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Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1999, Jason Statham, Nick Moran)

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Guy Ritchie’s voyage into the world of the East End is an immensely enjoyable and energetic modern classic, even if it’s as authentically gorblimey as its creator. A quartet of friends led by Eddy (Nick Moran) pool their savings for a card game with porn baron Hatchet Harry (PH Moriarty), who has fixed the odds in his favour.

Minutes later, Eddy is £500,000 down, with fellow debtors Bacon (Jason Statham), Tom (Jason Flemyng) and Soap (Dexter Flethcer) in despair. When they hear that Eddy’s drug-dealing neighbours are about to rob a rival and pocket the proceeds, they decide to hijack the haul for themselves. Local gang leader Rory (Vas Blackwood) has also taken an interest in the haul, unaware that Harry’s enforcer, Big Chris (Vinny Jones), is on everyone’s tail, and demanding a slice of the action for himself…

Off screen, Ritchie owed his own figurative debt (to The Italian Job, Scorsese and Ealing Comedy) and a literal debt to his private financiers, who came close to seeing the film disappear without a UK release. Within a year it had taken £11 million, fuelled by incredulity that a homegrown project could be so rewarding. The blend of violence and comedy belies the team’s inexperience, with Ritchie’s apprenticeship served on minor commercials and pop promos, and the editor poached from work on Thomas the Tank Engine.

Performances are excellent, with Jones coming straight from a police cell (on an assault charge) to deliver a knockout debut while the late Lenny McLean, alias ‘The Guv’nor’, a Kray twins contemporary and bare-knuckle fighter, offers a ferocity that seems more practised than rehearsed. Moriarty lends yet more menace and echoes his performance in The Long Good Friday, another Ritchie influence that he would revisit with Snatch, via the casting of scene-stealer Alan Ford.

production details
UK | 105 minutes | 1998

Writer and Director: Guy Ritchie

cast
Jason Statham as Bacon
Nick Moran as Eddie
Vinnie Jones as Big Chris
Alan Ford as Alan / Narrator
Dexter Fletcher as Soap
Vera Day as Tanya
Steven Mackintosh as Winston
Nicholas Rowe as J
Huggy Leaver as Paul
Danny John-Jules as Barfly Jack
P.H. Moriarty as ‘Hatchet’ Harry Lonsdale
Frank Harper as Dog
Elwin ‘Chopper’ David as Nathan
Jason Flemyng as Tom
Sting as JD
Lenny McLean as Barry the Baptist
Stephen Marcus as Nick the Greek
Peter McNicholl as Little Chris
Nick Marcq as Charles
Tony McMahon as John
Andrew Tiernan as Man in Pub
Steve Sweeney as Plank
Charles Forbes as Willie
Vas Blackwood as Rory Breaker
Jake Abraham as Dean
Victor McGuire as Gary
Rob Brydon as Traffic Warden
Matthew Vaughn as Yuppy In Car