Sunday, 9 February 2014

Blu-ray Review: Green Street 3: Never Back Down

For many people, the dark days of football violence have come to an end. Flashback to the '70s and early '80s and damn near every game was a battlefield between rival fans with 1,000 a side set-to's outside grounds and the taking of ends designated for the home support, with travelling fans infiltrating their rivals' terraces and sparking vicious fighting that often raged for the entirety of the match. Now, we have all-seater stadiums, banks of close circuit TV and police officers who will nick you for as much as sneezing. Most of the old school have long since retired, replaced by a new breed of youth firms who strive to keep things on the boil, despite long banning orders and jail sentences. Gone are the days when the penalty for fighting in the ground was being ejected and simply walking back to the turnstile and paying again to get back in. Now, we have long bans dished out for doing next to nothing and foreign firms turning up for European nights, walking previously mean streets, safe in the knowledge that the UK scene is dead, unlike 20 years ago when they simply wouldn't dare to turn up and play up.
It's been a significant sea change, and James Nunn's 'Green Street 3' takes things a step further. Danny (Scott Adkins) plays ex-leader of West Ham's 'Green Street Elite', finding himself back in London for his brother's funeral. Joey had assumed the mantle of the GSE's 'top boy', but died in a vicious fight. Now Danny is back on home turf, aimign to track down his brother's killer, with the help of his best friend Victor (Joe Ansah) who just happens to be 'Old Bill'. In order to discover the truth, Danny must got back to leading the firm, but finds that things have changed considerably during his time away. Now, there is a code of conduct whereby rival fans avoid matchday fights in and around grounds, and instead channel their aggression to underground fight clubs where each firm puts up their top 5 boys in a last man standing battle, thereby gaining points for each victory in an effort to finish top of the league. At first, Danny's men fare miserably, with a lack of belief and commitment following Joey's passing, not to mention an appalling lack of fitness in the wake of too many beers. So, Danny must train his troops to negotiate a path through fights with rival firms en route to a possible showdown with their hated rivals from Millwall, and their leader Mason (Spencer Wilding).

As you would expect, the fight scenes are brutal in the extreme, but the twist is that fists and boots are joined by martial arts combat, so at times you're thinking you walked into one of those MA actioners with bona fide trained combatants. Actually, for several cast members this is exactly the case, as Adkins, Wilding and Ansah (the latter also serving as fight trainer and choreographer) all have backgrounds in MA which paid dividends for James Nunn who takes a keen interest in the genre. Overall, there's enough to attract both football types and action buffs, and the performances on pretty much on the mark. Sure, the script does contain a good few cliches, but maybe they are hard to avoid with this sort of film.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray offers a nice sharp transfer, with Hard-Of-Hearing subtitles and just one 12 minute featurette, dealing with the making of this film. Nunn, Adkins, Wilding and Ansah are joined by Jack Doolan who plays Gilly, a comitted member of the GSE. The participants chat about how the fight scenes were set up, the level of training required for the film and their backgrounds before GS3 came along.
Green Street 3 does try to be different in certain areas and earns marks for that, but the definitive football violence film has yet to be made.

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