We are back again with another hooligan film review but this time Greenway Entertainment have stepped up their game from Essex Boys: Law of Survival, as I Am Hooligan improves on many of the flaws that the previous movies had in spades.
The story is simple. Justin, a young lad from a rough estate is suffering with a wife-beating father and a tough life. Justin gets into a crowd of football hooligans and finally feels a part of something, what originally was just some new found friends, quickly turns into an addictive life of crime, escalating violence and frequent punch ups.
Compared to Essex Boys: Law of Survival and Hooligans at War, I Am Hooligan wipes the floor with the previous across the board. From cinematography to a storyline that keeps you entertained throughout its duration. Every negative point I picked up from the previous two hooligan films has been addressed and it really shows in the final quality of this flick. Don’t get me wrong this film is far from perfect, but there are only some minor setbacks which include some strange audio choices (that I’m told have been rectified in the final cut) and camera angles that just drop the quality and impact of certain scenes somewhat, but as a whole it’s still watchable where-as the other two films, well, we all know how those reviews went!
For a saturated genre, I’m always interested to see what can still be done in terms of the storyline and although the storyline in I Am Hooligan has been done more times than your local knocking shop girls, it was refreshing to see it wasn’t all violence after violence after violence. There was some nice depth to Justin’s character as he develops, as he goes through conflicting emotions and how he handles being under pressure and trying to impress his ‘friends’. For a shoe string budget movie, development of character is something that is often overlooked so it was nice to see this addressed throughout the film.
At times the film feels so polished with scenes shot in Manchester being a personal highlight for me, some good nightlife shots, city centre shots and then it goes and spoils itself by playing opera music at the most random and inappropriate times. I’m sure it was meant to be added for almost a comedy effect but it didn’t make sense to me what so ever. Why play opera when a guy is getting into a brawl unless you’re going to spin it as a comedy? It just didn’t work, and fell as flat and as floppy as the fight scene itself. When tension builds up, it lets off too easily and an anti-climatic and albeit strange ending ruined a good proportion of the film for me, it was so out of place and unneeded and it just came across as slightly lazy script-writing (Apologies) when trying to come up with a suitable ending. Jon Paul Gates character just comes in out of nowhere and pretty much chops the script in half with an axe, it really just wasn’t needed and served as a major distraction to what was up to that point, a nice flowing indie flick.
In terms of the films emotion, at times it made Green Street look like a Disney movie, but for the most part I Am Hooligan was playing the role of Tinkerbell as I just wasn’t convinced in the overall feel of the movie. At times it was trying to give off a grime street scene vibe, the next it’s trying to give off a domestic Eastenders sort of vibe and then the next minute the film went all out Football Factory. I felt as thou I was being thrown from one side of the room to the other as the film never quite settles on one particular feel. It’s unpredictable, so that’s maybe why it kept me hooked but it also alienates the audience somewhat as the film is still trying to make it’s mind up, drawing inspiration from hooligan films that have come and gone in the past before it.
A special mention is needed however for Ryan Regis who plays one of the lead Characters Kevin. Kevin oozes a Noel Clarke Kidulthood / Adulthood vibe throughout, a very convincing performance and one of the stand out stars of the movie.
A step up from the previous and a promising sign of things to come, I Am Hooligan isn’t a perfectly polished product but Greenway Entertainment as a production company are stepping up the quality of these shoe string budget movies and I’m excited to see what is coming in the pipeline.