British film, directed by Phil Davis and released by BBC Films and Parallax Pictures in 1995.
Starring Reece Dinsdale, Sean Pertwee, Warren Clarke and Saskia Reeves.
ID is the story of four police officers sent undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of football hooligans in the late Eighties. Their brief is to acquire incriminating evidence on the 'ringleaders' of the gang in order to bring the hooligan organisation to its knees.
However, the four soon find themselves deep in an enticing and exhilarating world of football violence, and a love affair with both Shadwell Town FC and the local boozer of its hooligans - The Rock. Falling in with the hardcore of Shadwell's boys, the four soon find their job compromised by personal feelings. As John (Dinsdale) replies to his sergeant Trevor's mention of the team's 'targets' - "Targets, bollocks! These are our mates!" Soon, through John's acts of 'bottle' and the four's constant willingness to mix in when it kicks off, the four are regarded amongst the 'top boys' of the firm - but while three of them are able to keep some perspective on their relationship with Shadwell and its fans, John finds himself becoming more and more a hooligan and less and less a policeman. His transformation into a violent, drug-taking, foul-mouthed animal leads to the break-up of his marriage and his relationship with the landlady of The Rock, Lynda (Reeves).
As John steadily becomes one of the hooligans he's meant to be putting behind bars, he fatally stabs a Tyneburn hooligan in the midst of a pitched battle. His colleagues cover up this crossing of the line but for John, it's too late. As the squad are recalled and their evidence used to close The Rock and put Shadwell's firm out of business, John slumps into a mire of drug addiction, self-loathing and violence. In the poignant closing scene of the film, Trevor is policing a National Front march when he sees John, head shaved and jackbooted. John tells Trevor he is on another undercover operation...but as the film closes we see John is embracing the life of a fascist thug in the same way he did that of a football hooligan...
As a realistic portrayal of football violence and the methods used to combat it in the late Eighties, ID is one of the better efforts. It still falls foul of some football clichés and anachronisms, and the fictional teams (Shadwell, Tyneburn, Wapping and Midchester) sound like something out of a Boys Own football comic, but the world that Davis creates is gritty and realistic nontheless. While Dinsdale plays the part of John with gusto, his over-the-top emotional acting is at times laughable. However, the supporting cast is nothing short of brilliant - Sean Pertwee in particular, playing Martin, the other main hooligan in the Shadwell firm. All the male characters are fleshed out and extremely realistic, and even the supposed 'villains' of the Shadwell firm are likeable sorts. The transition from action thriller to dark character study occurs rather suddenly, but the pacing of the film is great, with brilliantly-directed fight scenes followed by emotionally-draining character acting or laddish black humour.