Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Since this week we’re talking about Brick Top, this is your spoiler warning for the 2000 movie, Snatch.
‘Ello me ol’ China, an’ welcome ter anuvver Cinema’s Ultimate Berks, da weekly column what takes an in depf butcher’s at da biggest berks from classic movies. Guy Ritchie’s Snatch is mostly remembered fer Brad Pitt’s incompre’nsible turn as a gypsy bare knuckle boxer, but everyone knows it’s really da cockney gangster Brick Top what steals da show in every scene ‘e’s in. ‘E’s scary, viol’nt, roofless, an’ o’caaahrse, a massive berk. Phew. That’s quite enough of that. I briefly considered doing the entire thing like I was from Sarf Lahndan this week, but it turns out that typing like a cockney is a far more arduous a process than I ever imagined it would be. Frankly, I don’t know how they do it.
Brick Top is a relentlessly entertaining baddie. I don’t know what it is about the guy that I love so much, despite the fact that he’s quite obviously an abhorrent human being. Perhaps it’s his endless stream of highly quotable musings on everything from the best way to dispose of a dead body to the true meaning of the word ‘nemesis’. Maybe it’s just his big ass comedy glasses. For whatever reason, Brick Top amuses me but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see that he’s a huge jerk. Actually, that’s probably why I like him.
Brick Top is an illegal boxing promoter, illegal bookmaker, illegal, well, everything really. He’s a gangster, surrounded by sycophantic yes men that don’t dare cross him because they know what’ll happen if they do; they’ll get zapped by a taser, have a plastic bag slapped over their head until they suffocate, and then their carcass will be fed to starving pigs to get rid of the evidence. Brick Top has absolutely no qualms about bumping people off, even people who try to help him, on occasion. He’s not somebody that you really want to be involved with under any circumstances, but he’s also the big name in town when it comes to illegal, underground boxing, and so when fledgling boxing promoter Turkish finds a top notch Gypsy bare knuckle prize fighter named Mickey, Brick Top needs to be dealt with to get their careers on the go.
Unfortunately, Brick Top isn’t a particularly trustworthy individual. It turns out that his underground boxing matches aren’t just illegal – they’re also fixed, with Brick Top letting a selection of his most loyal associates know the outcomes of the bouts in advance so they can all make some big money via his illegal gambling racket. Honestly, there’s an awful lot of illegality going on. Anyway, that’s great and all, and hey, let me tell you, if I was a boxer I’d have absolutely zero issue with taking a dive for the almighty dollar, but that’s me, not Turkish’s gypsy champion who, sadly, doesn’t like the idea very much. The gypsy refuses to take a dive. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. He goes into the ring under the pretence that he’s going to take a dive, then doesn’t, and knocks his opponent clean out, costing Brick Top and his buddies an awful lot of coin.
Brick Top is somewhat understandably a mite vexed by the gypsy’s reluctance to take a fall in the manner agreed upon before the fight, and so in an effort to coerce him into doing the right thing, he has his minions burn down the camp where the gypsies all live, including the caravan housing Mickey’s mum, who tragically, is in it at the time. As if burning down a gypsy camp wasn’t quite bad enough, when Mickey rocks up to the next fight still three sheets to the wind after his mum’s wake, Brick Top decides to give him a little pep talk, reminding him about all of his recently deceased friends and family, that includes motivational phrases like, “There’s a camp full of pikeys that might not think you’re so funny, not when they’re putting out the flames on their children’s backs.” Go get ’em, tiger, I guess.
Jerk-off Quote: “Listen, you fucking fringe, if I throw a dog a bone, I don’t want to know if it tastes good or not. You stop me again whilst I’m walking, and I’ll cut your fucking Jacobs off.” – Brick Top reprimanding a boxing fan who tried to talk to him by threatening him with castration. You see, Jacobs is cockney rhyming slang. Jacobs are a manufacturer of crackers in England – crackers as in the sort of thing you’d put cheese on, not the things you’d put marshmallow between in America. Anyway, Jacobs Crackers rhymes with knackers, which is British slang for… you know what, this explanation isn’t worth the effort. Don’t worry about it. Just accept it’s not a very nice thing to say.
Comeuppance: It was perhaps a little naive of Brick Top to think that he could convince a gypsy boxer to do his bidding after burning down the camp that he lives in and murdering his mother in the process, but maybe he was just feeling hubristic since nobody dares to cross him, generally speaking. Regardless, Mickey is supposed to take another dive in another fight, and again, he doesn’t. When Brick Top comes to confront him, it turns out that Mickey’s surviving gypsy friends have killed Brick Top’s henchmen, took their guns, and are laying in wait to ice Brick Top in revenge for the aforementioned murder of Mickey’s mum. And so Brick Top’s reign over the London criminal underworld comes to an undignified end, via the medium of shotgun to the face. And no, I still have no idea why he’s called Brick Top.
Jerk-off Rating: He doesn’t have sugar in his tea because he thinks he’s sweet enough.
Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks. And if you’ve not quite had your fill of cinematic jerk-offs, check out #5 Ed Rooney (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), #19 Byron Hadley (The Shawshank Redemption), or #14 The Concierge (Home Alone 2: Lost In New York).