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GANGSTER NO 1
USA: IFC Films
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Saffron Burrows, Jamie Foreman
Director: Paul McGuigan
USA: 103 mins
UK: 102 mins
USA Rated: R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, and brief drug use and nudity
UK Certificate: 18 for frequent coarse language and strong bloody violence
USA Release Date: 14 June 2002 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
UK Release Date: 9 June 2002
Set in London in 1968 and the present day, GANGSTER NO.1 is the story of a deadly battle of wills played out between a gangland leader and his apprentice, a young man who emulates him to the point of psychosis and beyond.
The time is present day. The scene is a boxing-match dinner at a deluxe London hotel. At the head of the top table sits Gangster (Malcolm McDowell). Master of all he surveys. King of London's gangland and the place Gangster always planned to be. Life couldn't be sweeter ? until Gangster learns that Freddie Mays (David Thewlis), his old boss and mentor, his old rival and tormentor, is coming out of prison after doing 30 years for murder.
Flash back, to London 1968. From Gangster's point of view, we watch this epic story unfold. At this time, Freddie Mays is King and he enjoys all the trappings that being royalty brings. He's known as 'the Butcher of Mayfair', because he killed a bent cop and got away with it. All Freddie's men ? that's Tommy, Mad John, Fat Charlie, Roland, Billy, Eddie ? look up to the boss. So does Gangster, the new boy on the scene. When Freddie sees that Gangster can handle himself well, he puts him on the payroll and then he makes him his right-hand man. Gangster admires Freddie and everything he possesses. In service to Freddie, Gangster will wreak revenge, torture and even kill.
When the boss's nightclub is petrol-bombed 'accidentally' by a rival firm led by Lennie Taylor (Jamie Foreman), Gangster takes care of the careless person who made all that mess. Then Gangster and Roland uncover a plot by Lennie Taylor's men to kill Freddie Mays. Roland wants to inform the boss but Gangster now wants to keep the news a secret. So he must dispose of Roland. It's a special technique that Gangster will use again when disposing of Lennie Taylor and his top man, Maxie King. Someone must pay for the disposal by doing time, and the person sent down is Freddie Mays. But before he goes to prison, a blood-curdling battle of wills takes place between him and his ambitious young apprentice. A battle that reveals a chilling portrait of cunning, deceit, obsession and violence.