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The Football Factory (18)



Review by: Louisa Biswas | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentay from Nick Love and Danny Dyer; Nick Love's short film 'Love Story'; Making of; Alternate opening scene; Deleted scenes; Theatrical trailer; TV spot; Trailers.

WITH Euro 2004 and the FA Cup Final just around the corner, some people might have reservations about the first release of four films dramatising football violence, but The Football Factory is more of a documentary into what motivates these men to turn to violence, rather than glamorising hooliganism.

The film is a hard-hitting account of a group of Chelsea supporters who arrange a ‘meet’ before each game to vent their frustration and fulfil their desire to be part of the country’s number one firm.

Based on the critically acclaimed book, by John King, the film has been adapted to show different types of supporters and the drive behind their violent actions.

The story is told through the eyes of Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer), a typical 20-something-year-old, who has a steady job and is enjoying life… which includes using violence as a form of drug.

However, after an encounter with the Millwall firm, a series of nightmares force Tommy to question his dodgy lifestyle and whether fighting is really worth it.

The character is also the link to three others, who are from different generations, and have contrasting views over the reasons behind their actions.

From looking for love to trying to be respected, the working-class men use their drink and drug-fuelled adrenaline rush to fight others and gain a form of power.

Nick Love, who adapted and directed the novel, uses his own football knowledge to illustrate why men turn to violence, and this includes creating the character of ‘Zeberdee’, a teenager who is addicted to drugs, but aspires to be respected by the Chelsea firm. However, his misguiding knowledge spirals towards a life of crime, which ultimately leads to his downfall.

The fast-cutting brutal footage, mixed with the slow-paced emotional scenes, makes the controversial film a fascinating account of hooliganism.

However, although the audience become fond of the characters, the different stories about their experiences and lives, help viewers to partially understand the frighteningly real reason behind their actions.

The story is based more on loyalty, male culture and bitterness towards how their country has failed them, rather than encouraging people to copy their actions, or see them as a ‘hero’.

With a former hooligan refusing to return to fighting, and a few characters frowning upon their conduct, the violent behaviour of the football hooligans is never condoned or glamorised.

Instead, a mix of satire, sad and startling scenes helps to make this film more complex than people may have originally imagined, with several moving scenes showing the men as they question the consequences of their actions.

While there is never going to be a perfect release date for the film, The Football Factory reveals that acts of hooliganism are pre-planned, weeks in advance, by the existing hierarchy of firms, and that, unfortunately, this darker side of the game has been a part of the football culture since the 70s.

The powerful film shows that the beautiful game rears a truly ugly side, which is bound to shock and stun audiences, and will undoubtedly bring English hooliganism back to the headlines - but for the wrong reasons.

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