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The Hooligan Factory

North American Premiere
  • U.k.
  • 2014
  • 89 mins
  • DCP
  • English
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Danny (Jason Maza) has had it pretty rough. Living with his grandfather ever since his long-estranged and legendary football hooligan of a father Danny Senior (Ronnie Fox) was slammed with a 30-year sentence for stabbing a club scout with a pen, Danny’s wanted nothing more from life than to walk in Senior’s footsteps. Turns out he might just get the chance to, when Grandpa decides he’s had enough, moves to Australia and leaves Danny homeless and too proud to do anything about it. As fate would have it, the equally legendary hooligan Dexter (director Nick Nevern) gets released from prison at the same time. It isn’t long before street-wandering Danny bumps into Dex, who introduces him to his gang of yore (now part-time florists, of all things): ladies’ man Midnight (Ray Fearon), the cocaine-addicted Trumpet (Morgan Watkins), the paranoid Weasel (Josef Altin) and muscleman Bullet (Tom Burke). So begins Danny’s new life of hooliganism, as the crew embarks on a quest to relive to good ol’ days, while exacting revenge on their life-long nemesis The Baron.

What Edgar Wright did for zombies, cops and pub crawls, actor/director Nick Nevern does here, in his own way, for hooligans — that particular kind of boorish, loud-mouthed, shit-kicking, brawl-seeking football fan (or should we say thug?) usually banding in gangs, or “firms,” and whose underlying presence is central to European sports culture and the legends surrounding it. A dynamic, parodist plunge into that particularly male, regional and unique tradition of disturbing the peace, THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY unfolds at quite the breakneck pace, taking more than a few strands of both Wright’s and Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking DNA — circa GOODFELLAS, specifically, in the use of dynamic tracking shots and engaging voice-over narration. Overall, it is an affectionate spoof of films on football hooliganism such as Alan Clarke’s THE FIRM (1989), I.D. (1995), THE FOOTBALL FACTORY (2004) or CASS (2008), crafted with much love and knowledge of the genre and showing the absurdity (and even the tragedy) of a culture which seems to have exceeded its purpose. Finally, THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY is a hell of a good time for sports fans and aficionados of British comedy alike.

— Ariel Esteban Cayer