Inside Pulse DVD Review – Green Street Hooligans

DVD available at Amazon.com

Director:

Lexi Alexander

Cast:

Elijah Wood……….Matt Buckner
Charlie Hunnam……….Pete Dunham
Claire Forlani……….Shannon Dunham
Marc Warren……….Steve Dunham
Leo Gregory……….Bovver
Geoff Bell……….Tommy Hatcher

Warner Bros. Home Video and Odd Lot Entertainment present Green Street Hooligans. Written by Alexander, Dougie Brimson and Josh Shelov. Running time: 108 minutes. Rated R (for brutal violence, pervasive language and some drug use). Released on DVD: June 13, 2006.

The movie:

Take the romance out of West Side Story and what do you have? Two gangs who don’t get along. Now imagine the Jets and the Sharks as a bunch of cocksure men in London who revel and gallivant and bleed soccer, uh, football. Football clubs, of course, have rabid followers, but they also have “firms”. A firm is an organized gang that engages in fights with firms of opposing football clubs. The brawls occur far from the stadium, a place where police is at a minimum. No law enforcement, no interruptions.

Almost like a small militia, these hooligans usually do not carry guns, instead favoring bricks, bats and knuckles. The violence of each skirmish is intense and sadistic. Bruises are the least of their worries. When the dust settles, gang members return to their normal lives as husbands and fathers, clerical workers and other 9-to-fivers.

What compels these beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking men to fight? These gangs aren’t in it for the money. British firms are addicted to the glory and violence of it all.

Green Street Hooligans doesn’t sugarcoat the bloodshed. The movie opens with a subway showdown between the firms representing West Ham United and Tottenham. The intense hatred is so strong that the fight escalates to street level terrain. Two men brawling on an overturned red telephone box highlights the knockdown-dragout.

Across the pond, Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood), an intelligent Harvard student, is kicked out of the Ivy League school two months before graduation; his WASP roommate, with a $10,000 envelope, coerces him into taking the rap for some cocaine found in their dorm. The expulsion is enough to motivate Matt into seeing his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani) in London. A change of scenery is the best thing that could have ever happened to him.

Before Matt can settle in and catch up with Shannon, her husband Steve (Marc Warren) arrives home after a hard day in the white-collared world. He wants some alone time with the wife, so he forces his little brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam) to take Matt to a football match. Essentially a stranger in a strange land, Matt can’t understand why football is so beloved. He’s a baseball fan. Not wanting to punch him between the eyes, Pete and the “Yank” engage in an argument of words. Pete fills him in on a little secret about baseball.

Matt: What are you talkin’ about, baseball is a girl’s game? The Red Sox has a guy that pitches the ball over 90 miles per hour!

Pete: Who cares? All that means is that he can have a wank faster than you.

Jokes aside, Green Street Hooligans is not all fun and games. The movie is about grown men who feel a sense of belonging as a part of a firm. Little by little Matt tries to immerse himself and be accepted by Pete’s firm, the GSE (Green Street Elite). This includes fighting fist-to-fist at their side, which he does with a girly stance. When the blood trickles out of his mouth and soaks through his clothes, he just feels right. Years of journalism studies at Harvard are nothing compared to the school of hard knocks. And kicks.

The GSE live with memories of the glory days. Years ago, the group was led by a scrapper known only as the Major. Its biggest rivalry was with Millwall. The intensity of the brawls, particularly one, was so vicious that matches between West End and Millwall have not been scheduled for a decade. While Shannon is horrified that Matt has been bruised and bloodied, she cannot impede on his addiction.

Matt may be engrossed with the hooligan mentality, but his love of writing has not diminished. He keeps a journal and writes paragraphs detailing the events that transpire during a given day. His time spent with the firm has awakened something within; confidence has been renewed. Matt’s life as the spineless Ivy Leaguer seems pretend; reality is bonding with smug, cocky London natives and beating the ever-loving hell out of opposing firms.

With the criticism he got from those who thought Frodo in the Lord of the Rings was too much of a wuss, Elijah Wood has tried to take on roles where the characters have some bite. Kevin, the martial artist-cannibal in Sin City, validates this point. As an aspiring journalist his character is necessary because a) it’s a plot point, and b) it gives him more credence as the story’s narrator. Telling the viewer about his life in a firm, “I gotta be honest – it grew on me. Once you’ve taken a few punches and realize you’re not made of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you’re pushing yourself as far as you can go.”

That’s probably what director Lexi Alexander, a German woman and former kickboxing champion, thought when she was competing in the squared circle. The kinetic energy of that sport has been bottled and unleashed in the battles on Green Street. The fights literally leap of the screen. Viewers may be inclined to check their teeth, make sure they are all intact.

Without the violence, there’s a backstory of tragedy and secrets, which leads to the possibility of death. Unwavering loyalty to the mob clouds individual judgment to the point where the “live to fight another day” saying is nowhere to be found in their lexicon. It’s a sad state of affairs when death makes the GSE and opposing firms recognize the bedlam they have instigated.

Score: 7/10

The DVD:

THE VIDEO
(Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen)

Lexi Alexander’s picture is a tapestry of monochromatic colors. The blacks and grays help illustrate the football firm culture. The fights are punctuated with the color of crimson. The color of blood. Aside from a small artifact issue during one of the overhead zooms, there are no noticeable defects. Grain is minimum. Overall, the DVD has a solid video transfer.

Score: 8/10

THE AUDIO
(English Dolby Digital 5.1)

The GSE may not know kung fu, but the punches and kicks they throw have presence, which give the viewer’s eardrums one hell of a wallop. Alternative rock songs and a melancholic score by Christopher Franke give Green Street Hooligans weight. The football matches are full of vigor and atmosphere, immersing you in the action. Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are included, as well.

Score: 8/10

SPECIAL FEATURES: Lacking, big time.

Released in US theaters last September, Hooligans made about $0 at the box office. So, Warner Bros. thought it best to not include many supplemental features.

There’s a small making-of featurette (6:10) that is strictly EPK material. Used to promote the movie prior to its release in theaters, the feature includes comments by cast and crew intercut MTV-style with clips from the final cut. Lexi Alexander and Elijah Wood are the two most vocal participants. They outline the feature for viewers who, in all likelihood, have just watched the movie.

Except for the Warner Bros. advertisements for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Everything is Illuminated that play when the disc loads, the only other extra is a music video for Terence Jay’s “One Blood.”

Score: 2/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Green Street Hooligans
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

2
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)