I wasn’t planning to review Thirteen Lives, Ron Howard’s dramatization of the 2018 Thai Cave Rescue. After all, I had already reviewed 3 other films covering the story, and this isn’t really a soccer movie. In fact, wikipedia has placed it in the genre of “biographical survival film”. But I noticed that search engines were finding my website because of my review of 13 Lost (2020), so I thought I should give readers a chance to know how I compare this film to the other versions.
It’s such a shame that Cosmoball had its theatrical release during the pandemic, dooming it to financial failure. Because this movie is a hoot. If you are curious about the Russian ability to make a CGI Marvel-universe type blockbuster, watch this film. Right now you do not need to pay extra to watch it with your Amazon Prime membership.
Released just 2 months after Bigil, one might write off Champion as a literal poor man’s version of that big budget production. Champion‘s star (Vishwa K as Jones) is an unknown newcomer, there are no dance scenes or music videos, and there is no CGI. Both films relate to criminal life in the slums, but the 2 films don’t really compare.
Is it fair to write a review when I abhor horror movies? To add to my dilemma, I could not force myself to finish watching Kick – Sudden Death because it simply defied logic. Maybe that’s what horror movies do; since I don’t watch them, I can’t really judge. So to compensate, I will keep this review short.
Sikandar opens with the activities of a small Muslim village in a beautiful mountainous setting. As school lets out, children stream downhill to the market plaza. A child spies a loose soccer ball, kicks it, and it explodes, blowing apart everything and everyone in the plaza. Welcome to routine life in Kashmir.
90 Minutos is an excellent first feature from Pulsar, a young Honduran filmmaking company. Director Aeden O’Connor Agurcia and Writer Daniel Frañó fused 4 disparate stories from Honduran life, each with a connection to football. But soccer is mainly a vehicle to capture movie-goers’ attention in a futbol-crazy country.
The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is one of those old-time whodunits that would normally disappear in the depth of film archives but for one redeeming grace: it has unique football scenes of Arsenal FC. It is also touted as the first feature film where football is a major part of the story.
Based on a popular 1939 mystery novel of the same name, the movie was released the same year. In the story, Arsenal plays a charity match against the Trojans, the best amateur team in the nation. During the game, a Trojan player falls dead on the field. The game is terminated and rescheduled for the following week, and Scotland Yard is called in.
Leslie Banks plays Inspector Slade, a clever but quirky detective more engrossed in the charity theater revue he is putting on and the hats he wears for different stages of an investigation. In classic film detective trope, the Inspector figures out that ladies man Doyce was poisoned, finds the weapon, lines up the suspects, and figures out how to identify the killer in the Wednesday makeup game. One of the key suspects is model Gwen Lee (Greta Gynt), who is having an affair with Doyce even though she is engaged to his teammate.
A snapshot of that football period
The soccer action is game footage from the last match played at Highbury Stadium before the advent of World War 2, between Arsenal and Brentwood FC. Much like in The Great Game, you get a feel for the crowds, the uniforms, the play, and even how football was filmed back then. I don’t know how authentic the stadium interiors are, such as the dressing rooms and the treatment room that separates them.
The film starts off in Arsenal’s smoke filled screening room, where various players, manager and staff are puffing away while watching the newsreel that will go out to theaters.
Another scene is in an Arsenal meeting room where real-life Arsenal manager George Allison plays himself conducting a strategy session with the team on how the Trojans will play. Unaware of this fact, I remember thinking during that scene that the actor must have really studied football in order to speak those lines so quickly and confidently. 🙂
Also, take note of the makeup of the Trojans — educated men whose careers include chemistry (the maker of the pharmaceutical poison), investors in the pharmaceutical project, and graphical design. No bakers or plumbers on this team!
I most enjoyed Banks’ performance as Inspector Slade, which was apparently a role that went against type. Though he’s only in half the film, Anthony Bushell drew my eye because of his resemblance to a young William Hurt.
I watched this film on youtube but had trouble understanding the audio, which was a bit muffled. If you can find a good copy to watch, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is a sweet little detective classic, and if you’re really a soccer movie buff, you have to add it to your arsenal.
6 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 6
The actress Vivica A. Fox has had 2 key roles that convey strength or a killer instinct (Independence Day and Kill Bill). She has leveraged these traits to produce a series of 14 “Wrong” movies for Lifetime TV, of which The Wrong Student is the 2nd film.
Jada is an uncommon mix of soccer, drama, romance, comedy, and suspense. Some reviewers deem it a confused mess from first-time Director Kumaran. But if you go along for the ride, there is a lot of entertainment value in this multi-faceted football film from India. And if you’re shut in, it will occupy 2 hours and 12 minutes of your endless day.
Behind the benign title of Lost in Africa is a thriller that embodies every mother’s worst nightmare: her child vanishes. It’s not really a soccer movie as much as it is a reflection of the hard and dangerous life in Kiera, a Kenyan shanty town.
When West Ham United decided to demolish its 112 year old Upton Park stadium, maybe you wanted to protest or pronounce good riddance. Instead, Producer Marc Goldberg conceptualized “Diehard in a football stadium”. The Brothers Lynch quickly put together a script, and in Feb-2016, Scott Mann signed up to direct a movie that had to be shot within 6 months, before the stadium went to pieces.
The last time I watched a film with Lethal in the title must have been Lethal Weapon 2, 3, 4, or 5. (Is there a Lethal Weapon 5?) I figured Lethal Soccer Mom was a click-bait film that would be a grind to watch.
After The Football Factory, I swore I wouldn’t watch any more Hooligan movies. They seem to be a genre of violence, sex, and drugs, with a little bit of football as context. As in, we gotta go to a West Ham game on the way to the violence, sex, and drugs we are going to do.
And I don’t understand why it’s always West Ham hooligans.
Below the Earth’s Surface (or Gaping Abyss) is a German TV action movie in a stadium, it is not really a soccer movie. But it has good production values and rolls along at a tense pace.
Danica McKellar has grown up from being Winnie on the Wonder Years, to Inspector Mom. This TV movie led to a short-lived series about soccer mom Maddie Monroe, a former police department employee who is a pretty good sleuth on her own, ala Angela Lansbury in “Murder, She Wrote”.