"Expelled unfairly from Harvard, American Matt Buckner (Elijah Woods) flees to England to his sister's home. Once there, he is befriended by her charming and dangerous brother-in-law, Pete Dunham (Charlie Hunnam), and introduced to the underworld of British football hooliganism. Matt learns to stand his ground through a friendship that develops against the backdrop of this secret and often violent world." http://movies.yahoo.com
NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Mansi. who says... "I really liked this movie, despite Charlie Hunnam's dodgy Cockney accent - he didn't quite nail it despite him being a Pommie but his performance was very charismatic. It's not one of those thoroughly artsy movies that most regular people don't quite enjoy. In short, guys will like it because of the brutal brawl scenes and girls like me will enjoy it not only because it's different and broadens our understanding of the rest of the world, but also, on a totally shallow note, that one glimpse of the hunky Charlie's rock-hard abs makes the movie worth it!"
The movie starts off with Charlie Hunnam's character Pete, leading his 'firm' West Ham (term describing soccer excuse me, that's football -gang) down into a train station, presumably to go to a football match, and then we see another firm on the opposite platform. The two firms begin yelling obscenities at each other, and before long, it's an all-out brawl ..It should be noted that these gangs don't believe in firearms - they believe in raw fistfights and maybe blunt objects that lie around and come in handy.
Cut to the pleasant campus of Harvard where Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) is packing up his work stuff at school, then going to his dorm room and packing up there as he's been expelled from Harvard He finds an envelope with $10000 cash and figuring it's from his roommate Jeremy Van Holden, throws it in a trash can. Jeremy turns up, and we find out that Matt took the fall for Jeremy during a drug bust. Jeremy offers to hook him up when he graduates but Matt won't have any of it; he just wants to leave. He tries calling his famous journalist dad but only gets his voicemail; we get the impression that Carl Buckner has hardly ever been present in his son's life.
Matt picks up the wad of cash and makes an impulse decision; we see him at the International Flight desk and then getting off at Heathrow airport in London. During the train ride to his destination, he opens a thesis folder that has been assessed: he received an easy A, with a comment that the thesis was graduate work and an offer for a job. He gets off the trains station where the above-mentioned brawl was, and exits to face a massive clean-up operation carried out by uniformed officials, shoveling up broken class and the like. He is greeted by his sister Shannon and cute baby nephew Ben, and jokingly inquires whether there was a terrorist attack; she replies that it was simply match day (or something to that effect)
She takes him to her townhome and he fills her in on what happened. Her husband Steve arrives home and Matt meets him for the first time. Steve takes Matt aside and tells that while he is happy to have Matt over, he won't be able to be the good host that night since he has special plans for Shannon. Matt is ok with that, but suddenly there is loud banging on the back door and Steve opens it to reveal Pete standing there. Pete launches into a story about drinking too much but Steve cuts to the chase and guesses accurately that Pete needs money because he lost his wallet during a football brawl. At first Steve is unwilling, but then he spies Matt and gets an idea. He offers a 100, which he puts in Matt's hand, if Pete will take him to the match. At first Pete is not happy to be escorting a 'Yank' around but then gives in. He and Matt take off, but as soon as they've rounded a corner, he tells Matt to hand over half and entertain himself. Matt refuses because Steve told him specifically to not give the money to Pete directly, and a minor scuffle ensures in which it becomes clear that Pete Dunham can easily whup Matt's ass if the need arose. It seems however, that Pete is amused at Matt's attempt, as feeble as it was, and decides to let him experience a dose of English football madness.
They meet up with the rest of the gang, including the sully Bovver who's not at all happy that a Yank is midst them. But everyone else takes to Matt, who proves to be a good sport in the face of their teasing. After many pints, they take off to the match stadium, taking care to shield their faces from the stadium's many cameras at the entrance. Once at the match, Matt is caught up in the frenzy of the game. Bovver makes it all the way to the opposite end of the stadium and stirs up the opposing team's firms, setting them up for a brawl later.
After the match, Matt decides to take off home, but unbeknownst to him, some members of the opposite firm have kept an eye on him. Once alone, they jump him and are in the process of violently bullying him when his new football firm buddies come to the rescue. A brawl ensues ( .surprised .?!) and they chase the baddies down an alley before jumping into a van, ready to take off. But they soon discover it's a setup when a rock is thrown at the windshield and in typical non-thinking fashion, they spill out and take off after the perpetrator, only to discover themselves facing a sea of angry firm members. Matt sees that they are desperately outnumbered and, like the sensible guy he is, wants to run as fast as he can, but of course, the firm's reputation is at stake and Pete will defend it and his buddies no matter what. They put up a good fight before being joined by another hoard of their firm's members - they 'win' and Matt experiences the euphoria brought on by the violence.
The events hereafter may be out of order but this is the gist of it:
Matt returns to his sister's and she as well her husband (Pete's brother) get quite upset at Pete but then Matt tries to come to his defense; there is a scuffle and both boys are basically kicked out. Steve feels badly for what transpired. As the weeks go by, we see Matt becoming assimilated into the group, much to the chagrin and annoyance of Bovver. In fact, Bovver takes an unhealthy dislike to Matt. In one scene where he takes off alone, he meets the leader of the firm that his firm is mortal enemies with, Tommy. It quickly becomes obvious that Tommy is a beast of a man when he terrorizes a patron of the restaurant they're in just because the poor guy's girlfriend was talking a little too much for Tommy's liking, bashing his head silly. Tommy is also cunning, sensing Bovver's dissatisfaction with Pete and extends an invitation to join his firm. At this point Bovver is still loyal to Pete but he won't let up on Matt, seeking any reason to cause him to fall from Pete's graces.
There is one scene in which there is a staged fight; Pete gets Matt to drop him off at the train station where he is to meet the rest of the gang, and forbids Matt from joining them. Matt disobeys however but is already on the train when they find out. Bovver is even more displeased. One of the firm members is already at their destination because he's a pilot (yes, really .and Pete is a school history teacher .honest! In fact, all these knuckleheads hold very respectable jobs) and gives them the dismaying news that the rival firm's members have caught wind of their arrival and are lying in wait at the station; West Ham is going to be caught unprepared and outnumbered. Unfortunately, the train they're on is an express, stopping nowhere but their now-treacherous destination but there is the brilliant idea of pulling the fire alarm and the train comes to a screeching halt at a tiny forsaken station where there is no other transportation in sight ..except a truck. Matt has an idea .
The rival firm is getting impatient but then are interrupted by a truck. They are suspicious of the truck but then they see little ole Matt, who tells them in his best Yankee accent that they are a filming crew for Paramount blah blah blah, and the truck rolls calmly right through them, then stops. Matt hops out, opens the back, and out pour West Ham, in full force .there is a brawl (you should get used to this by now !) and the authorities turn up, seizing the rival team while West Ham gets away, leaping for joy at their success.
Meanwhile, Matt is getting along splendid with his firm, and even enjoys their frequent brawls, of which there is no lack, and quite graphically filmed too. Pete is also the football coach at the school where he teaches, and in one amusing scene, gets his troup of junior high-schoolers to whup Matt's ass in a game of football. Matt has told Pete that he is a history major, and the reason he's in London is because of Jeremy Von-f*#king-Holden.
Also, his dad Carl has caught up with Matt and they talk - it is revealed that even though Matt has appeared to have given up on journalism for a while, he still keeps a journal. Carl convinces his son to at least join him for lunch some major local newspaper head honcho, and when they make their way into the London Times office, who should spy them but Bovver. Bovver immediately assumes the worst when he sees Matt shaking hands with the people there, and takes off immediately to rat on him to Pete. They burst in on Pete just out of the shower (ahem .girls .pay attention !!!) and Bovver and his buddies tell Pete what they saw - Pete at first is resistant to them entering his flat this way, and tells them they'd better be sure but they are, and so they burst in and tear into his backpack. They happen upon his laptop and find his journal - one of them is disappointed that he's not mentioned but on the whole, they are furious. Meanwhile, Steve accidentally finds out from Shannon that Matt used to study journalism and knows this spells disaster for Matt.
We also find out that the football match draws have resulted in a showdown featuring one of the worst rivalries: West Ham versus Millwall. Steve struggles with going down to the pub where he knows everyone will be gathered but eventually goes for Matt's sake, even though he knows Shannon's anger will know no bounds. He sees Matt and pulls him aside - we also find out what caused Steve to quit the hooligan scene: he witnessed Tommy's 12 year old son get his head completely crushed in one of their legendary brawls and that was the last straw for him. Shannon was his salvation and he had no intention of returning to the scene. Tommy on the other hand, rather than learning, just became the worst species of man, losing every bit of humanity along with his son. Anyways, things come to a head at the pub for Matt, when Pete confronts him violently, but Matt, in his defense, says that Pete knew his dad was a journalist, and that he only studied journalism but then quit that. Pete believes him, but Bovver tries to get Steve to step in, but Steve tells him that Pete is the leader now. Matt is taken aback when he realizes that Steve is the former, highly respected Major, who was responsible for creating their firm. Pete, sensing that his brother is relying on his good instinct and judgment, tells everyone to back off. He then hauls Matt off to the restroom and tells he'd better have made the right decision. Bovver is by now thoroughly disgruntled with his firm and takes off to Tommy. Tommy finds out the only bit of information that he is interested in: Steve's location; he blames Steve for his son's death. Tommy and his firm make their way to the pub where Steve is, and Bovver, too late, realizes their cruel intentions of a surprise attach but is knocked out by a bottle to the head. Tommy and his crew take the West Ham firm by surprise, throwing bottles through the window and torching the place, then bursting in. In the brawl (yes, another one .!), Steve is seriously stabbed by Tommy - Pete and Matt rush him to the hospital and it seems that he is critical but will be ok. A fight is arranged in a remote location to vindicate Steve, and we know that this will be a full-out, mother-of-all brawls. Bovver is disgraced and banished, and we sense his anguish at having betrayed the Major, his firm. He is disgusted with himself.
Shannon is very upset and in tears, and makes it clear that, as per their agreement, if he were ever near this sort of scene again, she will leave him, and prepare to leave him she does. Pete tells Matt to go home as well, that this is not his place. Matt takes Shannon home but then after dropping her off, takes off to the remote location to back up Pete. Shannon realizes this when she's leaving for the airport, and instead of going to the airport, goes to where the fight is, with baby Ben in tow (stupid, I know )
The two firms face off, and violence ensues. Both teams are taking a battering - Pete is taking a hammering from Tommy, who bashes in his leg but then Bovver comes flying out of nowhere to his rescue. Just then, Shannon drives up, and Pete and Matt voice their panic that Tommy is an animal, and will stop at nothing to destroy Steve, including his innocent family. Matt runs to Shannon, telling her to leave for her own sake, but is set upon by Tommy's goons - Pete sees this, and turning to Bovver, tells him that if he can get Steve's family out of there, he will be considered redeemed. Bovver wastes no time in taking out Tommy's goons who are crawling all over the SUV with Matt trying desperately to keep them off. Tommy starts off towards the SUV but the injured Pete goads him, very deliberately provoking him in the worst way to divert his attention. It works, albeit too well, because Tommy goes ape and turns on Pete. Pete has no chance and is helpless on the ground as Tommy punches him uncontrollably in the head. By the time somebody realizes and pulls him off, Pete is dead. He sacrificed his life for the safety of his brother's family. Everyone solemnly backs off as they realize the tragedy - Matt tells Bovver to go to back his firm, that he's got his family under check. We see both firms gathered around Pete, and the heartbroken Bovver crying over his body.
We see Matt driving towards the airport, having learnt so much from his short trip. Then, later, we see Jeremy Von-f*#king-Holden and his cronies in a fancy club, all talking about how lucky he is; he obviously graduated and is in a position of power. Jeremy excuses himself for a bathroom break (read as: snorting coke break) where he proceeds to indulge his habit. We then see Matt walking in the restroom, and he kicks in Jeremy's stall door. Jeremy, ever the smug dickhead, tells Matt that he wants to finish his business. Matt plays dumb, reminding Jeremy of his promise to hook him up, and Jeremy gets exasperated, admitting that yes, he did set him up, and promised to look after him, but has absolutely no intention of making good on his promise. The now-very-grown-up, streetwise Matt is furious and hauling Jeremy off his ass, takes a swing at him, stopping just short of his formerly-smug but now chicken-shit, face. He then reveals that he intends to return and claim his place at Harvard, and he's going to prove his innocence since he's taped their little conversation. Jeremy Van Holden is toast.
The final shot is of Matt walking calmly and confidently down the street, and his voiceover explains how he learnt from Pete, when to go for what you believe in, and when to stop and reassess the situation.
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