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Mean Machine (2001)
Director: Barry Skolnick
Cast:
Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Danny Dyer, David Kelly, David Hemmings, Robbie Gee,
Vas Blackwood
Length:
tbc minutes
Release:
26th December 2001
15 cert camera
Vinne jones stars in  Mean Machine
Vinnie gets ready to pitch in during "Mean Machine".
If Hollywood gave an Oscar for barefaced cheek, first-time director Barry Skolnick would beat allcomers.
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Mean Machine 1974

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Not only does he remake Robert Aldrich's classic American prison film "The Mean Machine"
(aka "The Longest Yard") as a British comedy, but he puts Vinnie Jones in the lead role and dumbs down Aldrich's satire into a cross between Porridge and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels".

Danny Meehan (Jones) is an ex-England footballer whose dodgy past - taking a bung to throw a national game - comes back to haunt him when he's sent down for a stretch behind bars. The prison warden forces him to set up a game of football between the inmates and the guards, with Vinnie having to convince his fellow convicts that he's not going to sell them out.

As remakes go, "Mean Machine" is something of a smash and grab raid on Aldrich's cult classic. Shamelessly lifting all the best lines from the original, excising the political commentary and playing up the violent comedy, this new version gives a two-fingered salute to all notions of cinematic respect, trampling over Aldrich's masterpiece like a squad of elephants in football boots.

Fortunately, it keeps its tongue welded firmly in its cheek. The scriptwriters have enough sense to replay every funny moment from the original, while also adding a couple of innovations of their own. The final soccer game is definitely the high point of the proceedings, if only because it lets the star do what he does best - play some very dirty football.

It's guaranteed to make you laugh... but whether that's at it or with it is a matter of taste.

"Mean Machine" opens in UK cinemas on Wednesday 26th December 2001.

Reviewed by Jamie Russell, BBC Films.

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