From writer and director Mike McCarthy, the bloke behind 2006's lousy WITCH HOUSE: THE LEGEND OF PETRONEL HAXLEY, comes SIX BEND TRAP. A film largely shot in Middlesbrough and featuring more than one UK soap veteran among its cast.

It all starts off in agreeably alarming manner with several men sprinting round a greyhound racing track at night, stark bollocks naked. Along the way, various meatheads put them out of their misery - by baseball bat, shotgun etc. In an odd way, it looked a little like a scene from SALO re-written as violent comedy...

From there, we move to a Middlesbrough club where Danny (Martin Owen) wows the audiences by singing with his indie band, Dan T's Inferno. All seems to be going well for him - he loves performing and scores well with the women as a result.

But for his mates, tour van driver Daz (Daniel Poyser) and would-be band manager Rusty (Ian Edwards), life is not so kind. Rusty is as unsuccessful at gaining full-time employment as he is with scoring a bird - he ends up with Lisa Riley (ex-Emmerdale) the first time we see him - while Daz falls foul of loan sharks that end up taking away the band's van as partial payment towards his debt.

So, Dan and his mates now have a couple of problems: no cash, and no van to get to their gigs.

Danny, Daz and Rusty curtail their blame-shifting and bickering long enough to pay a visit to a local snitch who informs them that their van is being held by a local debt collector who works for Southern gangster Metcalf (real-life one-time East End crook Dave Courtney). Borrowing ill-fitting masks from their dodgy pal, they visit the debt collector's premises and manage to steal their van back while the bloke in question is receiving a blowjob from his secretary.

Unfortunately, they see fit to rob from the office safe while they're there. A very unwise move, given that the paperwork taken ultimately belongs to gangster Metcalf.

When Metcalf comes looking for his goods and gives Danny a deadline for returning the missing "deeds" to him, the youngster frets along with his mates ... because they've lost the papers.

A chance at redemption comes from an unlikely source when Danny literally bumps into Irishman Pat (Allan Gordon), who used to train greyhounds for racing. See, Metcalf owns a premier greyhound racing course in Peterborough - and Danny reckons the gangster may see fit to a bit of competition that could ultimately write off any dispute between them. If, that is, Pat will agree to help Danny train his prize dog for the task...

SIX BEND TRAP makes good use of its regional locations, capturing the paradoxical colour and griminess of Middlesbrough in equal measures. References to the Northern town are rife: from scenes shot in Walkabout bar, to mentions of Stewart's park and a pivotal set-piece moment near the Riverside Stadium. The mainly local cast do a fair job with McCarthy's script, although even they struggle with some of his incessant colloquialisms.

Speaking of the screenplay, it is largely agreeable despite too much effort with the one-liners - most of them are of the old and corny variety (and just wait until you hear the clich�d Cockney patter that Courtney's character has been saddled with). However, there are laughs to be had and the young characters in particular shine through in three dimensions as the film progresses.

Although it's relatively fast-moving, there's no denying that SIX BEND TRAP does possess some flab. It is, after all, 135 minutes long! Having said that, the fine balance between comedy and drama is handled quite well - I can see where the online comparisons to THE FULL MONTY have stemmed from - and the overall impression I came away with was one of having been entertained.

So, some acting and script shortcomings aside, along with a need to be trimmed down a tad, SIX BEND TRAP actually emerges as an enjoyable, sincere and stylish addition to Britain's burgeoning comedy-crime genre. With minor gore, muscular direction and even a midget baddie among its cast, it's surely worth a watch.

Shot on HD, the film looks good on this screener DVD. Presented in 16x9 widescreen, colours are strong and images are predictable sharp. Blacks remain solid while digital noise never bothers.

English audio is proffered in a keenly balanced, well-rounded 5.1 track.

Due out on DVD courtesy of 4 Digital Media, the film is presented ably in terms of video and audio. There are no menus or extras on the screener disc so I'm unable to vouch for final disc specifications.

SIX BEND TRAP is perhaps not a cult classic in waiting as some eager online comments have suggested. But it is fun and stylish, and - along with THE TOURAMENT - deserves mention for putting Middlesbrough on the map film-wise.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by 4 Digital
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review