Some of these films have fared better than others; ILL MANORS, SHIFTY and THE FOOTBALL FACTORY are ranked in the upper echelons, as well as Menhaj Huda's 2006 film KIDULTHOOD, a neo-realist take on the lives of west London 15 year olds over the course of one day. Penned by Noel Clarke, it was successful enough to warrant a sequel, ADULTHOOD in 2008, this time written and directed by Clarke himself, a continuation of the lives of the first films characters while they try and make amends for their past transgressions.
So now, 9 years later, comes the final instalment of the 'HOOD' trilogy, BROTHERHOOD, penned and directed by Clarke once again, following his creation Sam as he moves into handling the responsibilities and pressures that come with moving on from a troublesome past while trying to protect and provide for his young family.
When Sam's brother, an up-and-coming soul singer in London is shot, it drags Sam back into the life he's tried so hard to evolve from. Trouble is, the streets have also evolved since Sam's time; new faces, new lingo, new antagonists. Now Sam has to dig deep to find his dark core and find out who tried to have his brother killed.
One of the most appealing things about The Hood trilogy is the fact we have grown up with the characters over the last dozen years. Almost in real time, no less, we watch Sam grow as he navigates one tragedy after another. While KIDULTHOOD and ADULTHOOD were grim expeditions into London youth's problems, BROTHERHOOD balances a razor edge of grim drama and black comedy and it doesn't always come off well.
Antagonists Daley and Uncle Curtis (the latter returning from the first instalment) are either caricatures or misjudged, cracking wise and undermining a good deal of solid drama efforts by Clarke and crew or, in Curtis' case, feeling like they've stumbled in from another film entirely. That being said this is Clarke's show and the familiar territory doesn't pose too much of a challenge for him. They've always been good, solid films without ever dipping their toes into greatness.
As writer, director and star, he juggles his duties with confidence, never allowing that confidence to get the better of him, nor letting the 'bigger, badder, better' sequel-trap get the better of him.
It's a shame that this is the final instalment of the series. Whenever a new chapter lands it's like catching up with old friends and hoping they've grown up a bit and evolved. It's nice to see them learning lessons the hard way, even if sometimes it becomes a bit fanciful. Here's hoping Clarke's next film as writer-director ups the ante, taking the lessons he's learned from The Hood and making something truly great.
BROTHERHOOD IS RELEASED ON DVD ON 20/12/2017
THROUGH EAGLE ENTERTAINMENT.