“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Theatrical Release: 2008 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Neil Thompson / Actors: Colin Salmon, Mel Raido, Maxine Peake, Ronnie Fox, Scot Williams ... / DVD released 2009-05-18 at Route One Releasing / Features of the DVD: Dolby, PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
WARNING: Massive Spoilers!
At 6:30am on 15 November 2005 I found myself waiting outside Glen Smith's "Red Corner" gym in Coventry. It was dark and cold, and I was tired, and yet my diary entry reads like the blabbering of an excited schoolboy: "My day began with a dream come true!" It was for a very good reason. Until the middle of June the following year Geoff Thompson took in an invitation-only group of coaches and friends to work out with him. I was fortunate to have been invited to this group. Those gatherings inspired a lot in a very short space of time. Geoff used it as a blueprint for his master classes. Two of his coaches, Matty and Tony, also now teach their own master classes. As for me, I had already appeared on the front over of Martial Arts Illustrated alongside Geoff earlier that year and part of our training at the Red Corner gym was used for the second part of my DVD series. However, it was after these short but intensive sessions, where we drilled striking and grappling for an hour, that the real gold appeared. During these post-workout sessions Matty and I organized the first John "Awesome" Anderson seminar and Tony Somers convinced me to conduct my first public workshop at the biggest martial arts expo in UK, "Seni". It was also during these discussions that Geoff discussed his current projects - and the biggest of them all was his first feature film "Clubbed".
At 8:40pm on 18 January 2009 I entered screen eight of the Coventry Showcase cinema. It is a drizzly evening and I will need to get up early the following morning. I love the cinema, but my exciting and very packed year will mean that most films I wish to see will end up on my DVD rental list. This one won't. I'll buy it. In 2009 "Clubbed" went on general release. I watched it during its opening weekend not just to support Geoff, who I regularly credit as being a huge inspiration in my martial arts and writing career, but because I have eagerly waited for the "Watch My Back" story to finally make it to the big screen. It has been a long journey for Geoff and such is the style of his work that most of his regular readers feel like they have travelled the journey with him.
Geoff's first book was "Watch My Back: A Bouncer's Story". It was finished when he was still working the doors in Coventry and taken up by a small travel book publisher, Summersdale. "Watch My Back" predated the slew of "True Crime" autobiographies that now includes gangsters, football hooligans and underground fighters, and the "Tragic True Story" subgenre that occurred much later. Geoff was and still is a prolific writer and it wasn't long before he had brought out several books with accompanying videos on his approach to martial arts and self defence. Geoff often describes martial arts as his vehicle for getting his ideas across. His main fan base came and still comes from his impact on the martial arts scene. However, there is one experience that seems to have permeated his soul even more profoundly and reoccurs again and again through most of what he does: working the doors in 1980s Coventry.
It wasn't long after "Watch My Back" that Geoff published "Bouncer" and then "On the Door", which concluded the story of Geoff's career as a doorman. All three books would be amalgamated into a single volume "Watch My Back" with added material that included more about Geoff's troubled past and the motivational lessons he learnt. The grittiness was still there, but there was a more positive slant to the work and "Watch My Back" departed from Geoff's series of martial arts-related works. It was sold alongside his "Method" series of books, motivational works that he continues to write now. However, Geoff was still not finished with the demons of the door. He recalled how fears of confrontation and violence had been replaced by the fear of repercussions of living a violent life. This fear is expressed Ray Winstone's character, Dave, in Geoff's first short film "Bouncer" and is paraphrased from the Fredrick Nietzsche quote: "He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself".
A fight towards the end of Geoff's career on the doors almost resulted in his opponent dying. This brought the stark reality of the possibility of a life sentence in prison. Such a fear influenced the dark twists of both "Bouncer" and Geoff's first stage play, "Doorman", as did the "every doorman's nightmare" of revenge attacks by their enemies. In "Bouncer" the violent and legal repercussions are linked and this is carried over into "Clubbed". However, before he got to the feature film, Geoff had one more outlet to channel his story into: "Red Mist". I know of at least one film-maker who actually considered this book, alone, to be movie material.
"Red Mist" was Geoff's first foray into fiction. Far more demanding than non-fiction, Geoff laboured hard on what would become a successful novel. The work meshed true experiences that couldn't go into "Watch My Back" with fictionalized accounts of the nightmarish consequences Geoff feared during his career on the doors.
"Red Mist" is worth mentioning because of two main differences that separate it from "Bouncer" and "Doorman". The most obvious one is that the story does not revolve around working the doors. The lead character, Martin, is just a normal civilian whose decision to step in and help someone plunges him into a world of violence. Because of this he is a more sympathetic character than the charismatic but narrow-minded Dave from "Bouncer" and the complex and tortured violence-addict, Tony, from "Doorman".
The second major difference was its ending. Unlike "Bouncer" and "Doorman", "Red Mist" does not resemble a tragedy of errors, although the first half of the book reads like a tragedy of circumstances or what the great Aristotle might have called a "Misadventure". I remember when I first read it thinking that Martin was like the ill-fated innocent heroine Tess of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" in the way his life seemed to victimize him. By the stage when Martin ran from his sexually and violently abusive father to a priest who also revealed himself to be a paedophilic predator I was beginning to think it was actually closer to the Marquis De Sade's heroine, Justine from the nihilistic "Justine (or the Misfortunes of Virtue)". However, this was not to be the case. In line with the positive motivational writings that now made up all of Geoff's non-fiction output since the millennium, "Red Mist" showed readers a flawed and very human hero that learnt from his mistakes and used the bad luck that had victimized him as a source of strength to fight back.
"Red Mist" also introduced Geoff's troubled past, including the child abuse that Geoff suffered at the hands of his Aikido instructor. This harrowing information taken from Geoff's background had been added to the new version of "Watch My Back" and formed one of the book's major themes of redemption. The child abuse was wisely not present in "Clubbed", but given focus in his award winning 2007 short, "Romans 12:20". What was present, however, was the genesis of the type of person who sought out the career of a doorman to confront his fears.
"Red Mist" had presented a man who went on a personal odyssey, who feared the worst, but ultimately made the right decisions. Nevertheless, like "Bouncer" and "Doorman", the main protagonist came in fully formed. He had the knowledge and ability, but had chosen to atrophy and allow the burden of his bad experiences crush his self-esteem. The journey through "Red Mist" saw him get back into physical and mental shape, confront his past demons and then take on a life defining challenge. This was progress on from Bouncer's Dave who was a likeable character created from several different people Geoff knew on the doors, most obviously Geoff himself and John "Awesome" Anderson, but blinkered to anything other than life working on the doors. Tony from "Doorman" was clearly more self-aware and the extra time and focus permitted in a stage play meant that Geoff could really expose the vulnerabilities of a man who made violence his profession. However, it still didn't express the full story behind Geoff's "Watch My Back".
In "Clubbed" we have both the Geoff Thompson persona and the John Anderson persona presented individually and other supporting characters also fleshed out in relevant sub-plots. Danny is introduced as the most vulnerable embodiment of Geoff's fears to date. He has less self-esteem than Martin, suffers more depression than Tony and begins the film with a vision even more limited than Dave's. Unlike all these characters and even Geoff, Danny has no physical training whatsoever when he encounters the realities of violence. As if to lay bare another tortuous fear, Danny is brutally and humiliatingly beaten in front of his own children, who he was only trying to protect. His relationship with his ex-wife is also given time and his weakness through infidelity revealed as part of his back story.
Danny is presented with three maps for life that are embodied by the three doormen he meets in a local boxing gym and eventually joins. In line with Geoff's personal philosophy, these three characters are actually outward projections of the main character. Each are essentially flawed human beings with redeeming features. Sparky is immediately presented as the least likeable of the three. He represents the fallen and when we meet him he is already beginning his descent. Like Macbeth, Sparky is not a bad person, but temptation hits him early and he takes the infamous easy root. His counterpart is Rob, a far more sympathetic person, but one who has his own hang-ups attached to a long dead drug-using and wife-beating father. Finally there is Louis, the most obvious John Anderson-inspired character in any of Geoff's fiction. Louis is the head doorman and the man who becomes Danny's mentor. He is the closest to a pure character in the story, but his role as nemesis's enforcer comes with a heavy consequence and, once again, we see the legal penalty that haunted Geoff at the end of every violent encounter.
"Clubbed" lays bare much of Geoff Thompson's favourite themes, ideas and his philosophy. Much of this has been lost on early critics who have been quick to pigeonhole the film under the British gangster category. It is true that gangsters are a part of the film. The character, Henesey, is a drug dealing gang boss and just the sort of "dragon" Nietzsche was talking about. The Faustian pact Henesey makes with Sparky and the chance violent encounter one of the gangster's thugs has with Danny are catalysts for the main events that occupy the film. Other characters then become devices to show Danny the different paths he can take. The character of Rob gives actor Shaun Parkes a chance to revisit the tragic good doorman persona who suffers the violent after work consequences of working on the door. In "Bouncer", he played the affable character, John, a man who didn't take a serious comeback threat seriously. In "Clubbed" the running time of a feature film allowed this character to be expanded upon. It also explores the nature of Geoff's "reciprocal universe" philosophy. On several occasions Geoff has stated that even "well intentioned" violence, like the vigilante type that Rob uses, will have repercussions. This reveals the moral fable at the heart of the film.
Despite the obvious karmic theme there is a decidedly Christian message in "Clubbed". Such mixtures do not seem to be a concern for Geoff who follows a very liberal and principle-based view of Christianity. He has regularly cited the discipline of Judaism's Kabbalah, the writings of Hinduism's Bhagavad Gita and the virtues of Buddhism before using the rich "fire and brimstone" metaphors found in Dante's Catholic view of heaven, hell and purgatory in "The Divine Comedy" and Milton's Protestant view of the fall of man in "Paradise Lost". "God is like the internet" he has often said to me, "and religions are like search engines". Geoff, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, does not see religion as being above reproach. As previously mentioned, both "Romans 12:20" and "Red Mist" feature Catholic priests who sexually abuse young boys. "Clubbed" may present the religion in a slightly better light as Rob's mother clearly finds solace in regularly attending her local church, however, there is still a light ribbing when it is later revealed that the "taxes" Rob was taking off ejected drug dealers and donating to the church's children charity ended up paying for the church's roof!
However, this is all fairly superficial stuff when we compare the Christian symbolism that is in the very fabric of the film's storytelling and perhaps deep within Geoff's own subconscious. The most obvious example can be found when Rob is quite literally crucified (interestingly the crucifixion does not escape Geoff's pragmatic nature, as the wrists are nailed, as opposed to the hands, which is in line with modern scientific historical thinking). Sparky's fall, perhaps reminiscent of the many falls from grace found within the Old and New Testaments, results in his suicide born from the misery he has plunged his life into and the guilt of Rob's murder. It is tempting to see altered biblical disciples in these two characters: perhaps a Peter who did not heed the warning "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword" and Sparky, a type of Judas that finds redemption in death rather than damnation.
Sparky is the newest of Geoff's character archetypes. He is far more than an example of "becoming the dragon". He is an exploration of weakness, addiction and finally redemption. His subplot which drives the destinies that Louis, Rob and Danny face is an extreme example of one of Geoff's tragedy of errors. In this sense, he is a true tragic hero and, once again, I find Macbeth as the reference for his valiant side reappears when all is lost and his destruction is in sight.
Louis is, of course, the single most fascinating character in the story alongside Danny. He is almost perfection and therefore the role model for Danny uses to overcome his fears. However, his flaws are representative in a failed relationship he mentions and his dream of becoming a boxing coach that he closes the door on before moving towards his destiny. Knowing that Ayn Rand's novel on personal integrity and individualism, "The Fountainhead", is one of Geoff's big sources of philosophical inspiration I first pondered whether Louis was Geoff's Harry Roark presented as a supporting role. Then I realized that despite not being the one actually crucified he represented a more Christ-like figure. Geoff claims that this wasn't an obvious intention, but I feel it nevertheless comes out in this work. Louis has his followers and he has a philosophy that Danny uses to realize his potential, and - in the end - he is the sacrifice needed to allow Danny to make the right decisions. According to Geoff's personal philosophy if you have good intentions the universe conspires to help you and Louis is an example of a device that does this for Danny. Interestingly this presents an interdependent idea to go alongside the "God helps those who help themselves" independence that Danny finds in his personal struggles.
"Clubbed" completes Geoff's doorman circle. The film appropriately ends with Danny finishing his first draft of the book that the film is derived from, "Watch My Back". As I left the cinema on that dark and wet night I thought of all that I knew had led up to that film. There was a definite pattern and I first glimpsed it during those cold mornings training at the Red Corner Gym. Every week Geoff would return to the same martial arts technique. It was a process he called "layering". The idea was that you continually improved and expanded your skill level by going back to a certain point. Geoff has done this through his various products. His first book focused on his days working the doors, his first play and short film were exclusively about this part of his life, and his first novel was clearly inspired by this period. Since then he has made several other more successful award-winning short films and is currently back into writing stage plays. It was only appropriate that his first feature film would also return to this life-changing period of his career. The question now is what will happen when he returns to layer this most of powerful conveyor of ideas?
*From my website www.clubbchimera.com*
Clubbed is a British crime/gangster movie set in the eighties in an unnamed UK city. If you know anything about the screen writer Geoff Thompson you'll know the city to be Coventry.
It follows the fortunes of Danny (Mel Raido), a broken man after the break up of his marriage, he seeks solace at the boxing club next to his daughters dance class. Taken under the wing of street warrior philosopher Louis (Colin Salmon) he soon becomes one of a close knit gang of bouncers, one of whom Sparky (Scot Williams) is in deep with a local gangster. As you'd expect things turn nasty, and as Danny becomes stronger and more confident the deeper he gets drawn in, but can he get himself out before it's too late.
Based on the aforementioned Geoff Thompson's autobiographical Watch My Back, Clubbed is an extremely low budget film directed by Geoff's brother Neil. On occasion this lack of budget shows, but largely Clubbed gets away with it and is hugely enjoyable if utterly predictable yet at the same time strangely unclichéd. As a result of the excellent performances and gritty realistic atmosphere which sets it apart from other British crime dramas.
At times it's grittiness reminded me of (in tone) Boys From The Black Stuff so successfully does it capture the feel of the period. Further adding to the atmosphere is an excellent soundtrack of late disco/early house.
As a result of the film I bought Thompson's excellent self help book Fear: The Friend Of Exceptional People which has a small but important part in the film.
Let me start by saying I think that films like Clubbed are prime examples of why well made British films are hard to beat.
Colin Salmon is brilliant as the head doorman who takes the lead character Danny under his wing, gives him self-confidence and teaches him the art of pugilism. This movie is about a man who basically reaches his lowest ebb, is physically and mentally destroyed but who decides to literally fight back. He then gets dragged into an unseemly world of violence and retribution on the door of the local nightclub and against a local bunch of thugs who have made his life hell.
Danny is a fearful, self-hating factory worker from the West Midlands who has allowed his own negative thoughts and actions to dictate his life for him. He is estranged from his wife and daughters due to his infidelity. Danny is also scared of confrontation, which leads to awkward moments for him.
One day, when taking his daughters out, Danny gets into a confrontation with some local thugs who procede to beat him to a bloody pulp in front of his daughters.
This beatdown leaves Danny at his lowest possible ebb and prompts him to decide that it's time to fight back or give in altogether.
Danny happens upon a boxing club run by Louis (Salmon). Here he learns self-defence and self-confidence. He even eventually ends up working at the local nightclub with Louis and his 2 colleagues, Sparky and Robert.
It is on the doors of the club that Danny develops an animalistic side that brings him into direct conflict with the local thugs who made his life hell and sets up a great finale.
I saw this movie at the cinema and was lucky enough to be given a complementary copy of the movie's source material - Geoff Thompson's excellent "Watch My Back", which took me all of a day and a half to read, it's that good.
It's not all blood and thunder though, the characters are believable and well-rounded, the tale of the working man's struggle is brilliantly portrayed and it has a great ending.
Colin Salmon - Louis
Mel Raido - Danny
Shaun Parkes - Rob
Scot Williams - Sparky
Maxine Peake - Angela
Director - Neil Thompson
Running time - 1 hour 35 minutes
Set in Birmingham, this movie depicts Danny an out of work factory worker who is down on his luck and looking for a new career. Whilst waiting for his daughter to come out of dance class one time he takes a trip to the gym and before you know it he's a regular visitar.
Being the type of rough gym it is he quickly makes friends with a bouncer who works at the door of some of the night clubs in Birmingham. With both his confidence and body being build up, he soon finds himself working a long side his new friend at the door, and is catapulted into a world of violence.
This film is very good in my opinion but is very graphic and violent, which I don't mind but some people may find disturbing. Regardless of this fact the acting in this is superb, although, it does not have any big names.
I liked this film and would recommend it to anyone who likes this type of film.
This is not a film I would normally choose for myself, however I liked it.
The lead character, Danny, is a divorced factory worker lacking in confidence and self respect. He finds himself drawn to the boxing gym whilst waiting for his daughters' dance class to finish, and is soon training there regularly in an effort to boost his strength and confidence. He soon becomes firm friends with Louis, a nightclub bouncer and fighter, who gives him an opportunity to work with him on the doors. In doing so, Danny finds himself involved in a violent world with shocking consequences.
The story is set in the Birmingham in the eighties, with the fashions, music etc giving the film a very eighties feel.There are no big names in the movie, but I foud the acting was a very high standard particularly Mel Raido who plays the main character Danny.
The plot was gripping and you do end up caring about the charactors. There is violence throughout but one particulary violent scene was, in my opinion, too graphic.
What I liked most about the movie was the twist at the end which is unexpected and pleasing.
This movie is well acted with excellent screenplay and soundtrack. It is worth a watch by anyone who isn't bothered by violence.
I'd actually never heard of this film until reading bruffyboy's review the other day and decided I had to check it out. Clubbed is a gripping tale revolving around the life of a father seperated from his wife and kids who is having problems with his confidence, his world changes when he's invited to get physically fit and start boxing in a gym located next to his girl's dance classes. The gym is ran by a big chap called Louis (Colin Salmon) who also works as a local doorman with his pals Rob and Sparky at a top-end club in the town.
The film is filmed in Birmingham but seemed to be trying to give off a more northern vibe to me, it's set in the early 80s and whilst starting off like a rough version of Where the Heart Is, it soon turns into an on the edge urban crime flick with various storylines running simultaneously and coming together for a grand finale, which could be seen as quite shocking and is therefore no wonder the film is an 18.
There's a clever twist at the end and I think most people will find themselves vying for the main character and the group of doormen instead of the nasty local gangster Hennessey. The film is nice combination of drama and action, just when you think the film is getting a bit depressive it ups the anty and turns into a bit of an action film. A bit like a working class Rocky! The dramatical scenes are very well done and I think the actors really impressed.
Can't recommend this film enough!
Clubbed is a true story adaptation based on the book, 'Watch my back' by Geoff Thompson. I am glad to be reviewing this as I have watched this film twice and it gets better every time.
Clubbed is set in the 1980s, it is a story about Danny played by Mel Raido, who is a lonely factory worker ridden with fears and self doubt. He is constantly intimidated by the thugs and struggles frequently to appease his ex wife, Angela played by Maxine Peake, for her permission to be with his children in the weekends.
Danny met a group of nightclub doorman who help him to gain his confidence to stand on his own ground. The nightclub is a magnet to drugs and the clubbers are search for drugs before they are allowed into the club. All but one doorman, Sparky, played by Scot Williams, make sure that there is no drug dealing in the club. This sparks off a chain of events involving the gangland boss and subsequently into shocking brutal consequences.
The pace of events move quickly as the film draws the audience into the emotions of Danny; his fight against fear, intimidations and his fight for justice and loyalty to his friends.
The author- Geoff Thompson
Geoff Thompson is a Bafta award winning screenwriter and author. His is also a self defence instructor. He has written dozens of books on self defence, martial arts and fear control. He is also a motivational writer with a large following of loyal supporters all over the world.
Clubbed is an adaptation of his autobiographical book, Watch My Back, which was on the Sunday Times bestseller list. His personal involvement in the production of Clubbed have ensure that the film stay true to his life story.
The cast of Clubbed is a list of familiar faces seen in TV dramas and films.
Danny played by Mel Raido
Mel Raido was last seen in an ITV prime time drama 'He kills Copper', Mel Raido have also appeared in various TV dramas such as Midsomer Murders, The Vice and Red Cap. Clubbed is Mel's first starring role on the big screen.
As the main lead, Mel Raido successfully portrays Danny's character as being a lonely man ridden with fears and self doubt. His children is the main catalyst for his need to overcome his fears and to stand on his own grounds. He later shows his sense of justice and loyalty to his friends when he became embroiled in gang activities, fights and the law.
Rob played by Shaun Parkes
Shaun Parkes is a familiar face on TV dramas and on the big screen. He have starred in various groundbreaking roles in Heartbeat, Casualty, Soldier Soldier, Harley Street, Dr Who, The Mummy Returns and Notes on a Scandal.
As Rob, he plays the role of a doorman who detests drug dealers due to his personal experience with his father. Rob antagonizes the gang boss by throwing out the drug dealers from the club and donating the drugs money to the church. His action brought him dire consequences, a brutal scene that will be talked about for a long time.
Sparky played by Scot Williams
Scot Williams acting career spun from the role of Pete Best in the Beatles Biopic, Backbeat, TV drama, Hillsborough, recently BBC1's Lilies and Channel 4's, Cape Wrath.
Scot Williams played Sparky brilliantly. Sparky is a rogue doorman who also works for the gang boss as a runner in the drug trade. He secretly allows drug dealers into the club, only to be thrown out later by Rob. His involvement with the gang dealings subsequently changed the lives of his friends, the nightclub doormen and his personal downfall.
Louis played by Colin Salmon
Colin Salmon is renowned on TV and on big screen. He was 006 in Bond films such as Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is not Enough and Die Another Day. He has starred in Alien vs. Predator, The Silent Witness and Resident Evil. He is also appearing in the latest series of Dr. Who.
Louis is in charge of the nightclub doorman. He is a believer of Zen and the art of fighting without fighting. He helps Danny gain his confidence and he controls the nightclub with a firm hand. Louis later takes the law into his own hands by avenging the death of his friend.
Angela played by Maxine Peake
Maxine Peake has her first break in the Victoria Wood sitcom, The Dinner Ladies. Since then she have been in many highly acclaimed TV dramas such as the mouthy Veronica in Shameless, as Myra Hindley in See No Evil: The Moors Murders, Confession of the Diary Secretary and most recently in Little Dorrit.
Angela is the estranged wife of Danny. She divorced Danny because of his infidelity and kept a watchful eye on his visitation rights. She threatened to take away his visitation rights when she hear of his involvement in a fight in the presence of his children. She is torn between giving Danny a second chance and her distrust with him.
The other casts includes: Ronnie Fox and Neil Morrisey.
I watched this film initially with much apprehension. I was told about the fighting and violent scenes and I did not look forward to watching it. I had a ticket to the film premiere and decide to give the film a chance. (and of course plus the excitement of going to a film premiere).
Though some of the scenes were brutal and violent, the core of the story about human weaknesses, struggles and friendship kept me glued to the film from beginning to end. The 80s scene brings me back to the time of disco fever, with familiar music and outlandish outfits of suspenders, checked shirts and hats.
Released date: 16th January, 2009
Runtime: 95 mins
More information about the film and where it is screen can be found in the film's website. http://www.clubbedthemovie.com/