Director: Zackery Adler
Script: Michael Loveday
Cast: Craig Fairbrass, Terry Stone, Ian Virgo, Roland Manookian, Jamie Foreman, Larry Lamb
Running time: 99 minutes
The Blu-ray sleeve states that the film contains ‘very strong language, violence, drug misuse, injury detail and sex’. If any of those elements offend you, in any way, then I’d suggest avoiding this film like the plague, since it features a fair amount of all of them in one form or another, particularly the swearing – fuck, yeah! I have to admit that filmmakers have to reflect the worlds they are portraying, however, there does seem to be a general, somewhat annoying trend amongst British filmmakers engaged in creating UK-based gangster films, that all the gangsters have to swear profusely, all of the time, which seems to be a bit unnecessary and probably isn’t 100% accurate anyway – at least it isn’t with the less salubrious types that I’ve met over the years, and I’ve met a few…
Rise of the Footsoldier: The Pat Tate Story is a kind of prequel to events that occurred in the earlier films in this popular series; the story following the earlier career of Pate Tate, a brutal thug from Essex, who, to put it mildly, had some major anger management issues! Based on Tate’s real-life antics, the film takes certain liberties with the facts for entertainment’s sake, but essentially the general outline of events is true, apparently.
It’s 1988 and Pate Tate (a fearsome Fairbrass) finds himself visiting ex-pat gangster and mentor, Harris (Larry Lamb), who is lying low in Marbella, avoiding the authorities who are interesting in his illegal drug empire. It’s obvious that Pat is ambitious and wants to move up in the underworld pecking order and sees his mate Terry as a facilitator for this. With his younger pal, Ken, he takes on some cocaine to courier back to the UK, but they’re attacked by part of the gang who sold it to them so Pat returns to the UK to focus on his nightclubs and on his relationship with his regular Mrs, who seems to put up with his womanising and loutish behaviour – well, a lot of women have an appalling taste in men!
Pat is later double-crossed and ends up in prison where, instead of keeping his head down and his nose clean, he soon establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with, and builds up a posse to help him, both inside and out. Years later, he’s faced with the realisation that his woman has cheated on him – she’s had a baby, and that his mentor-figure in Marbella might have closer ties to him than he’s comfortable with, and that’s putting it mildly!
The Pat Tate Story might be a lot of things, but it’s never dull, with Tate careering from one disaster or punch-up to another, and when he’s not busting some guy’s jaw he’s busy snorting coke, screwing loose women, and swearing loudly in people’s faces. In fact this tale of an Essex boy gone wrong is so over-the-top it’s actually very funny, in a bleak humoured kinda way. I also found the constant tirade of swearing became steadily less offensive and increasingly more and more comical as the film ran on, and a friend, who watched it with me, had the same response, so it’s not just me!
This is most definitely a lad’s kind of film, best served up with some crusty pizza and some lager on a Friday night after a hard week at work. Leave your brain in neutral and just enjoy one set of unpleasant men knocking the living shit out of another bunch of equally unpleasant blokes. And I’m not being sexist by saying that – I just don’t think many women would get much enjoyment from Pat Tate and his angry antics…
On a technical level, the film appears to have had a decent budget and is nicely shot for this kind of thing; its production levels raised by some interesting locations, including an appealing-looking Marbella. I’m sure Fairbrass must have it in his contract nowadays that he’ll only shoot movies if they’re shot in Marbella, judging by this and the earlier London Heist, which, personally, I preferred to this. Unfortunately, like so many British films these days, the sound level is all over the place – the dialogue scenes are too soft and the action scenes are way too loud.
Although this is mostly Craig Fairbrass’s movie - he’s really good in it - a shout out goes to some of the other cast members who step up to the plate and deliver excellent performances, especially Josh Myers who manages to make Tate’s henchman, Ken, a three-dimensional character, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Laura McMonagle is also very good as Pat’s abused girlfriend, Kate. Even Shaun Ryder, playing ‘Mad Dog’ in prison, does an okay job in his all too brief role. Oh, and Jamie Foreman does menacing very well and has a fantastic 1,000 yard stare!
I have to admit that I enjoyed the film’s cheesy, OTT dialogue and diabolical delights, but then I do have less good taste than most people! So, if you like films that glorify the gangster lifestyle, or, like me, you just enjoy mucho cheese with your gangster gags then this film is most certainly worth a visit.
Signature is distributing Rise of the Footsoldier: The Pat Tate Story on DVD and Blu-ray. Extras on the disc include:
A Q & A with Craig Fairbrass, Josh Meyers and Terry Stone (16.5 mins) – During an informal press interview the lads talk about the film, and Craig talks about some of the other films he’s been in too, citing The Devil’s Playground and London Heist as his other favourites amongst his oeuvre. We hear that musician Shaun Ryder, who has a small part in the film, was very nice, but was quite apprehensive about the physical stuff he had to do. Oh, and we also learn that Craig isn’t into sausages – they gives him heartburn!
Trailers for The Hatton Garden Job and Renegades and Rise of the Footsoldier: The Pat Tate Story.