Until I received this Blu-Ray in the mail I had never heard of Rise of the Footsoldier, but one of the great things about being a reviewer is that you occasionally get a little gem to have a look at. Sure you get a lot of crap too, but this movie falls on the positive side of the ledger.
Rise of the Footsoldier charts the rapid rise of Carlton Leach, from feared football hooligan to him becoming a member of one of the country's most notorious crime syndicates. Following his life over the course of three decades, the film follows Leach's career from soccer thug, through a stint as a doorman and his involvement in the early rave scene, right through to an integral part of a gang that ruled London and Essex during the late 80s and early 90s and would culminate in the infamous shotgun deaths of three of the firm's members in Rettendon.
It must be pointed out that this is a violent movie, but as mentioned in the documentary the violence has been toned down for the movie compared to real life. Will people object to this? Hell yes. Having cops bust into a room to see a naked guy nail gunned to the floor probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, nor is half of someone’s face blown off by a shotgun - but that's what happened so deal with it. If the violence doesn't upset you perhaps the swearing will with more uses of the "F" and "C" words then any other movie I've seen in recent times. Still, they were violent underworld people so it fits in with the tone and the movie isn't rated R18+ for the fun of it.
If you're an Australian and enjoyed Underbelly which showed the rise of one of our biggest criminals in Carl Williams, then you may want to check out Rise of the Footsoldier which shows a similar path through the UK criminal underground for Carlton Leach. Sure the movie is brutal and contains plenty of swearing, but this is a fantastic release.
Rise of the Footsoldier is presented on Blu-Ray at 1080p in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and the video quality is for the most part quite impressive. The film has been shot with a documentary style with plenty of shaky cam and intentional degradation, but it works quite well and suits the style of the movie perfectly. To assist the transfer in remaining sharp the bitrate often peaks well above 30Mbps in some of the busier scenes. Detail levels are impressive, and shadow detail is good, although occasionally looks a little flat.
Audio Commentary with Director Julian Gilbey and Writer William Gilbey: Quite an interesting commentary this adds more detail to the story as well as the filming.
Filming the Footsolider (1:17:31): WOW! Now this is a wonderful documentary which covers almost all aspects of the film. This includes how the filmmakers captured the real-life events, the casting, the filming and creating a movie over several decades. If there's one slight disappointment it's that this is only presented in Standard Definition with Stereo sound, but I would rather this then not having it due to space issues.
Deleted Scenes (30:00 approx): There are 26 deleted or extended scenes here some of which are pretty impressive, others which aren't really missed at all. To be honest I haven't watched them all (hence no overall time, but you're probably looking at around 30+ minutes of footage here. Only presented in Standard definition with some incomplete audio.
Auditions (20:52): Audition footage for Coralie Rose as Denny, Mitchell Lewis as Kemal Baran, Callback with Ricci Harnett as Carlton Leach, Dhafer L'Aberdine asEmre Baran, and Stuart Moore as Bill Gardner.
Photo Gallery: An impressive 182 images are presented here.
Trailers (11:49): Trailers for Rise of the Footsoldier, The Air I Breathe, Finding Amanda, Boarding Gate, The Lost, and Boston Strangler.
Review By: Dave Warner