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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.92%
Average: 2.56%
Pretty Bad: 2.56%
Total Crap: 19.23%

3 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Green Street Hooligans
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by Scott Weinberg

"Remind me NEVER to visit a football match in the UK!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Not long ago I saw a pretty solid Brit flick entitled "The Football Factory." It's a look into the world of UK football hooliganism, and while I found the subject matter pretty damn fascinating, I felt the movie lacked that personal edge that separates great films from the pretty good ones. Fortunately there's another new film that broaches the same subject - one that brings some real humanity to such anarchic subject material. "Hooligans" recently won several awards at the 2005 SXSW Film Festival, and I've no trouble understanding why.

Raised in the lovely American town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I was taught that OUR sports fans were among the most vocal, the most passionate, and (occasionally) the most ornery sports fans in the country. Well, that may be true, but after seeing what goes on in Lexi Alexander's smoothly entertaining Hooligans - I'm beginning to think that even the most hardcore American sports fans have nothing on our friends across the pond. The UK football fans can reach levels of physical insanity generally unseen outside of riots, fires or earthquakes.

I suppose it's the inherent passion for the local team, combined with each small town's close proximity to one another, that allows UK football hooliganism to thrive. But thrive it does, and woe is the non-brawler who happens to show up at the wrong football match on the wrong afternoon. Stripped down to its barest essence, 'hooliganism' is what happens when fans of Team A meet up with fans of Team B...and then beat the absolute crap out of each other in the streets. Clearly this is an activity for the angry young men, but it tends to plaster a few black eyes onto entire communities every weekend.

Devotion and passion for one's hometown team is, indeed, an entertaining and admirable thing to see, but these young football fans take it to a degree that's just horrifying.

Young Matt Buckner is about to graduate from Harvard when he chooses to take a fall for his roommate. Summarily expelled for a nasty drug habit that's not even his, Matt hightails it over to England, where he hopes to spend some quiet decompression time with his big sister. It only takes about 45 seconds before Matt is knee-deep in the "hooligan culture," as he strikes up a quick friendship with a charming ruffian called Pete.

Pete's mates don't take to the Yank right away, but Matt proves his mettle during an alleyway brawl, and boom - he's one of the gang. Matt is so quietly thrilled with his loyal new pals that he ignores the basic common sense that says "Hey, bare-knuckled alleyway brawls are not exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle." But the comradeship and constant adrenalin rush work as their own narcotic, and Matt's more than happy to join in the fray.

And then things turn really ugly...

So while I was enjoying the heck out of Hooligans, I found myself wondering what made this flick a marked improvement over The Football Factory. And one of the answers I came up with was: Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam.

If you're looking for an actor to capture youthful idealism mixed with tentative insecurity, then Elijah Wood should be atop your list. Sure, it might take a few minutes before you can stop seeing Mr. Wood as "good ol' Frodo," but this actor's got real chops, and he absolutely deserves to be seen as more than just Hobbit-like. He's the heart, the soul, and the anchor of Hooligans and Wood just nails his role in scene after scene.

And even better than Wood's performance is that of Charlie Hunnam as Pete; at first glance his character seems like little more than an irredeemable thug, a posturing tough guy who lives to humiliate and belittle. But as Hooligans goes on, you'll find yourself absolutely hypnotized by Hunnam's performance. He's equal parts ignorant, loyal, scary, charming, confused and fragile. Perhaps best known from his excellent work in the criminally underrated Nicholas Nickleby adaptation from a few years back, this Charlie Hunnam kid is absolutely poised to become a huge star. And soon.

There's great support work all around; Claire Forlani (a British actress playing an American living in Great Britain) delivers some of her best work in years; her husband is played by Marc Warren, and this is another new face who absolutely owns the screen. In only a few scenes Warren is able to make you care deeply for his (admittedly flawed) character, and this helps to make the peripheral subplots just as compelling as are the non-stop fisticuffs.

One of Hooligans best perspectives comes in relation to the numerous fight scenes. First-time director Lexi Alexander takes great pains to make sure that the brawls are cinematically exciting - while never allowing the mayhem to seem too flashy or appealing. That's a really tough balance to strike, and to the director's credit, you certainly won't walk out of Hooligans trolling the alleys, itchin' for a fight.

I'm not exactly sure how well "Hooligans" will succeed here in the States, as we're generally not all that interested in sports stories that aren't A) our own, or B) littered with ponderous cliché. But the movie works resoundingly well as a spotlight onto another country's sports-obsessed culture, plus it's just a damn well-made piece of storytelling, period.

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originally posted: 03/20/05 09:51:48
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/08/12 Marty Suspenseful plot, but spotty acting and script. Great fight scenes and setting. 4 stars
2/28/11 RLan It's a ok film. More about the gang life than football. 3 stars
10/06/10 tiffanys Thank you for your web pages. See that you have updated it. Keep up the good work. [URL= 5 stars
11/03/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
7/20/07 Old Bill Hunter So Mr R Anderson yose lot won th Battle of Britain, The Desert Campain and Burma ? Nah 4 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Oh yes, let's all kiss americas arse. You were very late both times, Ronnie anderson. 1 stars
12/03/06 jordan.b it was wicked and there was loads of blood my faviort is the mager 5 stars
11/15/06 Ronnie Anderson The British are so stupid. We saved your behinds twice already. 5 stars
11/08/06 haylz absolutly amazing best film iv ever seen! 5 stars
10/31/06 Micki best film eva made cr wait till green street 2 cums out n defo pete is fit as anyfin eva!!! 5 stars
10/24/06 Melissa Lang Best film ever pete is a fine thing 5 stars
10/22/06 William Goss Mildly melodramatic towards the end, but relatively engaging overall. 3 stars
10/18/06 Katrina VL I loved this movie so much. Good acting and yes, I cried in the end. 5 stars
10/11/06 Jordan LOVED IT. It was amazing, and I love the loyalty inside the firms. 5 stars
10/10/06 JM people grow up in many different ways; the ending could have/should have been different 5 stars
10/08/06 Hinano Top movies thats for sure. I need to go to the uk for a football match. 5 stars
8/25/06 Zidane Football is war! 5 stars
8/18/06 [tartan army] laughable tht americans think we wouldnt batter fuck out of any US boy comin to our matches 1 stars
8/14/06 Jack Excellent film, really makes you think 5 stars
8/11/06 jonjon the guy who wrote the review, has he ever been to a fight between 2 firms? his review sucks 4 stars
6/20/06 daniel gunn good over all very good acting abit sad at the end 5 stars
6/19/06 TreeTiger A semi-sentimental piece of SOCCER/hooligan bull shee-eit... 2 stars
5/04/06 Travis Butler One of my top 5 favrites for sure. 5 stars
4/17/06 Ismail Ali A very good movie(fantastic) 5 stars
4/10/06 Pedro PPaiva The guy that wrote this review is a huge asshole that doesn't understand football 5 stars
12/18/05 clare fuckin excellent!pete is so sexy and all 17 of my mates luv him,luv to meet him!!such a buz 5 stars
11/06/05 natasha loved it made me cry wen pete died 5 stars
10/26/05 iop Not so bad 4 stars
10/12/05 Dominic P yea its good im glad it captured what its really like down here 4 stars
10/07/05 Rikkert No US citizen understands the passion that British and European fans have for FOOTBALL! 5 stars
10/06/05 Suicide Squad ok film but if it was real frodo would have been killed by those brummy fans hahaha 4 stars
10/04/05 j i think this film was gd 10/10 n charlie hunnam looked HOT 5 stars
9/30/05 Jakub poop 1 stars
9/30/05 DW LUFC - Welcome to the beautiful game 5 stars
9/13/05 steven badass film 5 stars
9/12/05 Jan Well-acted, powerful movie which shows the ultimate futility of violence 4 stars
9/11/05 Z.Ulu-Brum ISF, your havin a laugh. 4 stars
9/09/05 WHUFC Congratulations You Just Meet The ISF 5 stars
9/07/05 Andy This film is terrible. Elijah Wood would get his teeth kicked out at an english game. 1 stars
8/26/05 Charlie H Scarily spot on. I know people who do this every weekend... 5 stars
8/12/05 Tom THis is what soccer is all about none of this soccer mom BS. STAND YOUR GOUND FOR YOU TEAM 5 stars
8/03/05 Kai This stuff is real! 5 stars
7/27/05 Dustin awesome movie, loved every minute 5 stars
7/15/05 Lara Great, fantastically gritty movie 5 stars
6/18/05 tomemk this is studpid !!! 1 stars
6/14/05 Dori Good Story + Strong Acting = Completely satisfying film 5 stars
6/07/05 tom it was useless 4 stars
4/21/05 hm It is wonderful. 5 stars
4/18/05 Chris Excellent Film 5 stars
4/18/05 Cass Pennant=real one I used by cunts ,watch The Firm or footiefactory 1 stars
4/18/05 steve stone This film sucks ..,it was refused a release in UK as NIL/Decline 1 stars
4/10/05 Kip Smedley Amazing film. 5 stars
3/28/05 Cass Pennant Excellent film. Very realistic. 5 stars
3/22/05 GJ Great film, great script. Bravo first time writer Dougie Brimson! 5 stars
3/22/05 Cheri AWESOME! Elijah & Charlie blew me away! 5 stars
3/21/05 bp Half an interesting look at a subculture, half a ridiculous, implausible melodrama 2 stars
3/19/05 Ned awful drivel 1 stars
3/18/05 Nadia Kotula By far the vest narrative film at the festival. Charlie Hunnam was remarkable in this film 5 stars
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  09-Sep-2005 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jun-2006



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