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4.3 out of 5 stars
Rise Of The Footsoldier (2-Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2010
In December 1995, the bodies of three notorious figures in London's gangland, were found in a Range Rover on a snowy country road. They were riddled with bullets. Though two men were eventually convicted of their murder, the real story behind it has remained the subject of speculation, and it was previously treated in film in the Sean Bean thriller Essex Boys. Rise Of The Footsoldier takes a slightly different perspective, basing itself on the memoirs of former thug for hire and sometime gang lieutenant Carlton Leach. As well as providing background to the murders, it supplies a string of anecdotes about the London underworld which comprise a loose account of Leach's own rise to power and his gradual understanding of the horror of the world in which he operated.
Blame Guy Ritchie. The late 90s success of Ritchie's cliché-ridden Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels triggered a series of pitiful gangster movies from which the genre never really recovered. Sadly Rise of The Footsoldier, isn't likely to reverse that trend. Despite a decent lead performance from Hartnett, the film falls victim to all-too familiar East End stereotypes. They're either busy blowing someone's brains out or shagging a scantily-clad blonde. Director Julian Gilbey can certainly deliver a punch, but he seems to have mistaken shock for real emotional impact. This is an excellent attempt to bring something new to the crime genre. Those who can stomach it will find it genuinely thrilling and disturbing a repugnant gangland romp in which a group of Neanderthalic, perpetually gurning ruffians get tooled up with axe handles, baseball bats and Stanley knives then knock ten bells out of each other for just shy of two hours. Ultimately, violence aside, there's not a whole lot to this story, and once viewers have time to catch their breath and realise this they'll find that it starts to drag. Ricci Harnett makes a charismatic narrator and turns in a surprisingly affecting performance as Leach, but when he's absent there's little to hold our attention. Although there's some good solid acting from a cast largely borrowed from Eastenders, they never make us care as much as we should about the murdered men or the mystery relating to them. Again as with al these films I sense a undercurrent of suppressed homo-tendencies. Perhaps that's why there is a need to express this bottled up suppression in bouts of vilence.

Based on a memoir by former gang member and all-round hard case Carlton Leach. This is an unapologetic two hours that aims in vain for epic stature, tracing his career through three decades. Leach began as a West Ham-supporting soccer hooligan in the 1970s: the queasy violence between rival fans in its early scenes thus sustains another unlovable genre. Leach's progress, if that's the right word, involves a stint as a violent club bouncer (1980s), dalliances with various drugs and anabolic steroids, witnessing sundry murderous acts and eventually graduating to a real gang (1990's). In the large cast, women exist solely to be abused, slapped about or used as sexual playthings by these feral boy-men. And rightly so Beginning with Leach's experiences as a football hooligan, Rise Of The Footsoldier embarks on a visual assault comprising the most consistently violent images you will see on the big screen. Forget horror movies, this is real, visceral, eminently imitable violence of the sort which takes place on British streets every drunken weekend but which is, for the most part, blessedly hidden from the eyes of the public. It's an unrepentant attempt to shock the viewer into sitting up and taking notice, though in time it also has a numbing effect, which is, of course, entirely appropriate, because this is how it enables us to get into the mindset of its protagonists. As such, it is much more honest than most urban crime stories. Here even the most charming of villains are shown in full-on nastiness and there's no room for the illusion that they're really nice guys for whom we ought to feel sympathy because they love their dear old mums. When we start to identify with them anyway, this forces us to ask questions about ourselves.
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on 6 November 2012
This film is fantastic, however it is an absolute rollercoaster, blink and you could miss something. Alternativley this film could of been 4 hours long and still had me hooked. Who would of thought when I picked this out of a bargain bin a couple of years ago it would go on to be one of my favourate all time films. Carlton Leach is one of the best movie characters around..obviously I know he is a real person, but the story told in this film is second to none.

To make it even better it comes with an excellent cast of noticable faces who just make this film ten times better. I only remember seeing Ricci Harnett cast as a rogue Army private in 28 Days Later, and to be fair despite being a likable but nasty character in that film he disappeared and I can't remember seeing him again until cast as Carlton Leach in rhis film. He is outstanding to say the very least. A must watch for any hooligan or gang film lovers!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2011
Bought this for my other half and he didn't think it was as great as it was recommended, thought it would be more about west ham but it's about his life with very little reference to west ham. It's not a football hooligan film, it's a gangster film
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2008
Are there Russian subtitles on this DVD. My friend in Russia wants to see this as a darker portrayal of English life, but she will struggle with some of the slang. I rented it, enjoyed it, but forgot to check the subtitles. Thanks in advance:)
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on 17 July 2012
Recommended to me by a friend and based on the autobiography of Carlton Leach, this film starts at the end with the removal of a Range Rover containing the bodies of three men from the woodlands where a multiple gang-land execution had taken place in the Winter of 1995 (known as the Triple Rettendon Murders). It's a well-constructed movie, well-written, well-acted, extremely violent and pulls no punches, but it has to be so because otherwise the message would be lost or blurred. Carlton Leach was involved in the production so one can assume that the film reflects the facts, or at least as intimately as could be expected from a former criminal, once at the top of his game, who will no doubt be prudent in his memoirs. Well worth watching...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2008
Enjoyed this film, despite the violence being relentless and a bit excessive. Dont think I'll be able to look at a Pizza slicer again!

A couple of slight criticisms. Firstly (as mentioned already) the opening 20-30 minutes with voiceovers about his time in the ICF firm. Secondly although I thought the lead actor Ricci Hartnett was good, did think he slightly lacked the charisma for the main role of Carlton Leach. As a result the best scenes were with Terry Stone, Craig Fairbrass and Billy Murray.

Good film though and if you liked Football Factory, Goodfellas and the Business you will like this
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2008
Anyone who rates this less than 4 stars is insane. Having read the books and viewed other interpretations of the Essex "Range Rover" Murders, I figure that this is the best one yet. Granted it is not the best Valentines gift for the girlfriend/wife, but for the blokes an excellent (though disturbing) account. This is about as close as anyone is ever going to get to the truth and the choice of actors to play the relevant parts was bang on. Never seen Ricci Harnet in anything else, but it worked for me. Top Tip: View the DVD extras. This really puts things into perspective.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 2007
Carlton Leach's small budget/independant film release about three decades of his very very dangerous lifestyle; I found personally very true to life,accurate in every aspect covered; As other "Real" man/woman on the street reviewers have stated on many sites / magazines; I honestly did not want the film to end.

The so called professional film reviewers (Failed film producers/directors) who go out of there way to destroy great films like Rise Of The Foot Soldier obviously are running it down 100% I feel sorry for Nick Love; all Four of his films have been slated / destroyed by the so called reviewers/critics but all are fantastic.

I class myself as an amateur modern film buff; I love modern day thrillers / dramas especially gangster films and even better when they are based on true stories.

To end my review I would have to say that Rise Of The Foot Soldier is far better than and in every aspect: Good Fellas, American Gangster, Etc; they are all lame in comparison; Rise Of The Foot Soldier is violently graphic but the reality is that it had to be because of the details of the three decades of Carlon Leach's dangerous life style.

On the extra disc during the interview with the producer; he states that there were parts of the true story / incidents they could not in any way transfer into part of a film story.

Congratulations Julian Gilbey (Director) & Carlton Leach this film had the same effect on me as what Scum had many years ago; a deep,magnetic,detailed,shocking story which made me want to watch the film over and over again.

It deserves much much more recognition and credit than what it actually is getting at the moment.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2008
What can be said about this film. It has it all, sex, violence and loads of drugs yet, it has a lost plot. The film started brightly enough, hooliganism is rife and shows graphic fighting, the scene with the Turks is excellent but then.....that is it. the film loses the plot, plenty of violence nut nothing else. This film had the potential to be the top British gangster film but was ruined by shoddy acting and a bad plot. Despite being a film of true events. maybe more of an insight into the gang activities would have given this film proper recognition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2010
not bad but very disappointing in the lack of detail relating to carlton leach's life and escapades and the actor that played him in the movie bore no resemblance to him whatsoever especially in stature.
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