerely dull Chris Bell) who offers Justin a respectable job where he photocopies documents all day (I honestly don’t think anyone involved thought any further about the nature of the job than that). Or Justin could earn the respect of the devil, as epitomised by his villainous hoodie-wearing hooligan pal (one of those peculiar people who I hope you only get in films who witter on endlessly about ‘respect’ till they’re blue in the face and your ear has died of boredom), by becoming a football hooligan going on endless hedonistic quests for violence and sex. Justin’s a greedy lad, so he tries both, but unlike Gary Oldman in The Firm he has to make a choice (not least because he accidentally beats up his boss/best friend/cousin/whoever he’s meant to be). And so Justin goes down the path of violence, and even renames himself ‘J’ in a symbolic act of rebirth. God this is an abysmal film, pretentious, bleeding with fake sincerity and enlivened only by a quite spectacularly bizarre scene involving Jon-Paul Gates as a killer clown.

    So, yes, this is yet another dud for the hooligenre. In a desperate attempt to do something different, someone has decided to include some extracts from classical music. Alas, whoever it was clearly doesn’t understand how soundtracks work. The music is neither matched to the action, nor is it in ironic counterpoint to it. It is literally there in order to cover up silence. Or, in some cases, dialogue. Witness the scene where our hero and his guardian angel walk along a canal to the strains of the scherzo from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It’s nonsensical, bad and has nothing to do with either the scene or the music. Nor does it work in a Brechtian or John Cage post-modern way. And it happens a lot.

    This is probably the least terrible film I’ve seen from director Steven M Smith. His work is slowly improving, this film does at least have a coherent story. But there are still basic technical problems: the sound is poor (not that there’s much worth hearing), so are the visuals (ditto). In other words, his team still don’t know what buttons to press to make the equipment work. You get the impression that he still doesn’t know what grips, best boys and focus pullers do. Meanwhile the actors are left to their own devices, many of whom hurl the word cunt around willy-nilly regardless of context, and just hope for the best.

    In any other film the scene with the clown would look like a dreadfully mishandled dream sequence. Here, it looks like the director went home while his pet cat sneaked onto the set to finish the film. (Apologies to film-making cats.) The film (apparently) takes cues and ‘inspiration’ from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (which I haven’t seen) (something to do with Beethoven and milk apparently). In that light this scene makes some sort of sense (it’s an homage – of course!) and it certainly wakes you up. But my word, the gap between conception and execution is canyon-like. So maybe what we have here isn’t actually a dismal hooligan film, but a highly sophisticated piece of art which merely uses the trappings of the dismal hooligan film. The clues are there: the clown, the extreme close-up on Mark Wingett at his most objectionable, the random application of Beethoven to the soundtrack, the barely-concealed contempt for the viewer. Yes, this isn’t yet another terrible hooli-movie, it’s a terrible arthouse film (albeit one which has scenes of football hooliganism, ironically a rarity in most films of both these genres). Odd. In a bad way.

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