Rise Of The Footsoldier (18)



Drama (2007)
119mins UK

Starring: Ricci Harnett, Terry Stone, Craig Fairbrass, Roland Manookian, Frank Harper
Director: Julian Gilbey
Writer(s): Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

True story of Carlton Leach, the scourge of the football terraces, who rose through the ranks of the London criminal underworld as a heavy for Jack Whomes. With the rave scene of the late '80s and early '90s exploding around him, Carlton becomes embroiled in deadly power games within the firm, culminating in the infamous shotgun slaying at Rettenden.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Rise of the Footsoldier

Written by brothers William and Julian Gilbey, and directed by the latter, Rise Of The Footsoldier is a bloodthirsty true-life account of violence and retribution in the late '80s and early '90s...

Jimmy G (Ian Virgo) and Big John (Dave Legeno) in The Rise of the Footsoldier. Optimum ReleasingThe narrator is a hooligan who escapes the terraces to stamp his mark (the bottom of his boot) on the burgeoning gangland scene. He's a nasty piece of work, and the same can be said of Gilbey's film, which relishes the violent encounters that pepper the central protagonist's rise to infamy. Male characters are cardboard cut-outs, sketched in the broadest strokes, defined by how much their snarl and swear, or how merrily they torture their enemies. There is no attempt to probe the psychology of this brotherhood of savages, what binds the men or drives them to such horrific actions. Female characters simper and whimper in the background, and should count themselves lucky to have names.

Carlton Leech (Ricci Harnett) in The Rise of the Footsoldier. Optimum ReleasingThe film culminates in the infamous shotgun slaying at Rettenden, which previously inspired the forgettable crime thriller Essex Boys with Sean Bean. "I was a married man but football was my mistress and I played away every weekend," explains bully boy Carlton Leach (Ricci Harnett) in droll voiceover. As a general during the '70s, he leads his firm into battle against rival supporters, sharing the best moments of his life with these men, even joking, "The last time I said I love you was to Eddie after five pints down the local boozer in Canning Town."

As hooliganism escalates out of control, the Tory government attempts to seize back the terraces from the thugs through no-tolerance policing. Carlton recognizes his reign is coming to an end - "There were more Old Bill on the terraces than supporters. I got out just in time." - and he tries his bloodied hand as a bouncer. He is soon peddling drugs inside the Essex clubs and injecting himself full of steroids. With the rave scene exploding around him, Carlton becomes embroiled in deadly power games within the firm, clashing with heavies and their henchmen including Jack Whomes (Frank Harper), Pat Tate (Craig Fairbrass), Tony Tucker (Terry Stone), Craig Rolfe (Roland Manookian) and Mickey Steele (Billy Murray). A turf war fuels the cycle of violence further: "One of my boys was dead and those Turks were about to find out what it was like to be on the wrong end of a kebab knife."

Mickey Steele (Billy Murray) in The Rise of the Footsoldier. Optimum ReleasingRise Of The Footsoldier has nothing to distinguish it from the glut of recent testosterone-pumped thrillers that purport to show the ugly, disfigured face of crimeland Britain. Harnett delivers a solid performance while his co-stars compete to see who can drop the most consonants in between psychotic stares and grimaces. Fight and torture scenes are well choreographed, if gratuitous, especially the assassination at Rettenden, which Gilbey feels compelled to replay three times from different perspectives. Little wonder the running time splutters through the splatter to almost two hours.

- Kim Hu


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