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Three Scouse gangster flicks

By film editor and alien abductee Gert Stonkers

Posted December 13, 2013
Not just gangsters: Liverpool's also got some obelisks and domes. (Check bottom for credit)

Alien abductee Gert Stonkers reviews 'Going Off Big Time', 'The Crew' and 'Shooters', three very different Liverpudlian gangster films he stumbled across on YouTube.

One thing I learnt during my time aboard that spaceship was that films never lie.

Instead, they are all 100% accurate portrayals of reality.

As such, I now know from mooching around the infinite wonders of YouTube that all Scousers are gangsters just like all Cockneys are members of the West Ham Inter City Firm.


It's just the way of the world.

But how do Scousers become gangsters?

Are some, to paraphrase Shakespeare/Bacon, just born with it, do some achieve it or do others have gangsterhood thrust upon them?

Well, if Going Off Big Time (2000) is to be believed, which obviously it is because it's a film, finding yourself at the helm of a Liverpudlian crime syndicate is something than can happen to any Scouser by sheer fluke.

In this particular case, by mistakenly smacking a bizzie round the chops as opposed to the "all-out nasty bastard" you thought was after you for inadvertently getting him fingered by the fuzz when your girlfriend didn't want to go to the cimema with you.

Hey, shit happens in the Pool, raar?

Directed by Jim Doyle and starring him out of Peep Show (Neil Fitzmaurice) and her off Green Wing who "dances like a wolf" (Sarah Alexander), alongside a supporting cast that includes that bloke who just talks to great applause about things you used to do or buy in the 70s (Peter Kay) and the legendary Stan Boardman, this film has a fair old whiff of comedy about it, although it's certainly no throwaway slapstick.

Unless, of course, you find prison rape, stabbings and people getting shot in cold blood a right boss giggle.

In which case, you might want to become a real gangster yourself.

That said, Going Off Big Time is on the whole an easy-to-watch and entertaining mix of likeable and nasty characters with just enough gritty unpleasantness to keep it gangster yet still enough laughs and smiles to keep things light.

While it may not push the boundaries of the gangster genre or indeed go down as one of the most memorable films to date, there's certainly nothing fundamentally wrong with it.

Not only does it walk all over most of the sludge to be found on the screens of the local multiplex or within many an airline's inflight entertainment system, it's also a whole lot better and more enjoyable than the cheesy number two that plopped up on my radar a few minutes later.

Put it this way, I doubt I'll be buying the DVD for Christmas but if it comes on the box while I'm digesting my turkey I shan't be bothering to reach for the remote.

All in all, a good effort.

Cheers for making it and cheers for uploading it.

Yeah, I liked it.

stan boardman
Tooled up: Stan Boardman about to do some damage. (Check bottom for credit)

Directed by Adrian Vitoria, whose other directorial achievements include Hollyoaks: Crossing the Line, The Crew (2008) tries far too hard to shock with its ultraviolent palette of blood, gore and sexual debauchery.

Mind you, given that the screenplay was written by a chap who shares the same name as Moors Murderer Ian Brady, what can you expect?

Not that it's all just rather ill-thought-out attacks on intravenous smack users that cause those clubbing them to death to get splattered head-to-toe in potentially lethal blood before they then try to snog them for no apparent reason.

Neither does every scene involve a shouting match with a one-dimensional Serbian baddie in a highly original tits-and-arse-club setting.

After all, there's also an ongoing row between the head gangster and his conniving half-brother as to whether the firm should ditch their old-fashioned cargo heists and switch to the sale of something called drugs; a lesbian yuppie chalkhead trying to get into the dunghampers of the top dog's wife; a rather annoying little runt who may or may not be the said half-brother's lover; and, of course, a crucifixion for good measure.

Oh, and a load more guns, blood and nose candy.

Think Scarface without the good bits.

But fear not because there's also plenty of light relief jizzing from the insatiable libido of a not-too-bright bloke, who, after being caught punching his head in in front of some grumble by his wife, subsequently learns the dangers of lying beneath a glass-topped coffee table while an egg-bound obese pro tries to crimp off a Mersey trout inches above his face.

With an all-star cast of actors that includes Tommy out of Snatch (Stephen Graham) and, er, Scot Williams, The Crew probably isn't going to make it into the annals as a potential rival to Goodfellas, Sexy Beast, The Long Good Friday and what was that other one called?

Snatch or something.

Not that it's the worst movie ever made.

That crown's still held by the truly lamentable Shergar, which is even more pants than Clubbed to Death.

The thing is, The Crew's all just too hackneyed, although there are a few twists and turns you might not see coming.

If you're reading a book or sleeping perhaps.

stephen graham
He saved The Crew: Him out of Snatch. (Check bottom for credit)

One Scouse gangster film that I do recommend you follow with both eyes fully open is Shooters.

A tad controversial when it came out in 2001, this 70-minute film is an essentially ad-libbed affair played out not by actors but by bone fide former criminals.

Clearly all that lying to the cops paid off well because their performances are pretty good, it has to be said.

Bizarrely, it was originally aired as part of Channel 4's Cutting Edge current affairs series, having made the leap from documentary to drama when director Dan Reid decided to use the interviews he had conducted with ex-cons on the subjects of drugs and guns as the basis for a hard-hitting fictional rather than factual film.

Unsurprisingly, while Channel 4 reckoned that the upshot was a production that told "the story of the people involved in this world through their [own] eyes", so giving the characters a degree of real-life experience beyond the scope of any conventional actor, not everyone was best pleased.

"Do we really want to see criminals on the television re-enacting crimes they may or may not have committed themselves?" the BBC, for instance, quoted Norman Brennan, founder and director of the now defunct Victims of Crime Trust (VoCT), as saying.

"Society is getting sick and tired of criminals benefiting from their past in any way, whether they are paid or not," he continued.

Apparently, the villainous stars didn't receive a flim for the film between them, although Brennan probably did have a point, even if the VoCT was a bit of a mysterious fish itself.

Moral qualms aside and assuming the stories and characterisations contained within Shooters aren't too peppered with fantasy, the result is a full-frontal exposé of the lives and minds of some right dodgy scallies, who, amazingly, don't always seem to be fully motivated by the greater good of society.

In fact, some might say that a few of them have a clear inability to think beyond their own immediate needs and environment, a bit like the proles in 1984 really, except they also happen to be tooled up and totally off their tits on Charlie.

Anyway, here it is now, embedded in full from the YouTube channel of a certain MagicLuluPotion.

Meanwhile, to watch Going Off Big Time and The Crew, make sure you have a click of this and this.

But don't go thinking organised crime is only to be found in a fictionalised Liverpool.

Indeed, just 30 miles (48 km) or so inland from this once great global port lies the fair city of Manchester, home to the very real-life Dominic Noonan and his entourage of teenage foot soldiers, or at least it was when Donal MacIntyre released the following documentary back in 2007.

Entitled A Very British Gangster and embedded on the Rake & Herald from only1aeon's YouTube channel, it makes The Crew look like poo.

Mind you, many things do.

See also Two films that wee on Green Street, posted 12/12/13.

Gert Stonkers
spent nine months aboard an alien spaceship after ill-advisedly mooning his arse at a flying disc "with lights all over it". No longer able to sit comfortably, he now squats on a cushioned potty in front of his computer, endlessly watching films on YouTube in a bid to decipher messages from his interdimensional proctologist friends. "I know they're coming back for me," he says. "Besides, it's well cheaper than going to the cinema and I don't need to bother with clothes."

Picture credit

Top and thumb: The Liver Building and adjacent obelisk in Liverpool, UK by Paul Holloway.

Middle: Stan Boardman by Richardc39.

Bottom: Stephen Graham by JamLuckhurst; rejigged a bit by Ignatius Rake.

For licensing information click the above links.

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