After a brief pre-credits bout of energetic sex with his woman Abbi (Tina Barnes), events then shift to "18 Months Later" where we see Mitchell (Nick Rendell) laid on a morgue slab with a huge hole in his torso.

Mitchell's narration then takes us back to two days prior, when his job as a debt collector for local mobster Casey (Harold Gasnier) finally caught up with him.

We follow Mitchell during the last hours of his life, as he bursts into junkie Hopper's (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) squalid apartment looking for the two thousand pounds owed to his boss. After torturing Hopper, Mitchell discovers that the has-been druggie has one hundred thousand pounds hidden in a beanbag. Mitchell steals the money and slashes Hopper's throat - but not before, unbeknownst to him, Hopper has filmed the theft on his mobile telephone.

Returning home that night with a bag full of cash and dreams of starting a new life, it's not long before things start to go awry for the brutish Mitchell ...

When Casey telephones Mitchell enquiring after his money, Mitchell tells him someone else had killed Hopper before he'd got there - and that the money had already been taken. He then proceeds to make the grave mistake of telling Casey that he now works for rival Boswell (Victor D Thorn). This doesn't go down well at all.

No matter. A jog and a shower later, and Mitchell has been picked up by loose cannon Smithy (Steve Humphries) for an escort to his first day of work with Boswell. Upon his induction meeting with Boswell, Mitchell is invited to watch the violent execution of old pal Smithy - castrated for stealing from Boswell's kitty.

Boswell then tells Mitchell he's Smithy's replacement - and his first job is to retrieve one hundred thousand pounds that Hopper stole from him. Oh, shit!

Mitchell has no alternative but to accept the task ... and is partnered with the psychotic Chisel (Christopher Fosh) on a mission to find the missing money.

When they find Hopper dead, naturally, they turn their attentions to his hapless wife Suzy (Helena Martin). But when Chisel begins to reveal how he earned his name during a typically nasty torture sequence, Mitchell grows a conscience and gains Suzy as an ally - and a whole shitload of trouble on his back as a result.

Cue the vicious Noodles (Forbes KB) and his "toys", commissioned by an irate Boswell to track Mitchell down ...

A DAY OF VIOLENCE is a tightly edited, briskly paced ride through one man's descent into Hell. It's a well lit, attractively shot yarn that's peppered with quirky characters, bullet-speedy dialogue and insane acts of ultra-gory action. Even better, the descent into Hell becomes a journey into redemption - a cliché, perhaps, but one that works extremely well and makes for a wholly satisfying dramatic arc.

Beyond these obvious fan-pleasing elements, it should also be noted that A DAY OF VIOLENCE is also a hugely considered piece of filmmaking. The camerawork throughout is carefully planned in terms of positioning and composition, and as a result almost every scene is visually exciting. I was particularly impressed by the excellent continuity - you usually have to overlook its absence in this type of film.

Shot on location around Southampton, writer-director Darren Ward (SUDDEN FURY) makes great use of locations, offering a healthy balance of attractive exterior photography and highly atmospheric interiors that accentuate a world of squalor and moral decay.

From a storytelling perspective, the film covers little new ground but succeeds in compelling the viewer by virtue of the aforementioned slick pacing and sharp, driven dialogue. Punctuated by endless exhibitions of gross masculinity, the film is a remarkably aggressive tirade of violence and obscenities ... which makes for an ugly but slick and efficient race through one set piece after another.

A DAY OF VIOLENCE never shies away from the conventions of the UK gangster genre, but thankfully remains a million miles away from the hollow shite of Guy Ritchie's films by wisely avoiding attempts at lame comedy or Mockney cool. Instead, this a bleak, grim stare into an all the more realistic violent underbelly of this country's organised crime syndicates.

The action is aided immeasurably by Dave Andrews' pulsing electronic score. It's extremely sombre for the most part, perhaps heavy-handedly so, but undeniably helps in cranking up the tension from the offset.

Performances are better than average throughout, with Rendell succeeding in the difficult task of making us feel for his fundamentally grotesque character. At the film's opening when his narration begins, I feared that his was going to be a character every bit as annoying as Danny Dyer's in THE BUSINESS. But no such worries: Rendell works best when exhibiting fear and anxiety - which he gets to do a lot as the action progresses.

Fair enough, characters like Boswell, Casey and henchman Chisel are two-dimensional stereotypes. But their dialogue is so incessantly profane, their actions so unrelentingly brutal, that you can't help but love them regardless. The cast must uniformly be congratulated for giving so energetically to the script. And, of course, it's always a pleasure to see Radice in a new role.

The real star of this show is Ward's unflinching depiction of truly stomach churning violence, complemented by stunning gore effects supervised by Alastair Vardy (a veteran of TV shows such as "Holby City" and "A Touch of Frost"). Throats are slashed, cocks are hacked off, bullets are torn into bodies, teeth are extracted, and power tools are employed to devastating effect. It's a messy business, and the blood runs in rivers of red throughout A DAY OF VIOLENCE. Ward's love of the gore is Fulci-style, wallowing unapologetically in the nastiness.

Is A DAY OF VIOLENCE a violent masturbatory fantasy, a vile ode to testosterone gone savagely ugly? It's highly probable that it is. But there is a talent at work here, along with a pitch-black strain of subtle humour running throughout, that elevates the film into being a highly entertaining slice of aesthetically pleasing, gripping trash cinema.

Much like it's predecessor SUDDEN FURY but better made in every respect, A DAY OF VIOLENCE is a clear ancestor of Lucio Fulci's CONTRABAND. It's a horror film, masquerading within the gangster genre. Or vice versa - take your pick.

This screener disc presented A DAY OF VIOLENCE in anamorphic 1.85:1. The picture and 2.0 English audio were both great, suggesting that when this superbly entertaining film gets a DVD release, it's going to be a very impressive one indeed.

Derivative, at times far-fetched and nonsensical, grim and populated by despicable characters: A DAY OF VIOLENCE echoes Italian exploitation films of yesteryear remarkably well (check out even the lovely retro-style poster artwork at www.giallofilms.com), while convincingly translating the action to modern-day England.

The final twenty minutes may prove to be too downbeat for some, with a grittiness that times echoes LONDON TO BRIGHTON, but they are also insanely riveting. And, of course, gory as fuck.

A cult following surely awaits this engaging, accomplished bloodfest upon its commercial release. And writer-director Darren Ward should one day be a very big name indeed ... if the mainstream can ever handle his blend of slick action filmmaking and bursts of staggering, off-the-Richter-scale brutality.

For more info on this must-see film, visit the official site here.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Giallo Films
Not Yet Rated