“How much can three men take?”
Director: Jon Ivay
Cast: Alun ap Brinley, Geoff Bell, Peter Bowles
Synopsis: Three friends out for a weekend motorcycle ride through Wales stumble upon a marijuana field and biker gang war.
Freebird wasn’t so much released as sneaked out through its distributor’s cat flap, it seems. I’ve vague recollections of a few (mostly unflattering) reviews appearing in the British press before the film immediately vanished from the radar. It’s a shame because, with the type of budget that probably wouldn’t cover the cost of John Travolta’s hairdresser, writer/director Jon Ivay — who also appears in the film — manages to fashion what develops into quite an enjoyable trip after a bumpy first couple of reels.
Former boxer Gary Stretch plays Fred, a biker who agrees to negotiate the purchase of a consignment of dope in Wales for the Chairman (a barely recognisable Peter Bowles) and takes two mates, Tyg (Geoff Bell) and Grouch (Phil Daniels) along for the ride. The film ambles along as the trio make their way to Wales at the same time as a gang of Hells Angels intent on battling a rival gang in the area in which the dope is located. Phil Daniels overplays his hand at times — as he’s inclined to do — mugging a little too much and pulling daft faces. Gary Stretch looks good but rarely appears to be entirely comfortable with the relatively limited demands put on his acting abilities, while Geoff Bell puts in a near pitch-perfect performance as Tyg.
The film really takes off when the trio get stoned on mushrooms and venture into a small Welsh village after getting a major attack of the munchies. The scene in the little corner shop is an absolute scream in which all three play their parts perfectly, as is their adventure in the nearby pub. Describing these scenes is pointless — you really have to watch them to appreciate how funny they are. You probably also need to have been stoned at least once in your life to understand why the characters act the way they do and to appreciate how well observed this little vignette is. There can be little doubt that Ivay has been there, done it and bought numerous t-shirts.
You’ll probably either love or hate Freebird. Either way, I can see this one becoming something of a cult favourite in years to come.