It’s is just 2 years shy of the 30 years since the Rettenden murders which inspired movies such as Essex Boys, Bonded By Blood, The Fall Of The Essex Boys and of course Rise Of The Footsoldier, which became so popular it’s spawned several sequels and such a rabid following that has now led to the extended “Extreme Edition” being released.
Based on his real-life autobiography, 2007’s /Rise of the Footsoldier follows Carlton Leach (Ricci Harnett, 28 Days Later) as he evolves from feared football terrace general to a member of one of the most notorious British gangs that operated throughout the late eighties and early nineties. Leach had one goal, and one goal only: by the time he reached the top, everyone would know the name Carlton Leach. Rise of the Footsoldier also stars Craig Fairbrass(Cliffhanger), Roland Manookian (RocknRolla), Terry Stone(Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins) and Neil Maskell(Utopia, Bull), and was directed by Julian Gilbey(A Lonely Place to Die) who co-wrote the script alongside Will Gilbey(A Lonely Place to Die).
With no pun intended this is a movie of two halves. The first half follows Carlton Leach as he rises through the ranks of the Inner City Firm of football hooligans to local crime lord. This is probably the more engaging elements of the film as it’s more of a character study in what was probably aimed at a British version of Goodfellas.
Then it skews into the second half where Leach is entangled with the doomed trio of Pat Tate (Craig Fairbrass), Tony Tucker (Terry Stone) & Craig Moore (Roland Manookian). It’s at this point that the story pivots but such a large percentage that it. Becomes much less about Leach and more about the morally repugnant trio.
Arguably, Rise Of The Footsoldier was the film that reinvigorated the Brit Crime Drama movie scene, but it isn’t necessarily the best. The ‘Extreme Edition’ certainly doesn’t add more to the story, but it plays to its crowd with lots more scenes of violence, sex and swearing. If you are into these types of films, then this is going to be even better than when you first saw it. For those who are watching it again, just to see what’s added, it won’t make much of a difference.
The cast however are tremendous. Fairbrass at his usual electric self, throwing himself into the role whole hog, portraying Tate at his most unhinged. Stone is also great when he’s not going crazy on drugs. His best scenes are in the build up to the infamous murders when he’s trying to be the sensible head in all of the chaos. Manookian is the sneaky, slimy and downright irritating third wheel, who out of all of them you enjoy see him getting his comeuppance the most, which is kudos to Manookian’s portrayal of the character. But it’s Ricci Harnett who is outstanding here as Leach. Out of all these awful characters (Not even anti-heroes, just plain awful), he shines the brightest and keeps the film together, just about. A final shoutout to Coralie Rose, who as Leach’s embattled wife, is not only stunning but the real unsung heroine of the movie.
Overall, if you are into your BritCrime thrillers and you’re a fan of the franchise, then you are probably going to want to search this out. If you’re not then, maybe you should give it a wide berth unless the idea of heads been crunched against concrete walls, roads and other similar surfaces. Baseball bats, knives and guns being used in many different ways to maim various unsuspecting characters or plenty of sex and drugs leading to bad things happening are you thing and fair warning Rise of the Footsoldiers Extreme Edition doesn’t hold back, pique your interest. It’s a classic of its sub genre and time, but The Long Good Friday this isn’t. Rise of the Footsoldier is far less subtle than that.
Signature Entertainment presents Rise of the Footsoldier on Digital Platforms 3rd February
Available on iTunes to buy here https://apple.co/3XMbdpJ