Guy Ritchie’s feature directorial debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels takes viewers on a veritable tour of East London, with scenes shot in Bethnal Green, Borough, Shoreditch, Bow and Clerkenwell, among others.
Featuring famous landmarks such as the Southwark Bridge on the River Thames (this stretch of the river also takes in London Bridge and Tower Bridge), Borough Market and the Columbia Road Flower Market, the film captures the unique flavour of this area of London.
The fashionable Borough Market has featured in numerous films throughout the past decade following its renaissance as a retail market; now it’s London’s most renowned fresh food market (open Thursdays to Saturdays). This South East London market sprawls around a maze or labyrinth of streets beneath the railway viaducts between the Thames and Borough High Street.
Top chefs, restaurateurs and members of the public alike mingle to explore, taste, ask questions and generally take advantage of the wide and diverse culinary expertise on offer. The market’s busiest day is a Saturday. Parking is extremely limited but there are plenty of buses, trains and tubes to Borough or nearby London Bridge.
Less than three miles away, Bethnal Green – the home of the gangster Kray twins in the 1940s – boasts London’s own curry mile in Brick Lane. As well as the spicy food on offer, the Brick Lane market, near Spitalfields, is a bustling, hectic Sunday market where you are just as likely to find a great art deco piece of furniture as you are a piece of junk.
Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels works hard to conjure and retain the true East End feel; it even goes as far as subtitling one of its scenes in Cockney Rhyming Slang. Starring Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham alongside Vinnie Jones and Sting, it tells of four east London lads trying to make fast money in an illegal card game. When things go wrong and they end up owing £500,000 to a gangster, they are forced to carry out a heist that doesn’t quite go according to plan.
The good news for London aficionados and tourists alike is that the setting of the film plays as much a part in it as the stars themselves.
An historic part of London, the East End has a distinctly individual personality to the more affluent West End, the hard-working excess of the City or the yummy mummy reputation of the South. If the East End were a woman, she would probably be best described as earthy and feisty.