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Rise of the Footsoldier
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77 out of 107 people found the following review useful:

Decent - don't believe the reviews

Author: noahbbrown from United Kingdom
9 September 2007

I've just seen this at the cinema, and I can't believe it's had such bad reviews. I can only think critics are offended by the subject matter, as this is a pacey, well-acted, stylishly shot exploitation movie. Yes, the central characters are unpleasant, but when did that have anything to do with the quality of the film itself? That's like saying Guernica is a bad painting as it portrays a bombing, and bombings are NOT NICE...

Seriously though, if you like hard-boiled, brutal, gripping "TOUGH GUY" cinema, you will enjoy this. The 80s/90s period detail is captured very well, with haircuts, fashions and soundtrack, and the violence doesn't let up. I was half expecting some sub-Guy Ritchie cringe-worthy thing, but it's not like that at all. The plot focus does shift from Leach to his cohorts in the film's latter half, which some viewers seem to have a problem with, but not I. ROTF barrels along and seems shorter than its near-two hour running time. Plenty of brutality, nudity, swearing and drug abuse. Sweet!

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81 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

"When coke deals go bad..."

Author: europolismovie ( from United Kingdom
3 September 2007

Let's face it; Reservoir Dogs wasn't so much a movie about a diamond heist gone wrong as it was about a gang of actors that wanted to be Lee Marvin. Rise of the Footsoldier (Released 7th of September) is nothing more or less than a bunch of Scorsese fanatics who wished they'd been in Goodfellas – and be fair, who wouldn't?

'Footsoldier' is a gangster film – pure and simple. "Professional" Football hooligans the I.C.F (Inner City Firm) have met their nemesis with a combination of high profile arrests. With the emergence of the 'rave' scene of the late 80's they recognise the lucre generating possibilities of the new counter culture; get 'loved up', 'steam' the groovy train and swap their Stanley knives and knuckle dusters for smiley T. Shirts, Kickers and eh… shotguns. Quickly establishing themselves as major 'faces' in the Essex underworld, it isn't long before these Knights of the glass table are running their cocaine Camelot through a gamut of girls, guns and high friends in dangerous places.

Based on a real life 1995 'hit' which rendered three of those face's blown off at a secluded dirt track in Retterdon, the cinematic possibilities of what is now known as 'The Range Rover Killings' has not been lost on movie land. The semi fictional Essex Boys (2000) took its cue from this pivotal event in gangland history but 'Footsoldier' is a more authentic account, retaining the facts and the actual characters as recounted in 'Muscle', the book written by one of the surviving members of the gang Carlton Leach, played here by a shark eyed Ricci Harnett.

'Footsoldier' also boasts an impressive array of T.V tough guys including Ex-Eastender's Bill Murray and Craig Fairbrass, whose soap appearances had hitherto had me scrambling for the off switch. Both are excellent here, with Murray exuding menace from every pore and Fairbrass chillingly convincing as the 'roid' crazed Pat Tate. Mover and shaker Terry Stone has a face that suggests all the members of the Clash at once and follows his impressive turn in Gilby's last movie, the very excellent 'Rollin' With The Nines' as Tony Tucker; a one man swear-a-thon sporting a syrup that looked liked it could have been a stunt double for Dougal in the Magic Roundabout.

Brandishing its Scorsese-isms loudly and proudly (sweeping crane shots, freeze frame voice overs etc) 'Footsoldier' is no 'feel good' film by any stretch. But there is much to enjoy from watching these guys 'go ta woik' in a similar, but darker fashion to ensemble piece 'Love, Honour & Obey' (Was I the only one that liked that film?!) or the aforementioned Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps not quite dislodging any of the unholy trinity of Get Carter, Brighton Rock and The Long Good Friday from their lofty throne, Rise of the Foot Soldier doesn't let up for a second and holds its own as a 'balls out', 'in yer face' thrill ride, and certainly a worthy addition to the 'Grit Brit' gangster pantheon.

Adrian Stranik

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42 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

heavy but good

Author: allyrd from United Kingdom
22 January 2008

Woo, this is one violent film (and i like that sort of thing) but be warned. Ill admit i automatically (flinched) looked away at one scene and i have seen some pretty horrific videos and not been moved.Pizza anyone!

Aside from this the film portrays the thugs fairly accurately. It may seem over the top too some but this is just what life was like in the peak days of football violence in Britain. As someone who has lived in a football obsessed city surrounded by football casuals and witnessed running street battles i thought the fight scenes were very well done. if your unlucky enough to see this type of thing in real life then you will realise just how scary they can be.

Shocked me as much as The Firm (Gary Oldman one) did although with The Firm i felt slightly for the characters (peer pressure, vulnerabilities etc) but with this film i had no sympathy whats so ever for the players in this story. Basically their a bunch of nutters that got what they deserve :)

Remember this is based on an true account of the time and is severely brutal with savage characters and moments. This was and still is life for some people. Avoid if you cannot handle the brutality of real life.

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54 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Brutal but gripping British gangster movie

Author: russelledwards001 from United Kingdom
5 November 2007

I'm always wary of saying that a film is excellent after only seeing it once, but me and my wife and friends have been talking about this film since we watched it.

Although extremely brutal in places this movie is one of the best British gangster titles i have seen in years now.

The story is gripping and the football firm fighting scenes although perhaps a little over the top with the blood make sorry titles like green street and football factories seem like a walk in the park.

I was extremely impressed with Terry Stone (known to those who have been in the rave scene as terry turbo) and as a fan of this genre was delighted to see some great bad boy actors from eastenders (jonny allen and dan for those who know).

A great take on a subject that has certainly been done before, but it was also nice to see the early rave scene being covered as well, something i'm sure as time goes by we will see a lot more of.

All in all if you are a fan of the genre i have little doubt you will enjoy this movie.

I have a feeling once it is released on DVD this will become a cult movie. And rightly so.

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53 out of 86 people found the following review useful:


Author: Tony Day from United Kingdom
11 September 2007

Went to see this Monday, and I thought what a great British true crime story. The director made this film as true to live as possible, and he did a great job of doing this, it's a fantastic true story that most Essex and London people know about. The film in my view shows you how the Essex boys lived there lives in Basildon, and how Carlton leach was part of there life's as well. It's true underworld film, will plenty of action. When I see this I hadn't been to sleep for hours and went straight from work to see it praying I won't fall a sleep, it kept me awake the whole time, its action all the way.

The actors all played the parts well, ricci harnett who plays Carlton played a great role, as too do terry stone (Tony tucker) and Craig fairbrass as (pat Tate) Roland manookian (Craig rolfe) all played these guys like the real Essex boys were.

If you're a true crime fan, and love a British film, then go see this film, don't listen to what the press say, make your own mind up, and remember this is all true.

Its no big Hollywood film, it's a British movie, and we don't see many of them.

I will be going to see this movie again.

Well done again to director and writer Julian and will gilbey

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33 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Reality vs Movies Making

Author: smwoyak8 from United States
5 December 2007

I thought this was a great movie. I don't get all the bad comments. In truth this movie was based on real events, that's what makes it so great. They're trying to get across the grit and situations of the characters, attempting to make them more real rather than a stylized ideal of what they're supposed to be. If you can't appreciate the realism and would rather see mass produced soulless productions go see something else. For me it did the trick and is representative of the genre, i.e. movies based on real events. Take Ghost in the Darkness, it had a star, Val Kilmer, and a substantial budget yet failed to be a box office success. When a director, and actors are relating a story of this type you expect a rougher display and style. A refined actor would try to change the roll and make it more noble or classy than it was. I'll take unknowns, an interesting story, and a desire to make something more than a box office titan every time.

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46 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Why the bad reviews?

Author: Maxxy74 from United Kingdom
12 September 2007

I went to see this film the other day and although its not my type of film, I can't see why the reviews were so bad. Its very violent, very gory and has some real laugh out loud moments and in the cinema I was sitting in it had plenty of "oooo's and ahhh's" so the audience seemed to like it. Its definitely been made for the lads and is a working class film. Its not just some mickey mouse gangster film trying to imitate Lock Stock and two smoking barrels. It has similarities to Goodfellas and I think as a low budget British gangster flick it deserves to be praised for what it is. It has some amazing performances from Ricci Harnett, Terry Stone and Roland Manookian who in my opinion jointly make this film worthy of at least a 3* review and at best 4*. My advice is go and see this film and make up your own mind, don't let some upper class snob who hasn't watched this film properly and obviously has issues with the working class and the British Gangster Genre sway you from what I think is going to be a cult British film like The Football Fatory and Green Street are.

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47 out of 76 people found the following review useful:

Exceptonally violent British crime film

Author: arthur lang (grindhouse74) from United Kingdom
27 October 2007

After watching Rise Of The Footsoldier i knew it was a great British gangster film, at first you think its going to be along the lines of Green Street, ID or The Football Factory but its much more and much better than that. The film follows Carlton Leech a football hooligan and all round street thug, after he has been hired as a doorman because he can handle himself in violent situations, he naturally works his way up to more criminal dealings, well you can guess the rest. With a few encounters with some very brutal people mostly his friends, the film gives you an insight into British crime like no other. Director Julian Gilbey who made his mark with the impressive Rollin With The Nines has created a powerhouse of a movie, he lays on the violence thick and fast that borders on exploitation which may put off some viewers, so if you have a problem with brutality stay away, if not check it out. It does not reach the heights of Goodfellas(but what does?), so if your looking for something hardcore, this film pulls no punches.

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A British Scorsese

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
13 September 2012

In American gangster movies the protagonist finds himself pursuing the American dream via the American existentialist capitalist nightmare . By this I mean he finds a violent purpose in a meaningless uncaring world , a purpose that usually leads to his destruction either literally or metaphorically . Brtish cinema doesn't have a long tradition of this type of movie and perhaps the closest we have in this country is the football hooligan film . Mindful of this director Julian Gilbey has made a film trying to bridge the gap between the two

Is he successful ? Yes and no . Yes to the fact that he's made a dark violent thriller but no judging by the amount of comments along the lines of " I watched this movie thinking it was a biopic on Carlton Leach only to find he disappears halfway through " What the film is not is a biopic but if proof is ever needed that crime does not pay then an audience could do a lot worse than watch RISE OF THE FOOT SOLDIER

It's certainly memorable but I mean this in a dubious way . It's certainly not pleasant and Gilbey concentrates on the gore and violence . Perhaps too much so as he introduces conspiracy theories as to why three violent gangsters are executed gangland style . Why does he do this ? Simply to show three criminals get blasted to death in the most graphic way possible . You can't get enough of seeing a naughty boy get shot in the face with a shotgun ? Good because you'll be able to see it happen at least three times from different angles . Gilbey is trying to emulate Scorsese though he's not entirely successful . That said one had hoped he'd be more prolific . After all who wants to watch British art house or period dramas all day ?

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

From Upton Park to Rettendon‏

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
10 April 2011

Rise of the Footsoldier is directed by Julian Gilbey who also co-writes the screenplay with Mike Hawk. It stars Ricci Harnett, Kierston Wareing, Craig Fairbrass, Roland Manookian, Terry Stone and Frank Harper. Plot follows the story of one Carlton Leech (sic), how he rose from being a football terrace hooligan to one of Essex's top club-land gangsters, and his involvement in the true-life murder of three drug Barron's in Rettendon, Essex in 1995.

I remember writing back in 1994 that there is a market for film's involving football hooligans. This was after the release of a film called I.D., the first, and still the best, film to put the itchy subject on the big screen. Four years later Guy Ritchie would make British gangsters hip, and since then a number of like minded British film's about hooligans, thugs, convicts and underworld crims have made their merry way to the screen. Some great: Lock Stock, Snatch, Sexy Beast, Football Factory, Layer Cake. Some mediocre: Cass, Revolver, Bronson. And some plain bad: Essex Boys, Bonded by Blood, The Business. What we do know is that whatever the quality, people want to see them, granted some of the viewers might actually be thugs or criminals themselves, getting off on another slice of blood marinated pie, but fact remains that the market remains the same, a number of film watchers enjoy their trips down the dark side of Britain.

But here's the question, where do we stop? After Cass, Bronson and now Rise of the Footsoldier, are we to assume that any hard man geezer can get a film made about him? Lets face it, we are not talking about Peter Sutcliffe or Dennis Nielson here. You sense that director Julian Gilbey realised this and made a film with two dovetailing stories, one about a hard man working his way thru the ranks of the underworld, the other about what might have led to three drug Barron big boys getting blasted to shotgun death one night in a dark country lane. Smart move, it gives his film an edge over other recent one dimensional film's of its ilk.

The top British film magazines have been savage on Rise of the Footsoldier, their critics clearly growing tired of having to sit thru yet another British thug movie. Yet although it clearly isn't the British Goodfella's; as one over keen DVD advertising executive called it, it's still a brutal and savage piece of film making aimed at a particular audience, who, it has to be said, will find tremendous amounts of things to enjoy about it. In many ways it's an ambitious attempt by Gilbey, threading the two stories together is a good move, and largely it works; tho fans of football hooliganism film's should note that this only fills the first ten minutes of the film. He's also tries to make his characters less psychotic than their crimes suggest they are, that doesn't work, but it's top marks for trying. Thus I disagree with those who have poured scorn on it as a piece of "thug porn", a film glorifying the bad seed that festers in society. Gilbey set out to shock, clearly, the subject matter calls for it, but he at least told a good story in the process and didn't shirk the big moments either.

Where it sits in the pantheon of Brit thug movies is to my mind quite high, because I found it riveting, nasty and often uneasy to sit thru. That has to be job done, no? Cast are mostly OK, with some of them familiar faces from other previous ne'er do well portrayals, and the snap-shot of the times is bright and sound-tracked accordingly. It's not a film I could watch with my mother, or even my missus, but the makers wasn't making that sort of film anyway. An acquired taste for sure, but still a tasty treat for those so inclined to the themes cooking in the pot. 8/10

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