Crunchier than an ICF coshing and about as subtle, this watchable, grittily sentimental dramatisation of legendary hard man Cass Pennant’s journey from Barnado’s baby to famed ’80s West Ham football hooligan doesn’t stint on the craft knives-and-claret action. Or the rampant racism which has marked Cass’ life. Like The Football Factory, it’s most adept when portraying the richly competitive, foul-mouthed culture of hooliganism, as Cass’ crew organise their troops, their sorties, and their media coverage with military farkin’ precision. First-time director Jon S Baird is somewhat less deft with the film’s ambitious and rather clunky inclusion of narration and news footage, but he coaxes raw, heartfelt performances out of Nonso Anozie as the big man, Nathalie Press as his long-suffering wife and Paul Kaye as a shiv-wielding Gooner.
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