My Name Is Lenny

The life story of one of Britain's most notorious bare-knuckle fighters, Lenny McLean, also known as 'The Guv'nor'.


Director(s): Ron Scalpello

Writers: Paul Van Carter, Martin Askew

Starring: Josh Helman, Michael Bisping, Chanel Cresswell, John Hurt

A great biopic which gives a brief insight into the world of Lenny McLean.
Charting the highs and lows, so this may not be a film for those who are interested in the fight scenes.
Release Dates
UK: Fri 9 Jun, 2017 UK BLU-RAY/DVD: Mon 12 Jun, 2017

My Name Is Lenny film Review

My Name Is Lenny is a sport drama which deals with the darker side of unlicensed boxing in the 70s focusing on Lenny McLean (Josh Helman) and his three fights with the undisputed heavyweight champion Roy ‘Pretty Boy’ Shaw (Michael Bisping).

Although the film is based in the world of unlicensed boxing, the film goes beyond the fighting and looks back at some of the events that created the man Lenny was to become. Most notably his relationship with his violent stepfather, played by Lenny’s nephew Martin Askew, who is also one of screenwriters. Through flashbacks you get a glimpse of the violence of his childhood and the drive he had to fight his way out. The film doesn’t make excuses for some of his actions, but it does give you an insight of why it was so important to be known as ‘The Guv’Nor’.

Josh Helman does a brilliant job portraying Lenny McLean, with his voice and mannerism, but it’s during the heated moments where you can really see Lenny, with a real burning behind his eyes. In a scene, just before he fights Roy Shaw for the third time, he is approached by his father who says, “I made you who you are”, the cold piercing stare Helman gives back really embodies the anger. But it’s not all about the violence as Lenny is also portrayed with a vulnerable side, which is often understated considering his reputation. It would have been interesting if they explored this side further, although this may have distracted from the main focus of the film.

There is also a great supporting cast with Chanel Cresswell tackling an emotional role as McLean’s wife Valerie and Nick Moran as Johnny Bootnose, who helps deliver some subtle humour to the film. It also proved to be the final performance for John Hurt, who delivers once again with a brief but memorable cameo. I am sure he would have been proud of this film, ending his career on a high.

The film does well to keep a balance, considering the amount of involvement from his family in the making of the film. They don’t try to make excuses for his actions, but they don’t portray him as a monster either. They capture his wit and personality which makes him an endearing character and you can’t help but laugh during some of the fight scenes. But they also capture a darker side, a deep anger which was further fuelled by his alcoholism. From a charming caring character, he can become overbearing and bullish. The director Ron Scalpello doesn’t hold back when it comes to portraying his violent temper. The shots, although mainly off camera, are raw and bloody, with a scene where he nearly kills his cousin in a drunken rage by biting his throat off, brutally savage.

This is a great film which gives an honest insight into the man himself, based on his autobiography. It is likely to get overlooked, due to the gritty notoriety of unlicensed boxing, but the film they created delivers so much more. It’s a gripping drama at heart, with some great performances from the cast, which ensures the film continues to hit just as hard outside of the ring, as it does inside.

My Name Is Lenny is out on digital download now with a DVD & Blu Ray release on June 12.

Total Score
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There's 6 Comments. Add yours
  1. Ben

    I totally agree about the supporting cast being first class in this film, however to state that Josh Helman did a great job is a bit of an exaggeration.
    His portrayal turned a fearsome bare knuckle boxing hard man into a gurning clown with learning difficulties.
    Helman did a grand job of creating a charicature of Lenny, as resembles him closely, but what he fails to create is the genuine fear factor through visual tension and the way he spoke. In the documentary it tells of Lenny making grown men cry just from speaking. Yes, Josh shouts in the film, but where's the Tom Hardy-esq stare and explosive anger that gave Lenny his name and edge in fighting gypsies?
    Personally, I would have liked to have seen a better plot, with more brutality in his fights, rather than just comedic value. I know they say that Lenny was a funny guy and a real practical joker, but if someone got on the wrong side, you'd have been in real trouble. Perhaps the director should have read the book.
    I'd have scored the film 4/10.

    • andrew goodman In reply to Ben

      I have just watched this movie and Josh Helman does a great job of acting but its way over the top for my liking.
      In a weird kind of way he seemed to come across and seem a dead ringer for Roy Pretty Boy Shaw than Lenny McLean and had all the mannerisms , maybe he was ideal for that part instead of Michael Bisping.
      It was a shock to the system as i did not recognise John Hurt in his cameo at first but did not realise how ill he was but plays his part to perfection.
      Overall not a bad movie but as i said i think it was all a bit overacted and the scene where Lenny has a dream sequence and sings Wild Thing with all the people he has clobbered was maybe perhaps a tribute to the movie Performance (1970) and the Memo From Turner scene,
      OK Movie but needs a bigger Budget to do the story of Lenny McLean justice,
      Overall 6/10

  2. Eric

    Turned it off after a few minutes, didn't like the lead actor at all, looked totally unrealistic to me. Each to their own I guess, first time I've turned a film off. Will watch the documentary instead.

  3. Tanith Roberts

    Have to disagree -the acting is pretty poor to the point of wanting to turn it off but wanted to watch because the story line was interesting!

  4. Andy

    I must have Been watching a different film. The lead actor was beyond atrocious.gurning and squinting constantly.and doing this preposterous walk. Not the kind of respect lenny deserved. Embarassing to watch.

  5. Kenny joyce

    Disgraceful portrayal of a legend, lead actor made Lenny McLean look like a gurning moron, the rigid arms, twitching facial expressions and stupid walk, you made Lenny look like a fool, he was a hard man in a hard world and you made him look like an idiot