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First of all there hasn't been a good film about English Football
Hooliganism. Both ID in 1995 and last years FOOTBALL FACTORY either
failed to convince or just went down the familiar exploitative road of
glamorising the buzz and thrill of violence.
HOOLIGANS as the title suggests depicts what these aforementioned films centre upon with the added value of having a story and characters you care about. There's no avoiding the cliché's as the ranks of these organised gang members are portrayed as gangsters.
Similar to BBC's Gary Oldman drama THE FIRM broadcast in 1986 it also show the characters as normal members of society, family men with respectable jobs. FOOTBALL FACTORY took the extreme and unconvincing scenario that these weekend animals are florist's during the week which might be amusing but the subject matter of organised territorial football hooliganism needs to be given a serious look at.
Fortunately HOOLIGANS portrays this more realistically, sure there's the stereo types in designer clothes (The Chavs) as we call them now where loyalty, respect, revenge, dignity and pride are what they live for, not the enjoyment of the actual sport. This simply acts as the excuse to fight in a traditional gang warfare environment. The prospect of West Ham's cup tie with Millwall brings joy to the faces of both sets of fans.
Casting Elijah Wood is a bold move, he looks like a Choirboy but this adds to the films main storyline of innocence corrupted. The acting is better than average, despite letting his cockney accent slip on occasions, Gang leader Charlie Hunnam shows a genuine mix of anger, aggression and compassion which holds the film together.
This won't win awards but it's refreshing to see a film finally tackling the subject matter that unfortunately has been a shameful factor of Britain's attitude towards football as we are constantly under threat of being disqualified from International tournaments due to the bad behaviour of soccer hooligans.
5 Stars; A truly great film, with a powerful story. Beautifully
photographed, in London, Wow! The audience was quickly involved, and
laughed, started, and gave a standing ovation at the end. Truly a
complete film, thank you for having a real ending to the film, which is
so rare these days. Never apologize for this film, it is loving, stark,
caring, hard, honest, violent, and beautiful. It touches the emotions,
and the feeling of not belonging that exists within many of us, and
that longing for love and brotherhood, that is not available without
some dire costs. The characters were so clearly human, powerful and
conflicted one was drawn to care for everything that happened to them
and cheer at their triumphs and sit in horror at their losses.
I have recommended that everyone see this film during SXSW. My wife and I were expecting an audience award for the film, which it easily won, however the Jury Award was also won and we were give true appreciation for the jury system at SXSW.
Beautiful photographed, with outstanding music, this production hits all the marks out of the ballpark and should be studied for how powerful film today could be. This is the level of film making I aspire to achieve.
This is the best new movie of any genre that I've seen in many months.
The film really drew me into its world of neighborhood pubs, football supporters, and the dirt-in-the-cracks reality of London. The violence is believable, realistic, graphic, and frightening. As are the consequences of that violence. This film does not glorify hooliganism, it portrays it honestly.
Hooligans doesn't preach about mob mentality, or strength in numbers, rather it gives credit to the strength in the individual that lives up to his commitment to his friends though he may suffer because of it. (That's the best way I could word it without including a spoiler.)
As an English ex-pat and a football fan, I went along to the Alamo
Draft House hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I got the
best. This film is simply brilliant and finally provides us with an
accurate portrayal of life amongst the hooligans in a way The Football
Factory or ID never did.
Central to this are the amazing fight scenes and the performances of the primary actors with Hunnam in particular doing an outstanding job. And if anyone believed that all Elijah Wood movies would forever be tainted with the image of Frodo Baggins, think again. Within about 10 seconds of screen time, any lingering thoughts of LOTR are gone.
Yet whilst the direction, actors and the stunts will attract all the plaudits, for me, the main reason why this film works so well is the very clever story and the amazing script. Yes, in many respects the subject has been 'Americanised' but it has been done in a way which is very subtle. I suspect that much of the credit for this goes to the writer Dougie Brimson because it is obvious very early on that there was a strong English influence on both the plot and the dialogue.
Given the level of violence, not to mention the subject matter, I'm not that sure mainstream America will respond that well to it but for me, the big test will come when it's shown in England but I suspect like me, the English audiences are going to love it.
I saw this at a mystery preview screening where I didn't know what film
was going to be shown. Sometimes these previews turn out to be real
turkeys but thankfully that wasn't the case this time.
Without revealing too much of the story, Elijah Wood's character gets kicked out of Harvard for a drug offence he didn't commit. He flies to London to visit his sister and quickly gets caught up in a small group of West Ham United supporting hooligans called the Green Street Elite.
The film does slightly glamorise the violence, but ends on a moralising note. An engaging storyline, good cinematography and decent cast performances make this a very enjoyable film.
Two minor demerits: 1) Charlie Hunnam's "cor blimey guv'nor" accent owes more to Dick van Dyke than London's East End.
2) To establish that Wood's character has landed in London, we hear this frankly ridiculous message over the airport's PA system - "this is a security announcement at London Heathrow airport". Presumably this was inserted for the hard of thinking.
To all the Americans who have commented that they'd avoid British football matches as a result of this film, I point out that this film is fiction - not a documentary. Hooligans are an absolutely tiny minority of the crowd at a football match and even then they invariably only fight among themselves rather than randomly attacking innocent members of the public (something the film accurately portrayed).
All in all, an excellent film, worth going to see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As one of the privileged few who saw the world premiere at SXSW (even
badge holders were turned away), Hooligans is sure to be one of the
most talked about films of the year.
Lexi Alexander, who, according to her Q&A answers at the premiere, grew up amongst the type of men depicted in Hooligans. The choice to use an American as a central character was deliberate, to quickly get into the story and see the lifestyle from an outsider's perspective.
As a wrongfully expelled Harvard student, Matt (Elijah Wood) decides to stay with his sister in England, and is reluctantly befriended by his brother in law's brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam). Wood deftly plays the passive introvert ripe for the seduction of group-bonding violence Hunnam's charismatically surly Pete, who introduces him to football (aka soccer) and the 'firms' who are known for their violence against rival teams' fans.
Without glorifying the violence, fully realized and likable characters explore how easily someone can be drawn into hooliganism. Instead of using broad strokes, Alexander demonstrates through Matt how even the most unlikely people get caught up in mob mentality and violence, through the bonds of friendship and belonging.
With an edgy soundtrack and strong performances, Hooligans leaves a lasting impression.
Let me start off by saying that I absolutely loved this movie. I've
been waiting for it to come out in DVD in the United States for a very
long time and I was amazed that the movie lived up to my high
Reading through the comments others have made about this movie, I was shocked that so many people hated it. It seems that many people, mostly Brits, hated the movie because they didn't think it was realistic enough, there were too many clichés, and because Charlie Hunnam's impression of a cockney accent wasn't very good.
I don't get it. First off, this is a fictional movie, not a documentary. I thought the plot of this movie was very compelling. Yes, you do have to suspend your disbelief a bit, but you have to do that for almost every movie made. Some folks simply could not accept Elijah Wood as a tough guy. I agree that it's difficult to picture Frodo as a tough guy, but I thought he did a very good job. I also thought Charlie Hunnam was OUTSTANDING. He has an incredible screen presence and I look forward to seeing him in future movies. Mark Warren was also great. In fact, the entire supporting cast was great in this film. Claire Forlani was great, Leo Gregory was fantastic, all of the guys that played Pete's friends were great (even the guy that played Tommy Hatcher was perfect). GREAT performances all around!!!
This is a great film. I've already ordered a copy for my DVD collection. I've seen it three times and I will watch it again when my copy arrives. It's that good! I give it an 8 out of 10.
I saw a screening of Hooligans at the SXSW and I was blown away! What a great film. The cast was excellent. The director was superb! Great action and still very profound! This was a great role for Elijah Wood. A very nice departure from his usual roles. Charlie Hunnum was excellent. And Leo Gregory as Bover was awesome. The action scenes were incredible. I couldn't believe this film was directed by a woman. She really portrayed the lifestyle of soccer hooligans realistically. Such a different view than the press gives. I can't wait to see more films by this director! When is this movie going to come out in theaters so I can recommend it to all of my friends?
Hopefully this film will not be limited in its reception as a "sport"
film, and more disparagingly in America as a "soccer" film. It is much
more than either distinction, for it portrays the transformational
awakening of a young man as he becomes proactive rather than reactive
This transition occurs within the often misunderstood culture of "football hooligans", hordes of zealous football fans who display a jingoistic allegiance to their teams and the locale from which they hail. The insight provided into this world reveals more than gang triviality for these men do not compete for the sake of criminal enterprise or the carnal spoils of women. Their skirmishes, often times brutal, are for stake in a sense of pride that reminds us that athletes put glory in our sport, but for some fans, glory is the sport. That pride, as it is conveyed, does well to offset the characterization of drunken recklessness that could easily be assessed to "hooliganism".
I highly recommend this film --- it's not "soccer". It's awakening to self.
I saw Hooligans last night at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (downtown
location) in Austin, Texas. This was a great feature length film debut
for director Lexi Alexander. You have to like fight films though,
because this was not sugar-coated (think Fight Club). Viewers never got
much of a break from the violence. Lexi said in Q&A that this is based
on some of the *firms/gangs* she was exposed to as a kid, and that it's
not make believe--this stuff really goes on. I also learned that Lexi
is a martial arts expert/champion (I think she's undefeated?).
Charlie Hunnan was absolutely amazing and I can't wait to see him appear in more films. I have to add that Lexi, Charlie, and the other cast members (including Elijah Wood) were extremely friendly in person. Charlie was polite to us and answered our questions about his career even though he was trying to grab a bite to eat...nice guy and a terrific actor!
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