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kate_smith_613 February 2004
'Charlie' (Malcolm Needs, 2004)

What irritates me the most about 'Charlie' is the hypocrisy of its argument. The makers of the film fawningly present Richardson as a good decent and innocent man. Why, then, do they revel in showing his vicious criminal activity? The message of this film gets lost in the midst of pretentious formal tics and the most embarrassing courtroom scenes committed to celluloid. For English film culture, all this film represents is sad proof that for every Sam Mendes, there's a Malcolm Needs.

Come on Blighty, we can do better than this!
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A decent, brutal and funny film!
anthonysamuel13 October 2004
I was not expecting much from this film after the reviews I have read. However, I was very surprised to find myself thoroughly enjoying this film.

It is a very English film with some fantastic dark humour. I particularly liked the part where he is to be conscripted into the British Army.

I am not concerned at all as to the historical correctness of the film as it is not claiming to be a documentary. Although, even if only 10% of the tales are vaguely correct then it gives you some idea what life was like for The Krays and Co.

The acting was 'real' and the choice of Luke Goss to play Charlie turned out to be a very good one in my opinion.

Give it a try - but don't watch it with your Granny!
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Great book, shame about the film...
adamjwlane20 April 2004
I first picked up Charlie Richardsons book ' My Manor' a few years ago, and, as the review by 'Punch' said, its a fantastic read. Its extremely witty, hard hitting and sensitive at the same time with an excellent perspective on how stupidly rigid society can be. It provided an excellent insight into his life - all in all propelling me and my girlfirend to drive miles to the first cinema that cropped up in the paper that had its sneak preview.

A wasted journey? Nearly. The film contained none of Charlie's wicked sense of humour, satire and dark wit. It was structured by different characters standing up in court to speak out against Charlie, with snapshots of his life/adventures in between. Good idea in theory but it just didnt work. Luke Goss [ a good actor in my opinion] looked like a Michael Fabricant fresh from a holiday scorcher in Gran Canaria with that daft haircut and perma-tan. His shirts were even worse. No favours done.

What really dampened its attempt at portraying a genuine South London snapshot of 60's gangland was the accents of the actors. Dick Van Dyke's chimney sweep would have been mortified to hear the 'cockney' accents, which sounded more like your average citizen from Sydney, Australia. They were just trying far too hard.

There were a few flashes of quality, for example the scene where train robber to be Charlie Wilson arrives at the scrap yard to pepper their office with shotgun pellets. Charlie and his brother Eddie are in hysterics [ and i mean laughing not crying] in the office, and hide Wilson from the police who arrive at the scrap yard after hearing the racket.

See it if you must, but i recommend the book. Save the petrol.
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A Film So Bad You'd Think It Was Directed By The Kray Twins
Theo Robertson8 July 2013
This had all the makings of a classic Brit flick crime classic . The Richardsons were an infamous gang from South London who had had a reputation for torturing people via pulling their teeth out with pliers and sticking electrodes to sensitive parts of the body . Violently fierce rivals to the Krays they never really stayed in the public consciousness . The Krays were violent flamboyant homosexuals and the Richardsons weren't . This film tries to change all that

Steven Berkoff played Charlie Richardson in a previous film MCVICAR though he had a name change . The Richardsons also appeared in the 1990 biopic THE KRAYS though strangely again they had a name change to the Pelhams . You might remember the scenes they featured in because Berkoff minced around so blatantly he was camper than a row of pink tents . You can't help wondering if Berkoff done this on purpose because he was upset that a couple of pretty boy pop stars the Kemps got star billing and so decided to totally ruin the film by his performance . Considering CHARLIE stars Luke Goss one half of that bloody dreadful manufactured i5 minutes of famers undertalented pop group Bros one wonders what sort of hysterical acting atrocity Berkoff will unleash upon the suffering audience ? Believe it or not Berkoff is the least worst thing about the film

Watching Luke Goss play a violent London gangster is like watching Paterson Joseph play Adolph Hitler in DER UNTERGANG . He has all the menace of a poodle with distemper . In his defence he's not helped by the director Malcolm Needs who's so incompetent the name Special Needs would be more suitable . This alternative universe vision of England seems to be populated by parodies of " cor blimey guv " cockneys or posh people who all speak like Claude Rains in THE INVISIBLE MAN . They're all invariable camp too . Imagine a bunch of Anglican carol singers beating the living daylights out of one another while whispering the F and C words and you just begin to get the flavour of this movie and its graphic scenes of gangland violence . When you've got Mad Frankie Fraser portrayed by someone who thinks he's playing Edmund in the original series of THE BLACK ADDER something has gone wrong somewhere

Words rarely fail me . Adjectives have not yet been invented to describe this Brit crime flick . It features Leslie Grantham in a small role and one wonders if he dressed up as Captain Hook and got a little bit naughty over the internet with a tabloid journalist was to deflect attention that he appeared in this film . Let this be a warning to the rest of the human species - you misbehave , you commit murder , maiming and mutilation , you commit crimes against humanity then Malcolm Special Needs will be making a biopic on you starring next years winner of THE X FACTOR . You have been warned
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miss_ghoulscout66627 March 2006
This has to be rated a 10/10 cos it is an excellent movie. Although there were some parts that were changed or exaggerated on it is almost true to what actually happened!! Most of the actors that played the characters look similar to the actual people involved in the gang. I have read my uncle Eddies' book and my mum has told me all about what happened (as she forbids me from seeing Charlie who is in fact her dad) and the film is rather true to it all. Glad to see my Grandad made such an everlasting impact on Britain! I hope all others that have seen it enjoyed it as much as i do. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who is interested in The Richardson gang. But really i recommend it to everyone i no.
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So, who was this guy again?
MBunge15 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is an extremely stylish and complicated film that makes too many assumptions and takes too little creative license. It assumes the viewer already knows a great deal about infamous 1960s British gangster Charlie Richardson and his even more infamous trial for leading a "torture gang". And as it's structurally all over the map, bouncing back and forth through time and between distinctly different versions of Charlie and his fellow criminals, it refuses to organize his life into any sort of dramatic, thematic or emotional narrative. I came away from this movie with very little understanding of who the main character was or why he was important enough to merit a film about his life.

If you're going to watch this, you should be familiar enough with 1960s crime in Britain to remember both The Great Train Robbery and Charlie's criminal rivals, the Krays. Otherwise, you'll get buried under a blizzard of bewildering references and allusions. Even if you've seen the movies made about his contemporaries, you'll be left somewhat in the dark about Charlie's criminal activities, which are left largely nebulous except for the torture allegations and the film makes those out to be lies and exaggerations. Despite an electrifying performance by Luke Goss as the title character, this motion picture flounders about in the vague and fragmented nature of Charlie and his misadventures.

For example, the single most interesting thing about this story is when Charlie is enlisted by the government of South African to break in and steal the files of anti-Apartheid organizations in London. It builds up to Charlie being asked to spy on the British Prime Minister and then…the whole thing goes away. As presented here, it's not at all clear if Charlie agreed to spy or declined and what happened after either decision. The subplot is just thrown out there and then taken away, both without a resolution or any sense of what it's supposed to say about Charlie and his era.

Writer/director Malcolm Needs also should have chosen to either tell the story of Charlie's life and basically end it with his arrest and trial or tell the story of the trial itself. Instead, he tries to treat each as entirely separate bits of cinema which are intertwined but never blended. If you presented the trial scenes and the rest of the movie individually, you'd think you were watching competing productions of the same story which strangely starred the same guy. It's like seeing segments of Wyatt Earp and Tombstone that have been spliced together with Kevin Costner's face superimposed on Kurt Russell's body.

I always enjoy the working class sensibility of British crime flicks and that comes through here as well. American storytelling imbues law breaking with a transgressive quality that is absent across the pond. The Brits present crime as another vocation, like being a baker or a plumber or a bricklayer, and the criminals aren't outlaws but recognized members of their larger society. That's made clear by how the torture allegations against Charlie and company are treated. Such behavior wouldn't be seen as excessive among American thugs, even in the 1960s, but this film presents those acts as so bizarre and extraordinary that they violate the social compact which tolerates "regular" thievery and violence.

Besides Goss' impressive work, this movie also has a machine gun pace of short, energetic scenes and nicely recreates the looser feel of a bigger and less regulated world. Its failure to define its main character and decide what's the most important thing about him, however, leave it marginally unsatisfying. I wouldn't warn you away from Charlie, but you might want to do some homework before giving it a look.
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A nasty little film about nasty little people
sunznc27 August 2010
The film is about Charlie Richardson and briefly talks about the Kray Twins, the inspiration for James Fox's character in Performance. Organized crime in London.

The film doesn't really offer anything we haven't seen before though. Nothing new here. There are some fairly interesting moments here and there but the producer and director seem to want to focus more on the torture scenes. These scenes are the boldest.

The rest is tired stuff we've seen in 100 other films prior to this. Be better off watching Performance. At least there is more style to that- more imagination. This is actually pretty dry.
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Gee this one's a a turkey
rtaylor9008 March 2004
I have spent a lot of time in Camberwell and know the Richardson stories that have been around for years, but Malcom Needs lost the plot with this so called pic of the Richardsons. Charlie Richardson must have cringed if he saw how he was portrayed in this dreadful movie. Luke Goss isn't a bad actor as it happens but was miscast here although it will do him no harm, most of the ensemble were good but the script was so bad I was thankful for the pop tunes slipped in like an episode of Heartbeat. The South African thing veered off course continuously and the scrapyard looked more like it was run by Frasier, with a shiny new engine block hanging from above. Sorry but I would only rate this movie 2/10
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Some like it, some hate it. I loved it!
bridgersam12 February 2004
After reading the polarised critics reactions I had to go and see it for myself. Overall I was impressed. On the upside I thought it well acted, especially by Goss and Curran, and pacy with some original scenes. The sound track also worked well with the film. On the downside one or two of the scenes looked a little hurried and it may have benefitted from more of a traditional story line approach. This may have been the result of it being an independent so possibly having limited funds. It's a pity it is only being shown in London as this one will, I think, stand the test of time.
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a good true-crime biography, but a little bit thin on details
mitchum_unscented2 March 2006
The strengths of this movie are Luke Goss as the Charlie, and the truth, or at least believability, of the history. The film shifts back and force between Charlie's life as he tells it, and as it is portrayed by the prosecution during his trial. In one version he is respectable thief, stealing primarily from the government, and all-around nice guy. In the other he is a viscous sadist, torturing anyone who displeases him. In both versions he is charming, clever, and competent.

The movie's main weakness is the way that the story skips through small events without ever giving you the big picture. None of the other characters are developed much, and you don't see the progress of his relationships with the other gang members nor how he builds his business. Although the film is only 95 minutes long, it feels longer because it crams so many short scenes in. But because the scenes are disconnected and repetitive, it misses much of the story.

If the film was fiction, I wouldn't have enjoyed it, but as a true story it is fascinating.
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Don't expect to sympathise ... expect to be impressed
Theonlygwen15 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw Luke Goss acting in Blade 2, and considering the make up he had on I guess that was quite an exploit I thought "hey that one's acting real good !" That's how I landed on Charlie, which came unadvertised in France, besides the fact that the characters it is based on are utterly unknown here. I gave a 10/10 to this film mainly because of the acting. On the whole, the "trial-structure" with flashbacks is quite conventional, yet the filming and the scenario are well-knit, and as regards the image, the contrast between the British greys and blue tones with the blinding and warm colours of South Africa are particularly well conveyed. One does not escape a feeling of unease since virtually NO message is conveyed. Through positive and mainly negative people talking about Charlie Richardson and the flash back scenes, the viewer is maintained at a certain distance of the character. I guess that's the reason why many viewers consider this movie as a failure : it does not seek sympathy and simply presents scenes of which we are not really told how true they are. There is virtually no personal insight in Charlie Richardson's personality, only a patchwork of different scenes, personal and criminal, and even the comments the actor makes do not convey a personal impact. This is maybe the force of this film : though not claiming for a documentary dimension, it does achieve the effect by its coldness. If it's on purpose, that's brilliant As far as the acting is concerned, the whole cast is regularly good, and Luke Goss is outstanding. As pointed out in other comments, he impersonates Charlie Richardson with great passion and does convey an impression of grim humour and dangerousness, with complexity. I would add that Charlie Richardson himself approved of his being cast for the role on meeting him, and "fell for the guy".

By the way, as for those who would like to know, yes, even with this hairstyle, he is damn hot :P ( sorry, one remains a human being, even before a gangster movie :)
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good job
filmqueensland30 September 2017
i liked the film, not the violence but understand thats the story.. the cinematography was good, the lighting was good, audio was good, acting was good, its a professionaly made film.. at first i thought oh no not a pretty boy pop star playing the part of charlie richardson, but fair dos to Luke Goss he does a bloody good job, and following his acting career i think Luke Goss is a good skillful actor. who could use some better roles in the future. and to be honest id rather watch a film made in europe any day over all the USA bullshit, no offence to our yankee friends but sick to the back teeth of heroes saving the world with 2 seconds left on the poxy clock...
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Gubby-Allen6 February 2004
Very very good film on the life of Charlie Richardson & presented from a very interesting & often convincing angle. Good acting all round, particularly Luke Goss who is absolutely magnificent as Charlie & deserves some good fortune. The time flew by, the story was gripping throughout & the references to other events & figures of the era were well inserted. If there were criticisms the ending seemed a bit of a rush job & left a few ends untied, the juke box court hearing for Frankie Fraser & the brother especially needed clearing up & once or twice the film seemed to jump unnecessarily from story / era to story / era when a little more chronology may have been better. It would also have been good to see what happened to the rest of the gang but hopefully that will come with the DVD. Overall, there was so much possibility with the plot & the angle the film could feasibly have lasted 3 or 4 hours & kept me interested but no doubt a lot had to be sacrificed in the making of it. But despite the story only arguably scratching the surface of the character it was a fantastic film & well well worth a watch. The best of the English (Snatch, Lock Stock type) films of this genre I've seen.

A high 8/10.
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mason_mark6 February 2004
Another month, another low-rent British gangster thriller.

Like Circus/Rancid Aluminium/Gangster Number 1/Love Honour and Obey et al, Charlie is a poorly made Tarantino rip-off that plays more like a rushed GCSE media project than classics like Reservoir Dogs or Kill Bill. Tarantino's genius lies in his masterful balancing of razor-sharp dialogue, eye-popping style and brilliant storytelling technique. Charlie, on the other hand, features leaden expletive-ridden dialogue, unimaginative violence and mockney posers in cheap suits.

The film's argument is extremely one-sided. The storytelling is scattershot and confused. It's not a film that the audience can ever really 'get into'. Because of this, watching the film becomes very tiresome. Every cliche imaginable is used, often several times.

Luke Goss comes across more like an angry Grattan's Catalogue model than a hard-as-nails gangster, although at times he shows some potential. In a better movie he could be an actor to watch. Charlie isn't that movie. The rest of the cast are uniformly weak.

The film's violence is excessive, and handled in a very childish way. It's like the director wants to shock the audience, but makes the mistake of going to the extent to which we lose any sympathy with Goss' character.

Attempts at humour are poorly handled and are actually offensive - one 'gag' in particular is extremely racist and condescending.

I'd give this film 1 out of 10. Watch The Krays instead - it's a lot better than this.
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Another kick in the teeth for British film
Mike Hammond17 July 2006
I think those reviewers who gave this pathetic effort more than one star must have been watching a different version to the one I watched. Even one star is a stretch. Quite frankly if this is the standard we can expect from the British Film industry then no wonder it doesn't do as well as we all hope. The acting was shocking, the script was pathetic (if your offended by profanity leave this off your list - the F or C word must have appeared in every other sentence. And despite the film's subject this was completely OTT), and the plot progression laughable. But then what can you really expect from a movie starring one of the Goss twins, Dirty Den and Brian May's Mrs? Oh and why the hell did Steven Berkoff agree to do this?!!!
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A poor and disappointing film
michael.will17 August 2005
Advertised as a companion piece to the splendid "The Krays", as an historical crime thriller about the doings of the Richardson gang on the other side of the Thames. What a dull bunch. Plenty of (reduntant) gory torture scenes of rival thugs, but zilch action and suspense. Mild interest with some half-realized exposure of South Africa's Apartheid and its connection to the British mob, but it plays like a throw-away subplot. Even the director's use of great 50s/60s period music is utterly clueless -- he actually backgrounds the flashback scenes of 40s post-war childhood in urban Britain with a surfing tune! Luke Goss, in the lead role, is quite sneeringly tough, but gives a new definition to "one note". Late in the film, we're supposed to believe that he's aged about 18 years, but he still looks awfully young to me, with that gym build that he insists on showing off at every opportunity like a porn star. Like in that dream sequence where he's cut his wrists in the bathtub... couldn't believe how jarred I was with such intense character summation, and relieved to find out that it was "only a dream". Truly, films do not come worse than this one.
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Cheap production
w85ur16 February 2004
I was not impressed with this movie at all. The very cheap production was very noticeable. The feeling is of a TV documentary, possibly something from National Geographic.

The only reason I went to see this movie is because an user here on IMDB compared this movie with my all time favourites 'Lock Stock...' and 'Snatch'. Do not be confused, 'Charlie' can't be compared with the said movies in any way whatsoever.

The only thing worth seeing in this movie was Luke Goss performance as 'Charlie'. Very realistic and performed with a lot of passion.

The lingering images in my mind are the gory and realistic torture scenes of various individuals.

I would not recommend this movie to my worst enemies; my friends even less.
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Pretty Average
ColinG120011 February 2004
Charlie is a film that never lives up to its potential. With an actor like Paul Bettany in the lead role, and a director of higher calibre, it could have been a very impressive work. Charlie turns out to be a rather unpleasant little movie that plods along from scene to scene with no real narrative focus. This is Charlie's greatest fault: the film goes nowhere and as a result creates indifference in the viewer. The direction is pedestrian at best, lacking the film making fireworks that defines the hugely watchable gangster capers of Guy Richie and Martin Scorsese. I'd give this film 2 out of 10.
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Cool Film
wilkinsontrev17 February 2004
This is a cool film with excellent performances all round. I loved the way it flashed back from the court scenes and wouldn't want to meet the man himself in a dark alley! For me it captured the gangster thinking of the day, how they saw themselves in their little world and the people around them. I gave it 8/10.
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Wow, what a shame
moritz222 July 2004
Okay, I grew up in Bethnal Green East London and I have to say that nobody and I mean nobody sounds like that! Goss did a good job, really with what he had around him he did okay, but South Africa? What was going on? Literally you can pick the scenes that are shot there it's like they are another colour or something? Have you been to East London? It's grey, very dark and gloomy and that's in July. In this movie the sun is shining every day, it's blinding, you can feel it. Seriously guys it could have been great, really, maybe SA is cheap or something but come on, keep it real please! Nice effort I'm sure you guys all worked hard but come on you can do better than that right?
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mini review
clarecookwood6 February 2004
This is a British movie through and through, and something that we should be proud of - it's not often we get home grown films of this calibre. After getting a sneak preview at the premiere this Monday it's a slick, classy gangster movie with fantastic performances from Luke Goss (charlie richardson) and Chris Curran (frank frasier). Go and see it for yourself - just be prepared for the swearing!
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This film is very POOR.
ipidydafoo23 March 2004
In the 60's, London was ruled by two gangs: The Krays...and The Richardsons....Lead by the notorious Charlie. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.........After watching the lastest London gangster film I looked at my watch & said to myself "What a waste of 90 mins". This film really is poor, poor in every way, acting, script, direction, everything, This is the first film by Malcolm Needs that I have seen (I know he's only made two) & I hope it's my last, I was squirming in my seat at every word, what is it with British gangster movies, we just can't do it, When you watch the Americans do it you believe it, you believe the nutters in those films would stab you in the neck with a pen just for the fun of it. This film is "A True Story", will I don't care how true it is, it's rubbish. Malcolm Needs to go back to Film School or Malcolm Needs a head transplant, I Needs a drink !!.
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Loved It
hampstedway19 February 2004
Went to see Charlie last night and loved it. Luke Goss is stunning in the lead role, He was also very good it Blade 2 another English actor we can be proud of. Well worth a trip to the cinema.

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