05th May2015

‘The Long Good Friday’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, P.H. Moriarty, Kevin McNally, Alan Ford, Dave King, Bryan Marshall, Derek Thompson, Eddie Constantine, Paul Freeman, Leo Dolan, Patti Love, Pierce Brosnan | Written by Barrie Keeffe | Directed by John Mackenzie


The gangster movie is a beast very like the gangs it is based on.  Depending on the country of origin the crime organisations tend to have certain looks and style and a certain tradition that they cling to as their laws of how to do business.  The modern gangster movies are definitely an example of this, but they also share one thing in common, they lend a lot from The Long Good Friday which gets the Arrow Video treatment with its new release on Blu-ray.

Harold (Bob Hoskins) is a British gangster with an eye to capitalism and being a successful business man.  Seeing London as his empire he is taken aback at the incredulous actions of a shady syndicate that appear to be encroaching on his territory.  Striving to find the source of his problems he soon finds the answer, pushing him to take care of business the only way he knows that works, with bloody mayhem and carnage.

The Long Good Friday is a gangster movie that doesn’t take the usual paths of gangland warfare but ask the questions of not only greed but also ideology.  Harold’s enemies aren’t in it for the money but for the belief system they are willing to die for, something he just can’t seem to comprehend.  Their encroachment into his business is not about stealing his territory but in funding their own personal war, something much bigger than gangsters trying to control London.  This is a battle that transgresses political and religious lines, something of a terrorist nature and not organised crime they just don’t fit into Harold’s world and this is the fatal flaw in any actions he takes and leads to his downfall.

Arguably what makes The Long Good Friday iconic is the performance by Bob Hoskins, in the breakthrough role that gave him international recognition, even if the movie had a troubled release.  Hoskins plays the character of Harold in the natural way that Hoskins has always been famous for, he makes the character believable and likable.  It is questionable as to whether we should like Harold, he is an aggressive thug who uses his fists (and other weapons) before his brain.  Hoskins manages to make the audience feel for the character, especially when we realise just how out of his depth he is.

One thing that won’t go unnoticed by fans of the genre is the number of British stars in The Long Good Friday.  Alongside Hoskins we have Helen Mirren, P.H. Moriarty (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), Kevin McNally, Alan Ford (Snatch), a young Pierce Brosnan and many other stars of not only movies but also UK television.  Keep an eye out for a young Dexter Fletcher in one scene.  It is quite an impressive cast.  Mirren should be noted for her performance though, and her work behind the scenes to make sure that her character was adapted to fit a role she would feel more comfortable being in.  All this is shown in the special features and shows what a force she was in creating her character which is memorable for being much more than it seems she was destined to be.

The features on the disc are as impressive as always, especially with the making of documentary and commentary by director John Mackenzie.  This is particularly interesting there are plenty of details that he highlights for the view that they may have missed.  Also in addition to these is the inclusion of Apaches a short film also directed by John Mackenzie that was created as a warning to school children about the dangers of playing on farms.  The most surprising aspect of Apaches is the level of violence actually show on the screen, to think that this was shown in schools as a warning to kids is surprising and I’m sure people who saw it still remember it to this day.  I’m not sure they would show something like that in schools these days (though I remember one that was shown in my school of similar shock value about the dangers of playing on train tracks).  For fans of horror Apaches is an interesting little film with a surprisingly sadistic edge, focusing on the killing of children for educational purposes.

The Long Good Friday is a film that all fans of British gangster movies should watch, along with movies like Get Carter, The Italian Job and maybe even The Krays, this is a movie that has inspired a lot of the more modern work.  Whether it be Guy Ritchie movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch or any number of similar movies more recently released off the popularity of his work this is the quality of gangster movie they strive for.  Released in an impressive Steelbook edition this is a must buy for fans of not only gangster movies but British cinema and, of course, the iconic Bob Hoskins.

***** 5/5

The Long Good Friday is  out now on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray Steelbook.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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