Football hooligan films, while fresh and exciting for a short period in the noughties, have now pretty much squeezed out every inch of originality from the genre. The arrival of a new release called "The Hooligan Factory," then, does little to inspire anticipation.
Where Nick Nevern's film differs from its predecessors, however, is that it is a spoof hooligan film (think Scary Movie but for football fans), poking fun at all those ridiculous scenes and storylines you feel like you have come across and been bored by a thousand times before.
Telling the tale of teenager Danny's rise from adolescent nobody to core member of one of the nation's most notorious football firms -- having been taken under the wing by fresh-out-of-jail Dex -- the plot the film is attempting to parody becomes instantly recognisable. Dex, understandably, wants to take revenge on an old foe called The Baron, who was responsible for the death of his son as well as his stint behind bars. And so the film builds up to a final face-off between the pair and their respective gangs.
It hurtles along at a breakneck pace and is bursting at the seams with cheap thrills, while we are introduced to a number of amusing characters along the way. En route, the film makes reference to old favourites such as "The Football Factory", "Rise of the Footsoldier" and "The Business", while a few familiar faces pop up, including a brief cameo from the Godfather of hooligan films, Danny Dyer.
"The Hooligan Factory" clearly strives to breathe new life into a stale genre, and by not taking itself seriously one ounce, it certainly achieves that aim. It is, however, almost fighting an impossible battle and is very much limited by the unoriginal films it tries to make fun of in the first place. In its efforts at parodying the genre's tried-and-trusted plot, it finds itself falling into the trap of becoming as predictable as the rest of them. In effect, it is just a rehash of "Rise of the Footsoldier," but with added jokes.
That isn't to say the film does not have its merits, though. At 90 minutes, there have certainly been less inspiring football matches and there is enough going on through the hour and a half of "The Hooligan Factory" to keep the viewer entertained, particularly those with a penchant for such films that combine football with violence. An award-winner it ain't; an enjoyable watch it is.