Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Released in 1989, THE FIRM would prove to be Alan Clarke's most personal film, and would also turn out to be his last. This is a hard-hitting portrayal of a group of football hooligans who contemplate joining forces with rival gangs for the upcoming European Championships. With a fine central performance from Gary Oldman, THE FIRM certainly raised a few hackles from the authorities who were considering the introduction of id cards for those attending games, as well as providing an authentic account of the so-called 'Hoolie Wars' that took place all over the country.
Now, we have a remake on our hands - directed by Nick Love - which was recently released on DVD & Blu-ray. Here, the role of gang leader Bex is played by Paul Anderson, who acquits himself well in Oldman's role. Once again, the possibility of rival firms teaming up takes centre-stage, though there's also a very strong message concerning the dangers of hero worship that should ring warning bells for those engaged in similar pursuits.
Dom (Calum McNab) first encounters Bex in a nightclub and after being firmly put in his place, makes strenuous attempts to get noticed and gain acceptance by West Ham's notorious 'Inter City Firm'. Before long, Dom finds himself on the front line of violent confrontations, but a series of pre-arranged meets and violent off-the cuff ambushes leave him on the back foot in an attempt to get out.
Overall, THE FIRM captures the 80s' with a high degree of accuracy, bolstered by Love's own experiences, with the rival gangs' 'face-offs' recalling the sort of things that occurred every weekend in every city. Those who simply write this film off - sight unseen - as just another mindless hooligan flick should be aware that Love has delivered a film that's as much about friendship - lost, regained and ill-advised - as football violence.
The Blu-ray release is as image-sharp as one would expect for a recent release, and some worthwhile extras are included, together with a director's commentary track.