REVIEW: THE HOOLIGAN FACTORY

Starring

Jason Maza (Brotherhood)
Nick Nevern (Out of COntrol)
Tom Burke (Cleanskin)
Ray Fearon (Fleabag)
Steven O’Donnell (Conan the Barbarian)
Josef Altin (Game of Thrones)
Leo Gregory (Tristan & Isolde)
Keith-Lee Castle (Seed of Chucky)
Lorraine Stanley (Eden Lake)
Ian Lavender (Dad’s Army)
Danny Dyer (Vendetta)
Craig Fairbrass (The Bank Job)
Tamer Hassan (Kick-Ass)

The Hooligan Factory (2014)Danny (Jason Maza) wants something more from life having been expelled from school and living in his grandfather’s flat, he longs to live up to the image of his estranged father Danny Senior (Ronnie Fox). Sent to prison for force feeding a judge his own wig Danny Senior was a legend and Danny is looking for a way to emulate his father’s achievements and rise to be “top boy”. Meanwhile legendary football hooligan Dex (Nick Nevern) is about to be released. Dex is on a quest of his own, one of vengeance against his nemesis and rival firm leader The Baron (Keith-Lee Castle). But when Danny and Dex’s paths cross they embark on a journey as old as hooliganism itself. Dex, Danny and The Hooligan Factory travel the length of the country on a mission to re-establish their firm’s glory days. However, the police are closing in and we get a sense that the Hooligan Factory’s best days may be behind them, but with Danny on their side, and Dex finding his old form who knows where this may lead. After all… It’s a funny old gameThe Hooligan Factory (2014)Even after they really ceased to hold their cult appeal, these British gangster/firm films still get put out a lot in the direct to DVD market, with a load of no name or little known actors in the lead role. So frequently do they appear, it seemed a fitting idea to make a film lampooning them all, and Nick Nevern’s film is certainly thorough, sending up everything from Green Street, to more big time stuff like Goodfellas, only rarely to very funny result. It plays too much like a standard hooligan film, from the dialogue to the set up, and at times feels even more depressing than the usual such stuff.

REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 6

Starring

Adrian Paul (Arrow)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Elizabeth Gracen (Marked For Death)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter Hudson (Hitman)
Rachel Shelley (Rogue)
Danny Dyer (Vendetta)
Valentine Pelka (The Pianist)
Dudley Sutton (Cockneys vs Zombies)
Ian Richardson (From Hell)
Jay Simon (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Alexis Denisof (Legacies)
Jasper Britton (Mike & Angelo)
Anita Dobson (Eastenders)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Alice Evans (The Vampire Diaries)
Andrew Bicknell (Victoria)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Sandra Hess (NCIS)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Jack Ellis (Bad Girls)
Paris Jefferson (Xena)
Alexandra Vandernoot (Pret-a-Porter)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)

81B402sFfNL._AC_SL1500_After the murder of his friend and fellow immortal Richie Ryan, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) retreats to a Southeast Asian monastery for a year and mentally prepares for his battle against the demon Ahriman. Ahriman taunts MacLeod by appearing in the guises of the Highlander’s late enemies: the rogue watcher James Horton (Peter Hudson) and the leader of the four horsemen, Kronos (Valentine Pelka). The friendships between Duncan, ancient immortal Methos (Peter Wingfield), and watcher Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) also become strained as MacLeod retreats to his Parisian barge, aides several female immortals from his past, and tries to find himself again.81XSWgDX0dL._AC_SL1500_Yeah, that is kind of a sucky summary of Highlander: The Series’ 13 episode final season. Unfortunately, this season itself is kind of sucky and should most definitely not be used as judgment for the series as a whole. Year 6 begins a little hokey with the two-part Ahriman opener “Avatar” and “Armageddon,” then concludes with an It’s A Wonderful Life cop out in “To Be” and “Not to Be.” Yes, it’s too abstract, David Lynch-esque, and mystical, but the Ahriman storyline- carried over from the finale of Season 5- both takes too long to get over with and yet seems to be too easily wrapped up and tidy. While a fan of the series can see the importance of MacLeod going this route, questioning the meaning of his immortal life, and despairing over the death his longevity causes; this critical turn is only explored in half the episodes this season. Highlander: The Series just gets too weird here, departing from all that made it so great in favor of bad immortal crime and female revenge crap. This tiresome stretch of chicks all seem the same and drive this season into the ground.highlander62We’ve never seen any of these women before- at the very least why should we care about them when the immortals we know and love have so much more to tell? If anything, Season 6 has me feeling a little bit of resentment for these guesting women who do nothing but waste the precious time being taken away from our real players. Though a lovely piece in of itself, only MacLeod ends up with some small resolution in the series finale- which seems more like a mid-season two-parter by magically presenting the alternate possibilities of the rest of our company. Yes, the show is supposed to be about The Highlander. However, over the previous 5 seasons, we saw just how much MacLeod both rose and fell based on the mortal and immortal support about him. To simply have the others smile as the sun sets is a little unfair for all the characters- and certainly unkind to the audience. But again, it is still a lovely final episode, complete with a tear-jerking Highlander: The Series goodbye montage. Sniff.highlander57Fortunately, there are a few goods to be had this season. “Diplomatic Immunity” and “Black Tower” are worthy MacLeod centric episodes. “Unusual Suspects” with Roger Daltry returning as Hugh Fitzcairn is also great in another fun, all in the past delight that again proves more could have been done historically instead of resorting to these immortal women follies. And let’s talk about all these guesting female immortals. Isn’t it amazing that in 13 episodes, it seems like we’ve had more lady immortals than in all the previous seasons combined? Hmm, why is that? Some of these gals are, unfortunately, seriously bad. Dara Tomanovich (Bio-Dome) as Alex Raven in “Sins of the Father” is kind of cool, perhaps the first female immortal who can actually fight and likes it. Her plot and motorcycle style, are however, a bit Renegade; and again, I wonder why Highlander: The Series would choose to retread this route.

patient0Even more tragic is Alice Evans  in “Patient Number 7.” While it’s not a bad premise, the episode is just very badly done, and Evans most definitely cannot carry one show, let alone an entire spin off. Likewise, “Justice” and “Deadly Exposure” just stink. Claudia Christian (Babylon 5) is lovely, but her backdoor pilot “Two of Hearts” is just…no. Not only does it have none of the regular players, but also the subsequent episode “Indiscretions” exclusively features Dawson and Methos and thus proves just how unnecessary all this Star Search for the next female immortal really was. You want another gal in the cast? It might have been nice to see more of Joe’s daughter Amy (Louise Taylor, Eyes Wide Shut) as a player in Highlander: The Watcher Adventures. Anything would have been better than how Season 6 actually turned out, I’m just saying.hqdefaultOf course, the MacLeod specific episodes are still the best, but remember, Duncan is, well, barely there in Year 6. Of course, we’re sorry to see him go, but in many ways, one can understand star Adrian Paul’s readiness to depart towards bigger and better things. He even cuts his hair, people! Seriously, what else was left for Mac? Why did they need to reduce the character to a shadow of his former self this season anyway? Did they really have so little faith in the rest of the cast without him? Why couldn’t Duncan have stayed monking it out in his temple while Joe, Methos, Amanda, and a new watcher or young immortal or two had adventures searching the globe for the elusive Highlander? Although it’s kind of silly, I want to say Season 6 is a little underhanded in the way MacLeod is treated. After 5 years, he can go through whatever serious stuff he wants this season- so long as he gets over it in 3 episodes? It’s almost cruel to end Highlander: The Series this way. As I wrote in my Season 5 essay, I would watch “The Modern Prometheus,” skip the Year 5 finale “Archangel,” and the Ahriman plot, then pick up “Unusual Suspects” and “Indiscretions” here before the series conclusion. Everything else is kind of a slap in the face for longtime viewers.394b784f81cd5b9bfb40e0a3164f0b06Fortunately, we spend this shortened season exclusively in Paris, and the European locations and period flashbacks are great as always. We see a lot of pre-MacLeod times and places in a good portion of the flashbacks- thanks to our rotating door of 1,000 year old immortal gals (Didn’t we already have a 1200 year old immortal gal? coughamandacough) Still, it’s nice to see that the historical style holds up without the eponymous man himself. Unfortunately, the action suffers this season thanks to all those guest ladies who can’t hold a sword to save their lives. They all also seem to wear the exact same pair of black jeans with a zippered up black leather motorcycle bomber, too. And again, chick Quickenings are a Hell No. Even Duncan’s sweet Barge suffers- losing all its wonderful art and décor so Mac can have a more Zen like environment. While season 6 may leave a bitter taste even in the Highlander completist’s mouth, it’s more important to look at the gem of the series overall.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SEVERANCE

CAST
Danny Dyer (Straightheads)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me)
Tim McInnerny (Notting Hill)
Toby Stephens (The Machine)
Claudie Blakeley (Gosford Park)
Andy Nyman (Black Death)
The film opens with George (David Gilliam) and two women (Juli Drajkó and Judit Viktor) running through the woods. The women fall into a large pit trap while George is caught by a snare. As he hangs helplessly, a masked man approaches and disembowels him with a knife.
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What is later revealed as some days prior to this, the European Sales division of Palisade Defence military arms corporation are on a bus to a team-building weekend at a “luxury lodge” in the Mátra Mountains of Hungary. When a fallen tree blocking the road halts the bus’s progress, the driver (Sándor Boros) refuses to take a dirt road through the woods and, after an argument, drives off leaving the group to walk the remaining distance to the lodge. Eventually the group reaches the lodge, which is old and in serious disrepair, but the manager Richard (Tim McInnerny) convinces the wary but tired group to enter. Inside, Harris (Toby Stephens) discovers a file cabinet full of cryptic Palisade documents, written in Russian. The group discusses the documents, leading Harris to relate a story he’d heard about the lodge: the lodge was previously a mental institution, and in the early 20th century a Palisade-made nerve gas was used to clear it out after the inmates took over. Jill (Claudie Blakley) responds with the story she’d heard: the lodge was a “reeducation center” for Russian war criminals, and after an escape a Palisade-made nerve gas was used to clear escapees out of nearby buildings. Both mention a lone survivor who swore revenge on Palisade. Steve (Danny Dyer) starts to tell his own story about the lodge’s past as a clinic staffed by busty nurses when he finds a human tooth in the meat pie the group is eating for dinner. Chastising Gordon (Andy Nyman) for serving a pie he just found in the kitchen, everyone goes to bed.
 That night Jill sees someone looking into the lodge from the trees. Though nobody is found outside, everyone but Richard agrees that they should leave the lodge. The next morning Richard grudgingly sends Harris and Jill to the top of the hill to call the bus driver back, on the condition that the rest participate in a team-building game of paintball. Reaching the hill, Harris and Jill find the bus abandoned and the bus driver dead in a nearby creek. Back at the lodge, the game of paintball has just finished when Gordon steps into a bear trap. After several failed attempts by Steve and Billy (Babou Ceesayu) to pry the trap open, Gordon’s left leg is cut through completely under the knee. Harris and Jill arrive in the bus, load everyone in and head back for town. On the way, a spike strip is thrown in front of the bus, which causes it to crash. Harris is thrown clear of the bus in the crash, and is decapitated by a masked killer with a machete. Jill is captured and tied to a tree, then gagged, doused with gasoline and burned alive. The rest discover Harris’s body, prompting them to head for the lodge to hide for the night.
 While Steve and Maggie (Laura Harris) smoke, a masked figure (Levente Törköly) “quietly” grabs Gordon and carries him into the basement. Discovering Gordon’s absence and a newly opened door, the four head into the basement which leads to an underground prison. Through one door Billy and Maggie find the now-dead Gordon who has had the Palisade logo carved into his torso and a now-unmasked killer who fires a shotgun at them. The two hide in a nearby cell, where Billy dies from a chest wound. Steve hides on the second floor while Richard escapes out the back into the woods. While the killer searches for Steve, Maggie sneaks up on him with a large knife she took from the prison in the basement, but she falls through the rickety floor. The killer turns round and takes aim at Maggie, but, at the last second, Steve saves her by impaling the killer through the back. The killer falls down and becomes lodged in the main level floor, and Maggie takes his shotgun and shoots the killer in the head.
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 Maggie and Steve exit the lodge believing they are safe, but discover that a group of several more armed, Russian-speaking killers are awaiting them outside. Maggie shoots one before he can fire on them, and the two run into the woods. They come across Richard, who has stepped on a Palisade-made land mine and cannot move without detonating it. Richard guides Maggie and Steve through the minefield. The killers know that the area is a minefield and do not enter; they use a fallen branch to pass over the minefield close to Richard and torment him with insults and stones as they pass overhead. Accepting his situation Richard does his best to save the others and steps off the mine, blowing up himself along with two of the killers. Steve and Maggie come to another lodge, the real Palisade lodge. Inside they find their boss George, who is partying with two escorts Steve ordered via the Internet earlier. George brings out a prototype missile launcher and fires it at the approaching killers, but the missile locks on to a passing commercial jet instead, destroying it. The five run into the woods, leading to the events shown in the beginning of the film. Maggie is snared, then about to be molested by a killer, but manages to smash his head with a rock. Steve encounters two attackers and gets beaten and stabbed, but eventually kills them both with a knife and a submachine gun. Maggie is chased by a flamethrower-wielding killer into an abandoned prison camp, filled with crates bearing the Palisade logo. There, Maggie breaks her leg, but is saved when one of the escorts, rescued by Steve, arrives and shoots the man. Steve, Maggie and the escorts make it to a rowboat on the shore of the nearby lake, and as they paddle off to safety Steve jokingly quips, “Foursome?”.
Good performances all round, a good script and overall good pacing make this film never boring. It may be a tad predictable in the ‘whos gonna die next’ kinda way and the romantic subplot, but the fun is in seeing how it unravels.

REVIEW: ASSASSIN

 

CAST

Danny Dyer (Severance)
Deborah Moore (Chaplin)
Martin Kemp (Embrace of The Vampire)
Gary Kemp (Dog Eat Dog)
Robert Cavanah (Sahara)
Holly Weston (The Collection)

Assassin-2015-LB1-1Hitman Jamie (Danny Dyer) has been hired to kill a man, a not unfamiliar prospect for him. However things grow complicated when he ends up falling for the daughter of his hit, especially after the deed is done and she begins to question who killed her father and why. This puts her in the path of John and Lee Alberts, the two gangsters that hired Jamie, requiring him to protect his new love while also trying to avoid the two brothers.Assassin-600x399Assassin is a pretty lazy straight-to-video thriller for action man Danny Dyer, here mumbling his way through a clichéd plot in a pick-up-the-pay cheque type role. The story sees Dyer’s assassin (a case of miscasting if ever there was one) working his way through various targets until he finds himself set up by his own bosses. Everything about this film screams cheap, not least the script which is incredibly predictable from beginning to end. However, my interest was piqued by the presence of the Kemp brothers, Gary and Martin, playing two characters who could easily be the Kray twins twenty years later. The Kemps are great fun and I enjoyed their scenes, even if the rest of the movie is a drag despite the short running time.

REVIEW: AGE OF HEROES

CAST

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Aksel hennie (The Martian)
Izabella Miko (Clash of The Titans)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
William Houston (Dracula Untold)

The film follows the exploits of Corporal Bob Rains (Danny Dyer) as he is inducted into the newly formed 30 Commando unit in the Second World War, after being freed from a war prison for cowardice and striking an officer during operations in France. Rains and the rest of the platoon are put through intensive training under the watchful eye of Major Jack Jones (Sean Bean), where their skills and endurance are pushed to the limit as they prepare for their first highly classified and dangerous mission: to parachute into occupied Norway and capture new radar technology from the Germans which could change the outcome of the war.The newly formed band of brothers are joined in their task by Norwegian immigrant Steinar Mortensen (Aksel Hennie), now a US Marine Lieutenant with vital knowledge of the terrain, and beautiful spy Jensen (Izabella Miko). All their lethal commando skills are put to the test as they attempt to escape fierce gun battles and attain the German radar technology. The mission objective bears much resemblance to Operation Biting. Their plan is thrown into crisis when their extraction is delayed and they must fight their way to the border of Sweden. With the Nazis desperate to hunt them down and stop them, the commandos realise how important their mission is to the war effort.After a long trek in the snow, the commandos try to resupply by returning to a previously visited farm. Its inhabitants had been shot by German units after they refused to collaborate with them. To make things worse, the Germans catch up with them at the farm, bringing the one commando captured alive during the earlier fire fight. The Germans urge the commandos’ surrender in exchange for the life of their captured comrade. The commandos refuse, and instead open fire on the Germans. Jensen and radar specialist Roger Rollright are ordered to make a run for the Swedish border, while the rest of the commandos provide cover for them.Major Jones realizes that there are too many German soldiers pouring into the fire fight. He orders Rains and Steinar to run for the border, while two others stay to cover them. Those who remain at the farm are last seen firing on and suppressing the Germans. The Germans catch up to Rains and Steinar retreating; Steinar is shot and killed. Out of ammunition, and with several enemy soldiers advancing on him, Rains prepares to cut his own throat. But before doing so, Jensen and Rollright kill the two Germans, thus enabling them to escape overland to Sweden. The last scene shows the two surviving team members and Jensen standing on a hill looking down into a snow-covered valley that leads to Sweden.Unfortunately as it nears towards the end, the story seems to have been “chopped off” with a somewhat quick ending to a nicely built up story. I believe this could have been better done with a proper ending to the story.

REVIEW: STRAIGHTHEADS (AKA CLOSURE)

CAST

Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Anthony Calf (Dead Cool)
Francesca Fowler (The Golden Hour)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Steven Robertson (Kingdom of Heaven)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle)

Adam, a 23-year-old self-employed security technician, is hired by a businesswoman, Alice Comfort, to set up a security system in her flat. After finishing the work, Adam falls asleep on a lawnchair on her roof-garden. When Alice arrives home and finds him there, she impulsively asks him to accompany her to a housewarming party for her boss. He is unsure, but eventually agrees. After a drive, Alice and Adam arrive at the party. Alice leaves Adam to speak to some people at the party. Adam leaves the house, feeling out of place. Alice later finds Adam outside in the grounds, then leads him into some woods and they have sex.On the way home from the party, Alice and Adam are caught behind a slow-moving vehicle, which Alice frustratedly overtakes whilst Adam shouts out an obscenity at the driver. Shortly thereafter, Alice is distracted from driving and accidentally hits a stag. She brings the car to a stop, and they drag the stag off the road. While they are moving it, the car that Alice had earlier overtaken pulls up behind Alice’s car. Three men get out, badly beat Adam and then rape Alice. A month passes, during which Adam and Alice physically heal – the only reminder of the attack being an eyepatch that Adam must wear to protect an eye wound he received during the beating – but both remain emotionally wounded. Upon returning to work, Alice receives notification that, while she was hospitalized following her rape, her father died. Alice drives out to his country estate to put his affairs in order, where she discovers a locked chest that she recognizes from her childhood. On the way home, she passes by a group of riders on horseback, one of whom she recognizes as having raped her. She gets his name – Heffer – from one of the other riders.hqdefaultAlice then contacts Adam, and he makes his way to Alice’s father’s house where she tells him that she’s found one of the men responsible for attacking them. Alice shows Adam the contents of her father’s locked chest: a sniper rifle and silencer that her father apparently smuggled home after being discharged from the army. Alice then tells Adam that she intends to avenge herself against Heffer. Adam and Alice move into Alice’s father’s home, and spend their days practising shooting with the rifle. After they have become proficient with it, they take a trip out to the edge of Heffer’s land and begin plotting the best way to kill him. During their reconnaissance, they learn that Heffer has a dog on his property, which barks whenever they approach the house. Alice shoots the dog, then makes Adam collect its body so that they can dispose of it. A moment later, Heffer comes outside looking for the dog; Alice is preparing to shoot him when a young woman (later identified as Heffer’s daughter, Sophie) comes out of the house to help find the dog. Alice and Adam, disturbed by seeing their attacker as a human being, return home.28085-StraightheadsOver the next several days Alice and Adam try to determine if they should follow through with their plan. Adam, who has been impotent since the attack, steadily becomes more aggressive and committed to the idea of murdering Heffer. Alice, however, has grown reluctant to kill Heffer now that she has seen him in a human context; instead, she sends Adam to clandestinely set up security equipment in Heffer’s house in an attempt to determine the identities and locations of his friends who participated in the gang-rape. Adam succeeds in breaking into Heffer’s house, where he learns that Heffer is the submissive party in his relationship with the other attackers. In need of money, they have decided to blackmail Heffer with their knowledge of the rape, forcing him to give them money in exchange for not anonymously tipping off the police as to his identity.MCDSTRA EC042Adam, seeking a means of escape, ends up in Sophie’s room; initially, he merely attempts to keep her quiet so that he can get out of the house, but he has a sudden fit of rage and begins raping her. In the middle of the attack, she escapes from his grasp, and Adam returns home, able to maintain an erection for the first time since the attack. He and Alice begin to have sex, but when he starts to become too rough with her she throws him off. Adam leaves the house and heads out into the woods.The next day, Alice uses a laptop computer that controls the security cameras and watches Heffer in his house. She quickly realises his intention is to kill himself and after grabbing the rifle she drives over, and stops her car just in front of a garage upon hearing a car horn sounding. Alice gets inside the garage and finds Heffer, sitting in his running car, attempting to kill himself with carbon monoxide poisoning. Alice gets Heffer out of the car and into fresh air, saving his life; once he regains consciousness, she helps him back into his house. In the midst of a delirium from the carbon monoxide, Heffer—who doesn’t recognize Alice—confesses that, a month ago, his friends voiced their intentions to rape his daughter, but that he convinced them to rape and beat a woman and her friend in the middle of the road instead.28085-StraightheadsJust then, Alice and Heffer hear Adam calling from outside, and Heffer suddenly turns violent, grabbing her roughly but Alice hits him and frees herself. Adam then bursts into the house, beats Heffer, duct-tapes him to the kitchen table, and holds him down while Alice sodomizes him with the barrel of the rifle that she has fetched from her car; once she is finished, she prepares to kill him, but now feeling pity for him because of the circumstances surrounding the rape, she decides not to pull the trigger. Adam, infuriated, takes out a hunting knife and carves out Heffer’s eye. Horrified, Alice runs away; driving back to her father’s home, Alice spots Sophie hitch-hiking, and invites her into her car. When Sophie realizes she isn’t being taken home, she asks Alice where they’re headed; Alice replies, “Somewhere safe.” Back at Heffer’s house, Adam taunts Heffer until he hears a car pulling up; as one of the attackers approaches the house, Adam fatally shoots him in the head before pursuing the remaining attacker through the grounds of Heffer’s house. Adam shoots him in the leg as he flees, causing him to fall to the ground. Adam then approaches the wounded man and bludgeons him to death with the butt of the rifle. In the final shot of the film, Adam walks away from his final victim and approaches the screen for a close up shot. He effectively breaks the fourth wall by glancing at the audience – leaving the viewer to reflect on the violent act of revenge Adam has committed.hqdefaultAnderson and Dyer give brilliant, understated performances, who undergo a real journey in the course of the film. They are ably supported by the rest of the cast. A pertinent film, that deserves viewing.