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Green Street Hooligans (R)

Release Date: September 9th, 2005 (NYC-AMC Empire 25 and Regal Union Square 14) by Odd Lot Entertainment.
The Cast: Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani, Marc Warren, Leo Gregory, Henry Goodman
Directed by Lexi Alexander.

BASIC PREMISE: After being expelled from Harvard, Matt (Wood) moves to London to visit his sister (Forlani) and joins the Green Street Elite (a.ka. the GSE), a gang whose only agenda is to fight against the gangs of rival soccer teams.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The first scene is a perfect foreshadow for the rest of the film, as the GSE is shown fighting against another gang. Then, there's a cut to Matt, as he gathers his belongings from Harvard. There is a quick interaction with his roommate, who thanks him for taking the blame for drug possession from him and giving him $ 50,000 as well as an empty promise of a reward in the future. Elijah Wood is perfectly cast---just based on his looks and behavior, he does not fit in well with the GSE. He has a pale complexion unlike the others and, in many initial scenes, he seems naive and shy. Matt's brother Pete (Hunnam) does have the right look as the leader of the GSE with his shaved head and hyperactive, aggressive behavior. His sister Shannon (Forlani) is the only truly smart character who doesn't get involved with the gang--except, accidentally, in the end. The cinematography during the fight sequences effectively brings out all the chaos and craziness with the shaky camera movements and the fast-paced editing. The set design also perfectly adds to the dark tone of the film with many stark colors such as grays and browns. An interesting conflict comes up midway through the plot when Matt's father (Goodman) shows up after learning that Matt was expelled. It turns out the Matt's father is a big-shot, busy journalist who wants his son to follow in his footsteps. After rival gang members learn about his potential involvement as a journalist, his own gang members, including Pete, turn against him. Fortunately, the plot does not waste time with any romances or melodrama. It would have been nice to have some more comedy written into the script, but that would've defeated the purpose of showing the gritty world of "soccer gangs" with brutal honesty--and it certainly succeeds to do just that.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The dysfunctional between Matt and his father is very moving, especially when his father tries to help him get his life back on track by offering him a potential job in journalism. When asked why he never told his father about his wrongful expulsion at first, Matt responds by saying that he didn't feel like talking to an answering machine, which is very well put! Their dysfunctional relationship has a very big impact on his life--and without proper guidance and attention, it is easy to understand how Matt is easily prone to trouble. Unfortunately, there is one narration when Matt thanks his brother Pete for being an inspiration to him. This inspiration is not very clear because from Matt's arrival in London, Pete tempts him into the world of violence. It is really Matt who teaches himself from all of his experiences that a life of violence--no matter how tempting it is--is by far not a good choice.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: It is not clear exactly how Matt was framed for drug possession by his roommate. It would have been better to show more scenes of Matt's normal, daily life at Harvard first before showing his downfall.


THE BOTTOM LINE: A violent, gritty film with perfectly-cast young actors and a few moving, dramatic scenes. It's like a British version of Fight Club without the twist ending!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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