19th Apr2021

‘Original Gangster’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Alex Mills, Steve Guttenberg, Alex Mills, Adam Deacon, Ian Reddington, Vas Blackwood | Written and Directed by Savvas D Michael

Just when you thought British gangster movies could’ve scrape any lower than the bottom of the barrel, along comes Original Gangster.

The film follows Castor, a young boy who is orphaned when gangsters murder his parents, but sentimental assassin Milo spares his life. Years later, once Castor has reached adulthood, the two are reunited when Castor steals from one of Milo’s men to survive. Milo sees a budding gangster in Castor, who has resorted to violence to sustain himself in his mostly homeless existence. Milo procures a job for Castor as an enforcer. Castor is happy to repay Milo for saving his life, but finds himself increasingly uncomfortable the cold, emotionless existence of a criminal. Castor must make a choice between living the violent, empty life of a gangster or to pursue his lifelong dream of having his own family.

To be fair to Original Gangster, I’m not a huge fan of the straight-forward “British gangster” film, however the synopsis of Savvas D Michael’s Original Gangster sounded like an interesting take on the well-worn; well, I’d say more like well worn out, gangster movie that filmmakers in the UK seem to want to churn out. Team that with the poster art (above) and I thought we were in for a light-hearted romp, a playful “gangster” film along the lines of Blue Iguana, or a one-man anti-gangster vengeance machine. Nope. It was not to be.

Savvas D Michael does make some attempt to change things up – some ridiculous use of music adds a real theatricality to the film, whilst the voice over adds a noir-ish feel to proceedings. However when you have Steve Guttenberg in a long blonde curly wig, over-acting like he’s been told his life LITERALLY depends on performing like a uber-flamboyant over-exaggerated Elton John-esque gang boss, there’s NOTHING. I repeat nothing, that can save your film. Well… except for maybe Ian Reddington, playing Castor’s saviour Milo, but Savvas D Michael kills him off halfway through the film!

It’s not all Guttenberg’s fault. He’s just the insane cherry on top! The rest of the film is unfortunately a real chore to sit through. Five minutes feels like 10; the films almost two hour running time feels like four; with the mundanity of Alex Mill’s noir-like voiceover doing nothing to raise excitement or interest. Instead it does quite the opposite – the monotonous delivery makes even dangerous moments in the film feel dull.

And that’s the issue with the entire film. It’s just dull. There’s no excitement to anything that happens – its all very slowly paced, very matter of fact, including the all-round slaughter of people that takes place during the film! It’s not something I’d expect from a “gangster” movie, but if that’s what Savvas D Michael aiming for – a very matter of fact interpretation of gangster life – then he hit the nail on the head. If not… Well, let’s just say some tighter editing and a zippier script could have helped this story immensely. That and reigning in some of the more over the top performances which really does take you out of the story.

Ultimately it’s hard to recommend Original Gangster to anyone other that those people that keep British gangster movies being made. There’s obviously an audience for gangster movies here in the UK because people keep finding the budgets to make these types of films and finding distribution; and I’m guessing Original Gangster will appeal to the same kind of folk.

Original Gangster is out now on digital from Saints & Savages/SP Releasing.


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