The Hooligan Factory (2014)
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Still not sure? The movie is filled with weird and strange humor. Not everything is a hit, but there's enough here to enjoy if you let yourself. Plus it does have violence thrown in there for good measure (in other words, does not shy away from it). It might have a very strange moment towards the end, that does break the comedy a bit, when it gets serious, but the movie almost even pulls that off. Decent enough, especially if you think there have been enough movies about Hooligans already ...
Danny (Jason Meza) is the off-spring of his father, a once legendary football hooligan who has disappeared from his life. After being expelled from school and wanting more out of life, he crosses paths with Dex (Nick Nevern, also directing) another big name footie hooligan who's just been released from prison. Together, they go about re-uniting the old firm and trying to restore their former glory, but those days may be well behind them.
Even after they really ceased to hold their cult appeal, these British gangster/firm films still get put out a lot in the direct to DVD market, with a load of no name or little known actors in the lead role. So frequently do they appear, it seemed a fitting idea to make a film lampooning them all, and Nick Nevern's film is certainly thorough, sending up everything from Green Street, to more big time stuff like Goodfellas, only rarely to very funny result. It plays too much like a standard hooligan film, from the dialogue to the set up, and at times feels even more depressing than the usual such stuff.
Hyped up a fair bit by social media, with many of the cast and crew and their families allegedly behind it, it's all too evident why this enjoyed what could only have been the briefest of cinema visits. *
Note to self: in future check the number of votes before buying in to scores shown on IMDb as a good way to find under-rated gems on Blu-Ray! 7.1 for a movie I wouldn't give a 4 to!
It's interesting that Danny Dyer (who appears in the opening scene) and Ian Lavendar don't appear on the IMDb credits - are they too embarrassed to be associated with the end result? Dyer isn't even mentioned on the packaging - has his stock really fallen so low that they have to remove mention of him to avoid damaging sales?
The real problem here is the script. It's like something your mates would put together at school. Lead actor/director and co-writer Nick Nevern clearly has some talent - because the results are well-paced, stylish and convincingly (for the most part) decently acted - but script writing isn't one of them. I smiled twice during the whole movie (which, to be honest, is more than I expected given "the usual suspects" involved in this) but when the best "joke" is the white hero thinking his black son by a white wife is an "apple that doesn't fall far from the tree" it's obvious that whatever comedy is involved is all pretty jaded and desperate.
Ultimately you have to congratulate the marketing folk behind this. 7.1 on IMDb and the title is well stocked in the supermarkets in the week of release. When only two titles at most get the luxury of supermarket distribution in a week where some pretty good bona-fide films have been released, they've done incredibly well at grabbing an available slot. The asking price of £9.99 for the Blu-ray (including embossed slipcover) when most titles debut at £13 without a slipcover and £15 with a slipcover hints at the compromises that had to be made to persuade Sainsbury's et al to run with it.
But it's a depressing state of affairs when energy is being wasted on third-rate rubbish like this to the detriment of far better movies with far better talent involved (if you like East Enders you'll like this as the cast is mainly out-of-work former East Enders actors, all of whom presumably voted on here to get that 7.1 rating that the title had the day before it was released).
Danny (The always excellent Jason Maza) has no direction in his life but soon finds himself embroiled with Dex,(Nick Nevern) Football Hooligan Topboy, recently released from prison who sports a nice line in neon tracksuit ware. Dex and his gang hang out in the not at all camp 'Iron Hoof' bar, always entering by the back door to avoid the Police, where they plan to square up against long time rival 'The Baron' who presides over another firm.
Okay so the football hooligan version of This Is Spinal Tap this isn't, but the laughs are not thin on the ground as Nevern (Who also co wrote and directs) keeps the gags coming thick and fast. The introduction to many characters in his football gang is a classic nod to the Goodfella's gangster hang out introduction scene and its a funny homage of the first order which will have me buying the DVD for alone. ('Freddy the Nonce - Come in the toilets I've got something to show ya..')
As with the actual films of this genre its very male led heavy with the few female characters not given much to do as the male testosterone hots up leading up to the big meet but perhaps that is the point because non comical films of this type give them even less to do. Nevern has compiled an impressive supporting cast which features several up and coming British Actors including Josef Atlin (Check out his performance in A Long Way Down)Ronnie Fox, Ray Fearon and Tom Burke who is already one of the best of his generation. Every character is a nod to an already existing stereotype in films of this type and then sent up to maximum comic effect, some work better than others but the cast all put in a maximum effort and it certainly pays off. Jason Maza with his natural on screen charisma anchors the whole piece nicely as the narrator and lead role of Danny and Nevern does an uncompromising job as both actor and director in keeping the tone of the piece in the way he intended. The look and the music of the film are well thought to compliment the comedy and may have you reaching for your nearest Kappa tracksuit wear store.
What makes the film all the more incredible is the budget and time in which it was shot in which was very tight on both counts. Though that has not been a factor on this review as it has to stand on its own two feet, it is still a remarkable achievement on its own worth mentioning.
While not everything in the film is perfect and some gags fall flat, the most important thing about comedy films is that they should make you laugh and I will imagine in a couple of years time when someone says to you 'What was the last British comedy that really made you laugh?' instead of struggling to think of one, your answer could well be 'The Hooligan Factory' (Unless you're a total lemon)
I enjoyed this, a lot, the references to Essex Boys, Goodfellas, The Firm (both versions), Green Street, the Football factory was funny and the Danny Dyer style of narration was great.
Lots of genuine laugh out loud moments, (when Dex meets his son Curtis) and when Dex and Midnight drop some E tabs and the ensuing scenes had me genuinely laughing.
OK, its not totally highbrow and if you have never been "ITK" or watched the films above, you probably wont enjoy it. Me? Yeah I liked it. Don't expect many Oscar nominations though.
p.s i think you should do a sequel to this movie in a year or two but work on it more than you did on this one and you could be in with a British blockbuster.
Taking this ride with Danny played by Jason Maza is a total blast, and the characters are all really good, I was surprised on more than one occasion by people just going left when you least expect them to.
Dex played by Nick Nevern is a complete Charles Bronson type, and is far more likable than Jude Law's Dom Hemingway. This will be a fan favourite, and Dex just might win you over as he does Danny.
Simple to the point a lot of simulated, (but obviously simulated in the funny way) violence, and some language, but not really. Nothing I can think of about this movie that I didn't Enjoy, so I recommend this to anyone who has seen a few British gang, or hooligan movies, and is up for a lot of the same, only different.
Jesse of www.Jesse.ca
Perhaps it was the silliness of it all that kept me watching and I have gone back to the film several times and found new gems of dialogue to enjoy with my mates as and when they see the film. I would say this out classes by a Country mile the so called spoofs from Hollywood. And that is the crux of it the movie is a spoof nothing more nothing less.
To make a movie on a budget that has you wanting more the second it has finished has my vote every time.
I can't wait for the soundtrack and of course 'Sexy Business'.
I would recommend any film fan to give this a look, you'll love it, and at the same time you will be supporting British movies, because whatever you say comedy is done best by The Brits.
More please Nevern, Lyndley and Maza!
THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY starts with a direct referential spoof of the climax of that film and is genuinely funny , along with having a couple of cameos of the usual suspects who appear in these type of movies . This is to be honest the highlight of the movie because I was expecting a few more of the mockney celebrity cadre to appear throughout the movie . This unfortunately doesn't happen but for what we get , an affectionate low brow lampooning of hooligan and gangster films it works relatively well . There might be a previous knowledge of other films required from the audience in order to get the jokes but let's face it guys if you've seen a British film over the last 15 years it will be one involving either gangsters or the ICF