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The Firm [DVD]

4.2 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Philip Davis, Steve Sweeney
  • Directors: Alan Clarke
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Prism Leisure Corporation
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Feb. 2004
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000171RXQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,018 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Gary Oldman stars in this controversial BBC drama, playing a middle-class professional who leads a double life as the leader of the Inner City Crew, a gang of notorious football hooligans. Determined to unite British gangs for the inevitable clashes against foreign fans in the forthcoming European Championships, he comes up against the brutal opposition of a rival mob, as well as the growing suspicions of his unwitting family.

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These days people are dangerously nostalgic about the sinister tackiness of the 1980s, but there's no stiffer antidote to such delusion than Alan Clarke's The Firm. This unforgettable film was made as a one-off drama for the BBC in 1988, but its cult following has grown steadily through video, thanks to a startling central performance from a young Gary Oldman, and the riveting manner in which Clarke captures the lethal, mindless energy of football hooliganism.

Oldman plays Clive "Bexy" Bissell, working-class East London boy done good: a prosperous estate agent, proud homeowner, happy husband and doting father. But his chief pleasure is to be team leader ("top boy") of a bunch of overgrown yobs who attend football matches in order to cause violence. At weekends Bexy leads his "Inter City Crew" into rucks with rival warlords such as Yeti (Phil Davis) and Oboe (Andrew Wilde), in search of what he calls "the buzz", no matter the cost to his young family and his future prospects.

The Firm was entirely shot on SteadiCam, enabling Clarke to drop the viewer right into the thick of the action and exploit some hair-raisingly authentic rowdiness from his talented cast. Among these thugs, soap fans will spot Eastenders' Steve McFadden and Charlie Lawson of Coronation Street. The Firm is a masterpiece of social-realist drama, and one of the most virulently anti-Thatcherite films of its time. An avid supporter of Everton FC, Clarke responded to Al Hunter's script because he felt that the vicious idiots spoiling football were a new breed of disgrace. The tabloids raised a stink about the film's violence, and the BBC delayed its broadcast until 1989. A year later, Alan Clarke died of cancer, But The Firm is a tremendous last testament from the finest English director of his generation. --Richard Kelly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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After watching this drama, one cannot be surprised at the global acting acclaim Gary Oldman later achieved. The young Oldman delivers a terrifyingly realistic portrayal of a well-heeled leader of a gang of football hooligans. Under Alan Clarke's direction, not a second of film is wasted: repeated watching will constantly reveal new details and refinements of plot and character missed on previous viewings.
The thrills and exuberance of 1980s football hooliganism are vividly captured by a well-researched script. Oldman's character devotes his life to West Ham's Inter City Firm (ICF), as it was in its 1980s heydey. Many details of the ICF portrayed in The Firm are realistic: the movement consisted largely of autonomous groups who united under the ICF banner on match days; and the ICF were - at the time - the most feared hooligan firm in the country.
The drama focuses on the attempts of Oldman's character to unite England's warring firms (in the manner that the ICF united the West Ham firms), but his national ambitions bring him into vicious conflict with rivals in London and Birmingham.
As a footnote, those interested in exploring the history of the real ICF could find insight in the autobiographical books of Cass Pennant. Like Pennant's books, The Firm captures the sentimentalism (and even, in strange sense, the innocence) of old-style football hooliganism.
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Finally, a decent DVD release for this classic of British cinema from back in the days where the BBC produced such quality teleplays on a regular basis. Preceding Shane Meadows and Danny Boyle, Alan Clarke was arguably Britain's most exciting and vital filmmaker, and surely its most controversial. The Firm is probably his best film, and sadly also his last, as he passed away while prepping a feature film in America. It showcases him at both his most focused and his most uncompromising, and probably presents as his most recognisable. His fascination with violence is at its most unflinching here, a progression from his previous film Elephant (inspiration for the Gus Van Sant film of the same name) which was comprised completely of murders and featured no dialogue. What's frightening about the violence in this film is that these men have decent jobs and family lives, and get into rucks because they like it, pure and simple. His trademark steadicam shots are in abundance too. In fact, practically the whole film is shot in this manner, painstaking work though it may have been for the poor cameraman! Save for a few close-ups, most of the film is presented with a kind of immediate closeness that really puts you right in the middle of things without getting involved, a bewildered onlooker unable to help. The Firm runs the gamut of negative emotions, from the fear for the safety of schoolboy Yusef as he runs from men twice his age to the guilty rush of adrenaline we feel as Bex and his boys head into battle. The cast is on top form here, with Gary Oldman in a career-best performance and his then-wife Lesley Manville excellent as a spouse almost as bad as her husband for putting up with his antics.Read more ›
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Compelling story of Yuppie hoolie Bex (a moustached Gary Oldman) and his battle with rival top boy Yeti (a pony-tailed Phil Davis) to lead England's firm at their next European awayday.

Directed by the much missed Alan Clarke, a specialist in gritty, hard hitting, realistic drama; this film (supported by the BBC) made headlines at the time for exposing the myth that all football hooligans postcarded their violent intentions by dressing like boot boys, scarves on wrists and all. The irony of the sight of lads fighting in the latest designer gear was completely lost on the majority of middle England at the time.

The main character Bex is a smart, intelligent, respectable married man in a good job who's pastime is leading a crew known as the ICC (sic ICF?) at the weekends; a true product of Thatcher's Britain.

His wife (Oldman's real wife back then, Lesley Manville) is semi-oblivious to his exploits, although he is ably egged on by his admiring working-class dad.

Various well-known faces past and present crop up throughout the film, and there's a bit of a soap theme as Corrie's Jim McDonald and EastEnders' Phil Mitchell join in for the rucks and a bit of cockney banter.

The characters are far more believable than those in the current crop of hoolie films, yes even more than "The Football Factory" so beloved of the Loaded/FHM brigade out there. The scene where Bex lays into one of his own new boys, when he doubts he has the stomach to stand and fight when it matters, is very difficult to watch; control through the threat of fear is the priority in the mind of the hardened thug.
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The Firm is still by far and away the best of the "Hooligan" genre. Gary Oldman's performance as Bex is truly disturbing and you are genuinely scared of running into this guy.
Bit dated now but still a top film
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