The Guv'nor Review
Director: Paul Van Carter.
Since my teens I have always been intrigued and curious about the real characters of the criminal underworld. Never delving too deep myself I have had the pleasure (and some not so nice) of shanking hands with some notorious faces. I would need the books about British gangland detailing, quite boldly the tales of drama that happened on the streets of London, and underneath them.
One of my favourite people was Lenny McLean, known by many as The Guv'nor. Out of the all the east end gangster books I had read, his story was my favourite, as I admired his moral code especially how one frightening part which could have been a robbery, but he only took what was owned. It's a book I would strongly urge everyone to read, in fact, this film has rekindled my admiration and will pick up the pages again.
His son Jamie takes us down memory lane and who else better to do so, but, isn't there a danger of him being slightly biased? Yes, but only ever so slightly and he does incredibly well to tell his Dad's story without judgment, or favour, just telling it how it is. Writer/Producer Paul Van Carter, highly credited for the Gascoigne documentary, makes this his impressive directorial debut and they do so well, being a challenge to squeeze such a legendary man into a feature length documentary.
Filmed in London, right at the roots of the story, we're given a guided tour of the home Lenny and family grew up in and lived in. Some iconic places with some now swept away by time and redevelopment, it's a nostalgic journey. Seeing the original promotion posters for the fights and the collection of home video and interview snippets really adds the impact of his legend.
It's interesting to hear the stories from people close to him and from people who knew of him and his reputation. His friends, family and even Lock, Stock heads, Guy Ritchie, Jason Flemyng and Vas Blackwood. It's refreshing to hear comical and nice stories behind the toughest man in Britain instead of the violent and sometimes nasty tales.
It also reminds us, or tells us of an era where London streets was very much a warrior's world. Being a man took courage and true strength to defend yourselves, your friends and family, and your word. Shit got real in those days, and while there is always people about on the streets looking to take liberties, today lacks the street justice that actually protected those not wanting to get involved.
It doesn't glamourise the underworld, the East End or the violence, instead it reminds us all that even though someone might have an immense and dangerous reputation, they're people as well, telling a story not just of the king of doormen, the champion bare knuckle fist fighter, or even the celebrity gangster some might perceive him as, but as a loving father, a gentleman and a family man who was thrusted into a world of violence not by choice. His word being stronger than himself, declaring with such conviction it knocks out any doubt, being very much a man of "I do what I say, and say what I do."
It's a surprisingly touching and emotional tribute to an incredibly infamous man, and it shines a light on the history behind the legend, his own pains and abuse, his love for his family and his lost battles. Rest in Peace Lenny McLean, The only real Guv'nor to me.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for a brilliant and touching documentary of one of London's most respected warriors.
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes.