2010 Running time: 100 Certificate: 18 Not yet rated

Synopsis

The hoary tale of the three drug dealers blasted to death in their Range Rover down an Essex lane is given the big screen treatment... for a third time. This latest version charts the rise of Tony Tucker (Terry Stone), Patrick Tate (Tamer Hassan) and Craig Rolfe (Neil Maskell) to become the most prolific dealers and loathed gangsters in the south of England, maintaining the hold on their empire with fear and violence until their untimely death. The story was previously filmed as Essex Boys with Sean Bean and Rise of the Footsoldier, which also starred Stone as Tony Tucker, and featured both Maskell and Kierston Wareing. Solid Brit gangster action with some fearsome performances.

Director

  • Sacha Bennett

Cast

  • Tamer Hassan

  • Terry Stone

  • Neil Maskell

  • Lucy Brown

  • Vincent Regan

Review

Say what you like about Hollywood, at least they know how to chronicle the seedier side of American society. Just look at true crime epics like Goodfellas and Donnie Brasco.

In the UK, however, we seem to be starved of decent true crime material, so when three odious drug dealers get their heads blown off in a Range Rover, we spend the next 15 years banging on about it.

Following on from Essex Boys and the truly execrable Rise of the Footsoldier, this latest effort is a typically bloody account of the events leading to the notorious Rettendon Murders of 1995.

Based on the book by Bernard O'Mahoney, events kick off as convict Darren Nicholls (Adam Deacon) falls in with prison kingpin Mickey Steel (Regan).

Together they make a pact with psychotically violent inmate Pat Tate (Hassan) to flood British clubs with drugs smuggled from Europe.

Meeting tough guy Tony Tucker (Stone) and his dealer pal Craig Rolfe (Maskell) on the outside, Tate forms an alliance with the men to distribute Steel's merchandise.

Despite the financial success of their operation, the gang's brutal, unhinged behaviour brings them into conflict with the low-key Steel, who exacerbates matters by having an affair with Kate (Kierston Wareing), Tate's abused wife.

As Tate, Tucker and Rolfe scheme to remove Steel from the equation, the wily drug importer has some deadly plans of his own.

If liberal use of the C-word, casual violence and the chance to see Tamer Hassan wee on a naked man appeals, then Bonded by Blood is the film for you.

If your tastes are a little less niche, however, you may find it to be tacky, gratuitous, badly acted, risibly scripted nonsense that lionises the horrendous antics of its deeply unpleasant subjects under the pretence of depicting the so-called truth about their grisly deaths.

Ironically, the truth is still fairly elusive by the time the credits roll, as title cards reveal that everything you've endured for the last 97 minutes may not actually be true at all.

On the plus side, the performances are vivid, with Hassan showing some promise despite the ridiculously profane dialogue and shallow script.

For all its manly posturing, however, there's no hiding the fact that Bonded By Blood is ultimately pretty anaemic, giving no further insight into an already over-exposed incident.