Historically innacurate but mildly entertaining
by Nav Qateel
Initially set just after WWII, Zackary Adler’s The Rise of the Krays follows London East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, as the twins rise to the top of the underworld. Feared by practically everyone who meets them, the twins appear to be unstoppable, especially after Ronnie’s open homosexuality puts him in contact with very well-connected politicians. The extremely violent Ronnie ends up in prison, where he’s eventually transferred to an asylum and found to be schizophrenic and criminally insane. Left in peace while Ronnie is serving his time, Reggie builds up the business and expands their small nightclub empire. But Ronnie’s release sees all of Reggie’s hard work going to waste, and war with the other London gangs appears to be inevitable.
This is only the first half of the two-part tale of the Krays, with the aptly titled second part The Fall of the Krays due out later in 2015. Obviously, the Tom Hardy starrer Legend, which is due out in September, has created enough of a buzz about the Kray twins to give this title a tidy little boost.
Simon Cotton makes his acting debut here playing a psychotic, domineering Ronnie Kray. The inexperienced Cotton actually handles the part compitantly, and with this over-the-top take on the character, the overacting isn’t quite as noticeable. Kevin Leslie plays brother Reggie, and again, does a decent job performing the ruthless gangster. It is a bit odd that director Zackary Adler decided to use two actors — one with blond hair and the other with dark hair — that bear absolutly no resemblance to one another, when Ron and Reg were identical twins. The 1990 film The Krays used real twins Martin and Gary Kemp, and in Legend Tom Hardy plays both brothers.
With a meagre budget of $2.5 million, Adler and his team do an admirable job of recreating Post War London, right down to the period attire and cars. As well as good set designers, the makeup and music were also there to help keep things as realistic as possible. Adler certainly demonstrates he has enough skill to easily helm a film of this scope and budget, giving us a reasonably entertaining film, if perhaps not an historically accurate one.
For anyone interested in the twins this is the last ever interview with Ronnie Kray filmed shortly before his death. This is another interview of both twins after successfully defending themselves in court.