Saturday 12 September 2015

The Rise of The Krays

On the 9th of September, Legend was released in UK cinemas. Legend is a new big budget film telling the story of the Kray twins, starring Tom Hardy in both roles. What better way to cash in on that than by making a terrible, low budget film clearly trying to fool the less informed that this is Legend – even going so far as to carry the tagline BRUTAL. NOTORIOUS. LEGENDARY. Makes you sick, doesn’t it?  

Zackary Adler directs The Rise of The Krays, which is out now on DVD & Blu-Ray. For those who don’t know, Ronnie and Reggie Kray were twin brothers and gangsters who were the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. As is reflected in the title, the film is more about the brothers’ rise to power rather than spending much time showing them at their full strength – which is what the Tom Hardy film focuses more on. So I guess the filmmakers can say they’re not completely copying Legend, anyway…

I won’t sugar-coat it. The acting in The Rise of The Krays was just awful. Simon Cotton and Kevin Leslie (Ronnie and Reggie, respectively) are just the most miscast actors for the roles I could imagine - you’d get a better and more believable pair of performances as The Krays from Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson. Cotton overacts to the point of just being laughable – especially when having one of his rage scenes which looks like he could go green any minute (“Don’t make Ronnie angry. You wouldn’t like Ronnie when he’s angry…KRAY SMASH!”), while Leslie looks like his mind is elsewhere for all of his scenes. Outside of these two, everyone in the film struggles to get a believable cockney accent out or give any of their characters even the slightest bit of depth. Visually, the film reeks of low budget with shoddy CGI (in an attempt to make the locations era-authentic) and just a general cheap feel. Even if you were watching this for free, you’d feel ripped off. Cotton stated that this film “can’t compete {with Legend) in terms of budget” but that Ken Brown, co-writer with his son Sebastian, knows more about the Krays than anyone so their film will at least be more authentic.

Now I don’t know a huge amount about the Krays story, but from what I’ve heard that’s bollocks, because this film is supposedly riddled with inaccuracy – and that’s not including the modern cars in the ‘1960s’ London! But at the end of the day, this isn’t trying to be a film of quality. Nor is it trying to be a history lesson. The Rise of The Krays is marketing itself as being ‘from the producer of Rise of the Footsoldier’, one of many British football hooligan films. And this film is even funded by both the ex and current chairmen of West Ham FC, so it’s clear who the target audience is. Not the critics. Not anyone after a high-brow piece of thought-provoking cinema. It’s just a cheaply made couple of hours of violence for football fans to sink their teeth into while they wait for the next game. And that’s okay!

But for me, The Rise of The Krays is one of the most desperate and pathetic cash-grabs I’ve seen in recent years and actually quite laughable in its timing and release. The team behind it claim they were developing this long before they’d even heard about Legend but it all seems a little convenient they’ve shoved this rushed little film less than two weeks before Legend hits UK cinemas. If you want to learn about the Krays, go and watch Legend. Hell, even 1990’s The Krays starring Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet in the lead roles is better than this. And that’s saying something.

The Rise of The Krays is a rather abysmal little film and earns a generous 1/5 for effort.

Sam Love

The Rise of The Krays at CeX

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