Hooligans kicks ass and if you don’t like it; don’t tell the director cause she can kick your ass too!
Hooligans is an amazing look at the loyal fans of football (that’s Soccer to us Yanks) in England. This is the third film from German born, former martial arts and kickboxing world champion, Lexi Alexander and stars Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam and Claire Forlani. Alexander, who grew up living amongst these football hooligans, creates a world of fans that bring more enthusiasm and loyalty to the arena then any World Series -Super Bowl- National Championship winning team fanatic in the United States could fathom. Although football (soccer) is the underlying theme to this movie, the majority of the action exists off the field. From the first scene where rival football fans engage in a bloody warfare you know that Lexi Alexander has created this movie to be more Fight Club then Bend It Like Beckham.
The film follows recently expelled Harvard journalism senior Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) who takes the fall for his cocaine-abusing son of a congressman roommate when an anonymous call is placed with the school. Matt, who’s mothers is dead and father is a world traveling journalist, chooses to travel to England to visit his expat sister (Claire Forlani) and her English husband Steven (Marc Warren, Band of Brothers). In an effort to give the couple a romantic evening Steven sends Matt to the West Ham football match with younger brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam, Cold Mountain, Undeclared). Pete, we discover is the leader of the West Ham football “firm” who caused the mayhem against the opposing mob of fans in the opening scenes of the film. He explains to Matt that in England football is paramount to any other sport and every team has at least one “firm” that supports the honor of the team. This dead set loyalty is so engrained into the community even certain pubs are deemed as firm pubs and are for members only. These members, who Pete is the unofficial leader of, do not care for outsiders and rank Yanks as scum (Americans) just above police and “journo’s” (journalists), which places Matt in a delicate position of being not only a Yank but worse a journalism college student and worse still a son of a world famous journalist. This makes Matt enemy number one if he or Pete leak his secret to the rest of the firm.
The firm is comprised of an ensemble cast of British and Scottish actors all whom look like the surliest bunch scrappers. The firm reluctantly accept the Yank as one of their own and Buckner finds himself drawn deeper into the sport and those in the firm he would gladly spill blood with on the streets of England. As Buckner becomes closer to the hooligans, Bob (Leo Gregory), the most psychotic member of the firm becomes more jealous and distrustful of the American. That hatred of the Yank will eventually become the catalyst the will bring the firm to its violent conclusion.
Elijah Wood cast against type creates character that is smart but timid at the beginning of the film but soon that finds an inner anger and a strength to fight with a passionate ferocity for his new found friends. This film being one of the first films created since his long stint as Frodo Baggins will redefine Woods as not only a talented actor but also a rising action star. Pete, played by Charlie Hunnam, is a likeable character that has an open mind toward Buckner’s family and a brutal loyalty to the mates in his firm. Hunnam is the perfect actor for this role, athletic, charismatic but explosive during fight scenes. Hunnam continues to prove himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of acting.
Lexi Alexander, in her first feature film debut, creates a movie that is so mesmerizing in its choreographed fight scenes and bloody brawls that you forget that this movie in some aspect exists in real life in parts of the United Kingdom. When speaking to the director, who in life is a beautiful, humble, soft spoken woman, I had to reassure myself that this woman not only has the skills to create such a visceral, true slice of English subculture on film but she has the ability to back every bit of it up. By the time that this film is in theaters, the world will know the name Lexi Alexander.
If you liked Fight Club, Snatch or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels this is the movie for you.