22 November 2019 16:38

Netflix Ashley Walters Drake

Rapman on Blue Story: ‘Kids in gangs aren’t spawns of Satan’

This carefully told morality story about life in the shadow of gang violence in south-east London is a strong debut for Andrew Onwubolu, AKA Rapman This much-hyped inner-city drama – the debut of Rapman, AKA Andrew Onwubolu, whose web series, Shiro's Story, reached 10m hits – is an assured and capably performed morality play. Rapman: the London film-maker who gatecrashed Hollywood in style Read more Tackling a vicious outbreak of gang violence on the border separating Peckham and Lewisham in London, Onwubolu ports across many of the elements that made his online endeavours such a success – chiefly a sure feel for the south-east London streets and his own rapped on-camera narration. This last element is where Blue Story is most innovative, elevating a stock melodrama – centred on childhood pals Tim and Marco (Stephen Odubola and Micheal Ward), set in fatal conflict by their older brothers' affiliations – into exhilaratingly musical territory. A "three years later" card placed at the halfway mark allows for closer scrutiny of the consequences of street violence, whereupon Odubola – pick of the film's promising new faces – reinvents likable Tim as a brooding avenger. If there's a limitation, it may be in a modesty of means and spirit you might not expect from a film-maker newly signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label – it's a headscrambler to see a Paramount Pictures production with scenes that take place outside a Greggs.

But this is true to the way Onwubolu avoids the usual flash and posturing in favour of a careful, rooted storytelling, finding subtly different perspectives on gang life, and offering his characters as many ways out as there are ways in. • Blue Story opens in UK cinemas on 22 November. Blue Story | Movie review Movie and show review Ezelle Alblas Blue Story ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Release date 22nd November 2019 Certificate Links Blue Story, the hard-hitting feature debut from writer and producer Rapman (Andrew Onwubolu), is an adaptation of his hugely successful YouTube series, Shiro's Story. This merger of rap and filmmaking focuses on violent gang rivalry on the streets of London and the surge of rising knife crime and gun attacks which often end with tragic consequences. Following the friendship between softly spoken Timmy (Stephen Odubola) and the more streetwise Marco (Micheal Ward), we watch as the boys navigate their days at school, hang out with their mates and have each others' backs when they are confronted with the rumblings of a SE postcode war between Lewisham and Peckham.

Timmy's anxious mother has moved him out of his old school to one just outside his borough, where she's hoping he'll stay away from his old unsavoury gang. Tempers are reignited when their paths cross once again and an unprovoked attack on his new school friend Marco sets off a chain of catastrophic events. Their depictions of gang life in these boroughs is as scary to watch on a screen as it must be to really live it, and Rapman is no stranger to this upbringing himself, which only serves to reflect the authenticity of this story. His intermittent rap appearances throughout the feature help move the story along, although apparently not with the intention of glorifying it. It's a harsh tale to tell, but having secured the backing for release by Paramount Pictures, this passionate new director might be paving his own unique way in a saturated film industry.

Blue Story is released nationwide on 22nd November 2019. 'Blue Story', out this Friday, is the heartbreaking tale of two lifelong friends turned against each other by London's brutal gang culture. Andrew Onwubolu – aka Rapman, who wrote and directed the film based on his experiences growing up in Lewisham – knows only too well how territorial allegiance can ruin lives. Rapman: "I remember the first time I heard about someone getting stabbed. It echoed through school for days with different accounts of what happened.

'I heard he got knifed five times,' said one person. When I was writing Blue Story, I decided to put it all down on paper. I grew up in Deptford, Lewisham, and went to school in Camberwell, which is basically in the borough of Peckham. One time, this kid wasn't happy that I got the better of him in a fight and waited outside my school with his whole group of friends. Another time, a friend and I were sat on the top deck of an empty bus when we saw a group of guys running to catch up.

We were in the Lewisham territory, but the boys who came on the bus were from Peckham. Then, one of the older boys came through and said, "Leave 'em, they look like young'uns". But now, I feel like every kid has a knife. One is to prevent the kids from picking up a knife in the first place. You could monitor everyone that gets kicked out of school or suspended – the repeat offenders doing bad things. It could turn out to be a family situation – maybe an older gang member is putting pressure on his younger brother to be like him. If it's going under the radar, it's kind of like abuse and no one knows about it. Ultimately, you need to get them early, on the school playground, because that's where it starts. Others aren't so lucky. I don't know what's going wrong with their anti-gang campaigns right now, but they could definitely do more. I don't know if I want to meet with him, but he should watch Blue Story. If they're not, it's never going to get solved." Blue Story arrives in cinemas on November 22 PICS: Special screening of the new RapMan film Blue Story at Cineworld... Well-known faces stepped out at Dublin's Cineworld for the special preview screening of Blue Story. The film tells the story of best friends Timmy and Marco, who live in different London boroughs. That's until Marco is beaten up by one of Timmy's friends, and the pair are drawn into a gang war where your postcode decides which side you're on. Rapman, real name Andrew Onwubolu, directs this British drama about the effects of gang violence in London, starring Stephen Odubola, Michael Ward and Karla-Simone Spence. Getty Images Rapman is a musician and director whose debut film, Blue Story, tells the story of friendship, love and postcode wars in south-east London. It follows the life of Timmy who lives in Lewisham but goes to school in Peckham – two areas that have a notorious rivalry. Rapman – real name Andrew Onwubolu – tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: "That part of it was based on my life – it made my school experience very difficult." The film's stars, Stephen Odubola (left) and Micheal Ward (centre) with Rapman (right) The film's message is backed up by its soundtrack, with lyrics like: "I'm not trying to justify, I just want to show you what these young boys are fighting for." Rapman says he wants the audience to see past crime statistics and headlines about knife crime, to understand how a "good kid" can lose their way. "I want people who see the film to learn that these kids are not all spawns of Satan. What kids go through in the school playground is so intense, it all starts there." He believes that more provisions should be put in place to support children who have problems at school, and mentoring should be given instead of "waiting until they're 17, feeling alone and end up picking up a weapon." The rapper-turned-film-maker's work first went viral in 2017 when his YouTube series, Shiro's Story, amassed more than 20 million hits. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Shiro's Story: The UK rap drama stacking up views The three-part drama tells the story of a character whose world is turned upside down when he gets involved in drug dealing and violence, while coping with the news his best friend is the biological dad of the daughter he thought was his. The story is told mainly through music, Rapman's bars to be specific, and it got him noticed by Jay Z, who signed Rapman to his label RocNation in 2018. After the success of Shiro's Story, the rapper was able to start creating the film script he had been sitting on for a while. He partnered with the BBC and Paramount Pictures, and Blue Story was made. "My casting director went to all the top agencies to find actors but I also wanted to use raw talent. "I put a casting call out on social media, I wanted new faces." Stephen Odubola is one of the stars of Blue Story One of those new faces was Stephen Odubola. Stephen, 23, emailed Rapman after Shiro's Story won an award, saying he would love to work with him – but got no reply. A few months later, after trying his luck at the open audition, he was cast as the protagonist in Blue Story. Stephen tells Radio 1 Newsbeat: "I walked into that audition and didn't think I would get it. Rapman at the Blue Story premiere Rapman is clear that Blue Story, which also stars Top Boy's Micheal Ward, is a film for everyone. "Mothers, kids in gangs, kids who aren't in gangs, politicians.