6 July 2012 | hitchcockthelegend
I can smell Bill, smell it here I don't.
i.d. is directed by Philip Davis and written by Vincent O'Connell. It stars Reece Dinsdale, Warren Clarke, Claire Skinner, Richard Graham, Perry Fewick, Philip Glenister, Saskia Reeves and Sean Pertwee. Music is by Will Gregory and cinematography by Thomas Mauch.
Four policemen go undercover and infiltrate a gang of football hooligans who follow Shadwell Town. There mission is to root out their leaders, the ones pulling all the strings. But for one of them, John (Dinsdale), the longer the operation goes on, the more he finds he loves this world of hard drinking and fighting.
It became something of a cult hit back in the 90s, at a time when football hooligan films were still rare. Nowadays they are two a penny, with a ream of wide boy directors mining the source for easy cash while turning the topic into pop culture matter of fact. i.d. (it is spelt that way on the film) is a different animal to the MTV styled other hoolie movies in a lot of ways, it is set in the 80s but it feels archaic, in fact it feels much earlier with its clothing choices, fans decked out in scarves, admission fees into grounds only £3.50/£4.00 and the way supporters are caged on the terraces. Even the terrace songs hark back to the 70s. This old time feel, coupled with the low production value, is a world away from the likes of The Football Factory and Green Street, where dress codes were as important as toughness! i.d. does have realism, but it's a realism long before football hooliganism became a source of books, films and trendy badge of honours.
Davis' film is more concerned with showing how the thrill of it all can drag down the most upstanding citizen. In this case Dinsdale's (terrific and a splendid shift from sit-com niceties) young ambitious copper. His descent into being a full blown hooligan is very real, the addiction of the fight, the camaraderie of the gang, the wine women and song that replaces the humdrum of everyday working life. It doesn't offer up any answers, in fact things are deliberately left ambiguous in the end, but the message is sharply etched into the story and the pic is high on social value. It should have been bolder by making more on racism of the time and expanding upon police overkill at football matches, but it never glorifies the topic to hand and backed by a very watchable cast, rounds out as football hooligan film of some substance and standing in the genre pantheon. 8/10