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April 26, 2009
Rise of the Footsoldier Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
22/12/200828/4/2009Eagle EntertainmentJulian Gilbey
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1R18+Ricci Harnett

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Ricci Harnett is impressive as Carlton Leach.

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.

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The movie starts with football thuggery.
Directed by Julian Gilbey this movie runs for just under two hours and while it does seem a little slow at times, this is mainly due to the movie opening at a frantic pace, and rarely slowing down. We did find it a little hard to follow the characters upon first viewing, not least of which due to the fact the movie takes place over three decades, but subsequent viewings made it quite a bit more clear.

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.

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Rise of the Footsoldier is very violent.
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.

Unlike Eagle Entertainment's other discs we aren't limited to a single audio choice on this disc (that being a great DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track) but also have a Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps and 2 Channel Stereo Linear PCM track encoded at 1.5Mbps. Indeed we played this movie with the DTS-HD Master Audio track and it exceeded expectations. The surround sound channels get a good workout, and the music is pretty thumping at times. Dialogue is clear for the most part although the thick English accent made the occasional line harder to understand.

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Don't worry there's ladies in the movie!
Again, and disappointingly, there are no subtitles either so if you're deaf, you will probably want to give this release a miss. It would have also been nice to have a subtitle track just to see what they were saying in a couple of the places where there is a thicker accents.

While Eagle Entertainments earlier releases only contained a few extras they are ramping them up with every release and Rise of the Footsoldier contains some of the best yet.

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.

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Lined up for the interrogation.
Interview with Carlton Leach (21:29): A rather interesting interview with the real Carlton Leach who talks about the movie and real-life experiences and being on-set for some of the filming. Quite interesting and a great addition to the disc.

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.

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Getting nervous about a knock at the door.
Outtakes (18:02): A rather lengthy series of outtakes and goofing around on set. Some of them are pretty funny and it's nice to have more then a few minutes worth.

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.

I'll warn you now, this movie is filled with swearing and violence, if you can't stand either then stay well away. If though, you want to see a great movie about the criminal element in the UK then you should check this out. In much the way that Underbelly was a great look at the Australian criminal world, Rise of the Footsoldier is an impressive attempt at showing us the lives of some of the most charismatic criminals in the UK. Well worth a look, and a purchase for fans of the genre.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Eagle Entertainment. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.