Oh dear, oh dear , oh dear.  Life can be cruel. Just when the electrifying brilliance of Slumdog Millionaire has renewed optimism for the future of British cinema, along comes Clubbed and all hope is dashed.

This is nothing new, of course. For every Trainspotting, Made in England, or Sexy Beast, there's a Rancid Aluminum or Lady Godiva ready to bring us back down to size. Though Clubbed likes to reference great British cinema it woefully lacks the originality or style to hold its own in such illustrious company. The best of Britsh low-budget fare is exhilarting, funny, moving, and inspiring, Clubbed by contrast is dull, alienating and ill conceived.

Danny - a divorced factory worker, gets himself beaten up and humiliated in front of his kids.  On the verge of total breakdown and contemplating suicide he decides to fight back by joining a local boxing club. Here he  meets a group of night-club doormen who take him in and give him the confidence to stand his ground. But with his new found confidnce comes encounters with the local underworld, setting in motion a train of events with shockingly brutal consequences.

Uninspiring, violent underworld flicks are a genre of their own in the UK and this particular entry into the canon is as pointless as any of  its predecessors.  What sets this one apart are its pretensions to be something more than your average glorification of hardman violence. The film wants us to consider Danny's transition from a loser on the verge of a nervous breakdown into nightclub bouncer as a philosophical and redemptive journey.  What we actually get to see is a quiet man learning how to headbutt drunk idiots.

Despite the limitations presented by the films plot, it is possible to see a decent enough film lurking  in there somewhere. However a poor script coupled with inconsistant and often fatally unconvincing performances kill off any hope of it ever emerging. On the plus side the film does acheive a grainy realism, has the requisite period soundtrack, and does have moments which are genuinely affecting. Once or twice I even found myself warming to the film despite its many imperfections. However normal service is soon resumed with several scenes so woefully mishandled they just cannot be forgiven. Precisley when the narrative demands a dramatic punch we get either a  dodgy line or appalling direction deflating any tension in an instant.

Only Maxine Peake, giving her all to the underwritten role of the nagging estranged wife, emerge from this with their big screen credentials enhanced.She certianly deserves to be offered better films than this in future, a lot better. But then, don't we all?

Official Site
Clubbed at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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