The Hardest Man in Britain?
The Guv'nor is a documentary focusing on the colorful life of East End thug-turned-bouncer-turned-boxer-turned-actor, Lenny McLean.Hosted and narrated by his son, this documentary takes a look back at the childhood through to the last years of McLean's life, featuring plenty of clips from his reputedly 4,000+ match career as a brawler, bare-knuckle boxer and later unlicensed boxer, as well as clips from what many will more recently remember him for - his role in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which was actually released shortly after he died and is dedicated to him.Featuring a few contributions from close friends and colleagues from across the years - although, pointedly, his family almost all refuse to be filmed - the documentary attempts to be a part-inspection of the reasons for McLean's violent antics (his abusive childhood played a big part) and part-tribute to his greatest moments, although the worrying legacy (at least in terms of his son) feels a far more interesting, and thought-provoking topic that goes overlooked.
Video QualityThere's nothing inherently wrong with The Guv'nor's video presentation, which is framed in the documentary's original limited release 1.85:1 aspect ratio and which largely excels in its High Definition segments, boasting detail, clarity, natural and rich colours and strong black levels, and being almost devoid of any defects, but which jarringly juxtaposes the multitude of VHS clips from across the years.
The documentary is a mix of dirty raw footage and HD interview segments
The documentary is a mix of dirty raw footage and high definition interview segments and the former is often quite poor in quality, scratched and stretched; warped and worn, with the fight footage sometimes so blurry it'd make you think Bourne-style shaky-cam fights are surgically clear by comparison. Nevertheless, it's a necessity, and there's nothing else in the way of material to put forward, with the long decades fueled by plenty of clips that certainly make it all the more interesting.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does a solid job with the documentary material. Again, there are huge differences between the video clips and fight footage, where the sound is muffled, or sometimes simply non-existent, and the more punchy, tense score that they use for much of the rest of the duration. Dialogue remains well-prioritised and, overall, it's a good effort, although there's nothing here on offer that stands out - perhaps as you'd only expect from a documentary - with effects and LFE input at a bare minimum, but for the percussive background score.
The accompanying soundtrack does a solid job
VerdictLenny 'The Guv'nor' McLean had a worryingly glamourised life built upon hitting people for little apparent reason other than to make money off it. Later this was forged into work as a bouncer and a boxer, but that was merely a way to legitimise his predisposition to violence; the legacy of which clearly still haunts his son. This documentary attempts a part-tribute, part-exploration of the man's psyche, but offers a bookend of vague insight which would have arguably made for a far more interesting, although arguably less vanilla, expose.
Part-tribute, part-exploration of the man's psyche
Lionsgate's Blu-ray release boasts strong video (notwithstanding the VHS footage within) and solid audio, with zero extras. Those interested should consider streaming or waiting until it airs. Lenny McLean was clearly an interesting subject, but The Guv'nor's predisposition towards skirting around the core issues leaves it somewhat wanting.
You can buy The Guv'nor on Blu-ray here
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