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DVD Review

DVD cover

A Day of Violence


Starring: Nick Rendell, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Christopher Fosh, Tina Barnes and Steve Humphries
101 Films
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 18
Available 09 August 2010

Mitchell Parker is a small time enforcer and debt collector, who thinks he has struck it rich. On a routine job to collect two grand, he finds the mark has one hundred grand stashed away. Not wishing to miss an opportunity of a lifetime he kills the mark and makes off with the money. With his new found freedom he quits his job and goes to work with a local gangster, only to discover that he is way out of his league, but worse still is the fact that the hundred grand that he ripped off belongs to his psychopathic boss...

A Day of Violence (2009 - 1 hr, 31 min, 05 sec) is a crime thriller in the grindhouse tradition, written and directed by Darren Ward. The film is an indie low budget affair.

A lot of these film have come across my desk in the years that I have been reviewing and in truth most are derivative drivel, so it's nice to see a low budget film which tries to hang each of its elements into a coherent whole.

The fate of Mitchell (Nick Rendell) is never in doubt as the film opens with him laid out on a slab with most of his belly missing, though until it happened I was nicely distracted from the character who delivers the final blow.

Mitchell is not a nice bloke; there is no Guy Richie cheeky chappy about him, he lacks both wit and brains, which he counterbalances with a propensity for graphic violence and greed. Rendell does not appear the greatest actor in the world, but then his character is not the deepest either, this may be doing the actor a disservice, as I recognised in his portrayal many aspects of real people who are just like Mitchell.

The stealing of the hundred grand is almost inconsequential to the plot as the main thrust of the film appears to be the display of graphic violence, and it is very graphic. You get the usual shootings, stabbings and cut throats, but Ward wants to further disgust/titillate by going that extra mile. The scene where Smithy (Steve Humphries) gets his meat and two veg severed with garden shears made me look away, and god only knows what made me watch a film with possibly the most bloody tooth extraction torture before I had to have an actual tooth pulled is anybody’s guess.

The difficulty is to know what Darren Ward's impetus was in making the film. Are we to see it as a retort to Guy Richie’s portrayal of London gangsters as lovable rogues, because the real ones are portrayed much more accurately in this film, or is the violence so graphic as to likewise challenge recurrent portrayals of killing as relatively free from pain and blood? The PR sites The Long Good Friday as an influence, though apart for a few elements A Day of Violence cannot be considered in the same league.

Although the film is framed well the overall quality does reflect the small working budget. The acting is variable, most of the actors and actresses seem to have gone for a naturalistic style except for Victor D. Thorn (Curtis Boswell) who overacts the part of the psychopathic boss a little too much. For Italian fans, it was nice to see Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Hopper) in a relatively small part, as the mark that Mitchell kills.

The film comes with a number of extras, including the Making of (22 min, 39 sec), which has contributions from the cast and crew and was a welcome addition to an indie film. The disc is wrapped up with Trailer - Hard Version (2 min, 49 sec) and Trailer - Soft Version (2 min, 43 sec).

This is by no means a great picture but it is a superior film in the context of its genre and budget, just try not to let your partner see you squirm like a girlie when Smithy loses his manhood, it’s an image which takes time to fade.


Charles Packer

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