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March 8, 1999 - March 21, 1999
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Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Hits the Bull's-eye

 

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By Nate Cohen
Guardsman Staff Writer
Published Mar. 8, 1999

 

Guy Ritchie’s directing debut, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, is as hip as it is intelligent.

The cast is a colorful bunch of hooligans and criminals. British football star Vinnie Jones plays the philosophical and, ironically, moral "enforcer," Big Chris. His boss, Harry the Hatchet (P.H. Moriarty), holds a high-stakes poker game which Eddie (Nick Moran) deals himself into, representing not only himself, but also the lads, Soap (Dexter Fletcher), Bacon (former Levi’s model Jason Statham) and Tom (Jason Flemyng).

Eddie, an unbeatable card player, takes the lads’ share to the table against "the Hatchet," where he is duped into losing an unspeakable sum of money, which must be paid in seven days’ time. The lads must devise a scheme to get the cash, and the pressure is on. What follows is nothing short of gut-wrenching.

I had a chance to meet with Guy Ritchie and two cast members, Statham and Flemyng. They were quite the characters and had a fun time with the group of reporters I was with. One of the major topics of inquiry was the use of slang.

The film is riddled with what Londoners call Cockney Rhyme Slang. It goes a little something like this: a "Gunga Din" means your chin, a "Gregory Peck" means your neck, "slabs of meat" are your feet, and "cherry pies" are your eyes.

Confused yet? I asked them if slang was hard to script. Ritchie said, "It was not at all complicated or cryptic ... [it was] open to interpretation [by the cast] but as scripted as David Mamet." Flemyng added, "The ease of speaking [in slang] comes from knowing the terminology."

When you watch the movie you have to keep up with the slang, as it adds an authentic and comic aspect to the interchange between characters. It was also apparent these actors were extremely comfortable with each other, and to this Statham replied, "The chemistry of our cast augmented our being able to pull off some of the bits."

We were also curious about location. "I wanted to shoot in the East End because English films aren’t typically shot in this area and I found it more aesthetically pleasing, with its cobblestoned streets, and the Georgian architecture ... it represents a digression from [traditional] English cinema," Ritchie said about his choice to set the film in London’s notoriously seedy East End.

The film has already made its debut in England and is being compared to such indie classics as Reservoir Dogs and Trainspotting. Ritchie says he doesn’t mind being placed in a genre. We can judge for ourselves when the film makes its West Coast debut in Portland, O.R. and San Francisco on Friday, March 12.

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