3 1/2 StarsRising Football (or Soccer depending on your geographical location) star Andy Hollington is being scouted by a major club, which is great news considering he has a pregnant wife and an expensive home to provide for. In a night of drunken celebration, Andy and his pals visit a gentleman’s club. Shortly thereafter a fight breaks out resulting in Andy’s leg being shattered with a fire extinguisher. Facing permanent injury from the vicious attack Hollington is cut from the squad and left in financial ruins. With time running out before his child is born and no real prospects for work, he goes into the ice cream vending business. He hustles up enough cash to purchase a second-rate van, the necessary cooking equipment for short order food items, and inventory. All is good until Andy runs afoul of a group of Polish hoods, who harass the new guy for being on their turf.
Things keep escalating until Andy’s ice-cream truck is torched by a Molotov cocktail in a bitter dispute. Desperately in need of income and honestly frightened Andy takes a loan from local gangster Nick Brooks, who promises protection from the Polish assailants. Not before long Nick has strong-armed the ice-cream man into selling drugs from his truck and taking part in dangerous hooliganism. Things get out of hand when a veteran police officer puts the heat on Andy and pressures him into turning informant. In the process of peddling ice-cream Andy has inadvertently set off a war between Nicky and the Polish gang.
Tone is a tricky element to establish and even more difficult to maintain throughout a feature length narrative. The Hooligan Wars hooks you with some sharply shot sequences early on then goes limp with an overly simplistic second act that offers high quality acting and few surprises. It does offer a variation on an old movie genre, but it’s a slight departure, and on a very tired genre. Clearly director Paul Tanter is a talented filmmaker with a great eye for locations, sound judgment in casting all the key roles and building moments of tension. The Hooligan Wars is an efficiently made crime thriller, cheerfully violent and full of interesting scenes. I think working with a larger budget Tanter and Co. are likely to produce a classic, The Hooligan Wars is reminiscent of watching Mean Streets knowing that Scorsese had a Taxi Driver on the horizon.
Director: Paul Tanter
Stars: Nick Nevern, Peter Barrett, Glen Murphy