Rise of the Footsoldier films rated….

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On 6th December 1995 in Rettendon, Essex farmer Peter Theobald and his friend Ken Jiggins were out walking early one morning when they came across a land rover on a farm track. Inside were three men shot in the head at point blank range Those men were Tony Tucker (38), Patrick Tate (37) and Craig Rolfe (26) all heavily involved in the Essex drug dealing scene and their murders triggered a major police investigation. And yet no arrests were made or criminal prosecution. Instead it was a number of operations that were set up which eventually led to  two men, Jack Arthur Whomes and Michael John Steele convicted of the murders and sentenced to life although Whomes was released after serving 23 years.

The lurid murders and the uncovering of a major drug scene in Essex caught the imagination of a nation as well as  film makers and  it was in  2003 that Carlton Leach wrote and published a memoir about his criminal exploits. Titled Muscle the book  covered his association with Tucker and Tate especially but he had distanced himself from the pair owing to their violent methods. But the book was adapted into a film in 2007 called Rise of the Footsoldier that would star Ricci Harnett as Leach and covered his years as a football hooligan and his eventual involvement in running doors on Essex night clubs during the years of the rave scene and the rise in use of ecstasy.

With the release of Rise of the Footsolider Vengeance, the sixth film in the franchise we take a look and rate the films starting with worst to the best….

 

  1. Rise of the Footsoldier 2 (2015)

There had been eight years since the original film and it was Ricci Harnett who would return to play Leach and would also write and direct the film. However a legal battle saw him lose the rights. This first sequel further followed the life of Carlton leach  but Harnett, having lost the legal battle claimed on twitter than the film was fictional and no longer his story. The film was critically mauled and was the worst perfoming of the franchise at the box office

Ricci Harnett addresses the audience at the films premiere……

  1. Rise of the Footsoldier : Marbella (2019)

This was the fourth film by which time Craig Fairbrass as Pat Tate was established as the star of the franchise and saw Tate out of prison, back running nightclubs and running drugs but unable to take his mind off the man who put him away and sets off to Marbella to find Frank Harris and wreak revenge only to find that Harris long dead and the new Mr Big in the drug business is Terry Fisher who offers him a huge drug deal. All Pat needs is the cash that his mates Tucker and Rolfe will deliver but their best laid plans to drop off the money goes wrong, After the brutalilty and the violence of the previous three films Marbella was lighter in tone almost to the degree of it becoming a screwball comedy as the pair try to get to Marbella in time but finding plane flights, drinking, brothels and a German tourist in a camper van thwarting their attenpts. Still entertaining it was perhaps a slight misstep with the fans wanting the brutal, in your face violence of the previous films and Marbella performed only marginally better than Footsolder 2 at the box office.

Terry Stone talks about his career in the films…..

  1. Rise of the Footsolider 3 (2015)

The third film lost Leach as the star of the franchise seeing more box office potential in Pat Tate as played by Craig Fairbrass with Tucker and Rolfe as able support. It also introduced characters and actors who would become regulars in the franchise that would include Jamie Forman, Josh Myers, as well as a number of unexpected cameos most notably Happy Mondays front man Shaun Ryder (who meets a spectacularly brutal demise), along with Larry Lamb in a role far removed from Gavin & Stacy. The third film would set the template for the series as it went forward – bone crunching violence, the most potty mouthed of scripts that would put Tarantinio’s to shame and unexpected appearances from unfairly long forgotten stars. The film performed well at the British box office and showed there was an appetite for Tate and co.

  1. Rise of the FootSoldier Origins (2021)

Producer Andrew Loveday who had been involved with the film since the first sequel and had directed the Marbella outing which he had also co written. Origins saw him set away from directing to focus on producing and writing which he did with this fifth films director Nick Nevern himself an actor but had moved behind the camera  notably with cult fan favourite ‘The Hooligan Factory’ which he also starred. It was good preparation for this fifth film and he and Loveday had put together a scintillating story with various plot lines that covered the …well origins of Tucker’s rise to dominance running the doors of Essex nightclubs. The template of unexpected cameos and casting stars who had fallen out of favour saw Keith Allen, Billy Murray ( who continues to reprise such roles in the output of Shogun productions) P H Moriarty ( remember him as Hatchet Harry from, ‘Lock, Stock) and two shooting barrel’s), Michelle Collins, Heavy D and of course Vinnie Jones a suitably violent counterpart to Fairbrass’ trigger haired tempered and  psychotically violent Pat Tate. The violence was as extreme as ever and audiences lapped it up and the film became the biggest box office earner to date and a sixth film was assured. Read our review here

Craig Fairbrass talks about the making of the film…..

1. Rise of the Footsoldier  (2007)

The one that started it all remains one of the best. Co-written and directed by BAFTA nominee Julian Gilbey the film followed Carlton Leach a well known West Ham football hooligan drawn into further and far more dangerous criminality that saw him becoming involved with Tate, Tucker and Rolfe but savvy enough to see that it was a lifestyle that was only going to end one way and got himself out. The story leading up to those three murders was a gift to film makers and Rise of the Footsoldier was not the only film made about what happened – Essex Boys had come out several years earlier and more would follow but it was Footsoldier that would take of despite a first sequel that almost ended it all before it began.

 

We chat to Craig Fairbrass about the latest film ‘Rise of the Footsoldier : Vengeance’….

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