Lee, a soccer player who descends into depression when he goes blind, is encouraged to take up the game again by a maverick American and the inspiration of Leeds Utd legend, Billy Bremner.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Vaughan
Sandra Reeves
Peter Lorimer ...
Leeds United Fan
Patrick Micallef ...
Charlie Howard
Jane Peachey ...
Gina Blackwell
Dave Mounfield ...
Derek the Manager
Duncan Henderson ...
Jim the Psycho Postman
Daniel Rabin ...
Jason Thompsett
Samantha Beckinsale ...
Maddie Vaughan
Frank Jarvis ...
Mr. McClintock
Des McAleer ...
Denis Cleghorn
Shelley De Moussin
Tara Keatley ...
Daniella Funnell
Georgina Tasker ...
David Earl ...
Tony Queen


Lee, a soccer player who descends into depression when he goes blind, is encouraged to take up the game again by a maverick American and the inspiration of Leeds Utd legend, Billy Bremner.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


If Andrey Tarkovsky ever made a pub football movie . . . See more »





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Release Date:

7 November 2006 (UK)  »

Box Office


$400,000 (estimated)

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User Reviews

Life's a bitch and then it goes to penalties
27 May 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Suffering from the double disability of being both blind and a fervent Leeds United supporter, social worker Lee longs for nothing more to ease the frustrations of daily life than "a damn good kick-about". His unhinged colleague Charlie decides to make his dream come true, and inveigles him onto a local works football team. But will Lee ever get to exercise his preternatural talent for the penalty kick?

"The Penalty King" is an eccentric tale with a dark underside, although still more "Strictly Ballroom" than "Kes". Played by Nick Bartlett as a tightly-wound knot of barely contained aggression, Lee invites neither pity nor sympathy—more the impulse to duck behind a pillar when you see him coming. It's fair to say blindness is the least of his problems.

One senses writer/director Chris Cook went to some pretty dark places in his life for the raw materials for this fable, leading to an unsettling blend of truth and fantasy. For example, the portrait of the dank, dysfunctional social services depot where Lee works is both grotesquely over-the-top and strangely accurate. There's also a depth to the rest of the characters which is unusual in a comedy. Played with relish by a strong supporting cast, they're all pretty much bent or damaged too, and there's a violent and bitter edge to their relationships which undercuts the whimsy.

"Penalty King" might never achieve the crossover success of "Bend it like Beckham" but it still has all the makings of a cult favourite. It may lack a cart-wheeling Keira Knightley, but there are compensations, notably in the shape of the delightful but underused Clare Grogan (as Lee's bossy-boots boss), who still has the ability to make men of a certain age go weak at the knees. Her drunk scenes alone are worth the price of admission.

The film takes its own time to get going, and occasionally over-indulges itself, but can nevertheless sit alongside classics like "Sideways" and "Withnail and I" as an exploration of less creditable sides of the male psyche. An agreeable if not totally uplifting movie then, and, while something of a rough diamond, a gem all the same.

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