Plot: What’s it about?
This film is based in Melbourne, Australia and focuses on one isolated area, where a lot of change has happened of late. It seems a lot of foreign people have begun to take up residence there and open shops, making the area more diverse in the process. While some might view this as a very good thing, some people in the area don’t think it is a good thing in the least. Hando (Russell Crowe) has a real problem with all the Vietnamese people taking up space in his area, but he has plans to rectify that issue as well. He and his team of fellow skinheads have taken the task of beating or killing all Vietnamese people they find, which they think will send a message to the others to leave or suffer the same fate. As they attack person after person, their hatred seems to grow and their behavior becomes more violent. But the battle isn’t going to be one-sided forever though, as the Vietnamese people begin to band together to ward off their attackers. In this brutal war between them, will anyone survive and if so, will the bloodshed ever end?
Do you like American History X, but want an even more brutal look at the topics the film explores? Then look no further, as Romper Stomper is now on our beloved format and thanks to Fox, looks and sounds better than ever. You have to love Fox and their double disc editions and while this one is lax on extras, it is still a tremendous release. This is a very dark, brutal film and that might drive some away, but the total impact of the movie is incredible. I know a lot of people praise American History X (and with good reason), but Romper Stomper is a superior film in all respects. It seems more realistic, the writing is better, the acting is better (Crowe gets a slight nod over Norton), and the direction is downright excellent. This seems almost documentary like at times, it all seems so natural and realistic, with some sequences that seems almost too real. I know the hard edge on this movie, with all the brutal violence and decayed system will offend some, but the film is well worth a look. Imagine American History X without a Hollywood spit shine and viola, you’ve got Romper Stomper. I give this film my highest recommendation and with a terrific release like this, a rental or purchase is money well spent.
Russell Crowe’s performance in Gladiator might have gotten all the press, but his prior works have been superior in the end, such as his turn in Romper Stomper. He isn’t much of a hero in this movie, but his powerful performance here is, in my opinion, his finest work. He plays Hando with a blazing mixture of charisma and confusion, which allows us to see just deep enough into the character. We can see the violence and conflict within Hando, but we can understand also why his friends remain at his side. This is a very dark role to be sure, but Crowe is able to handle it with no problems whatsoever. You can more of Russell Crowe in films such as Mystery Alaska, The Insider, The Quick and The Dead, L.A. Confidential, and Virtuosity. The rest of the cast is also very convincing and includes Alex Scott, Leigh Russell (Dust of the Wings), Daniel Pollock (Lover Boy, Nirvana Street Murder), James McKenna, and Jacqueline McKenzie (Freak Weather, Deep Blue Sea). The director of Romper Stomper is Geoffrey Wright, who also helmed such movies as Silver Surfer, Metal Skin, Loverboy, and Cherry Falls.
Video: How does it look?
Romper Stomper is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This film has a very raw visual technique, so there is a level of grain that is intentional and shouldn’t be worried about. This transfer is much better than previous editions, with no excess grain present and a very clean source print. The film’s unique color and contrast scheme is well replicated here, with just the right balance levels and tones. The colors sometime seem a little dull, but that is a style choice and the hues seem correct at all times. I was pleased with the contrast as well, detail level is high and the black levels look dead on. This movie has a very specific visual style, but this transfer comes through on all counts.
Audio: How does it sound?
Fox has includes 5.1 surround tracks in Dolby Digital and DTS formats, so whichever system you have, you’ll be provided with an excellent experience. I didn’t know active this film would be in terms of surround use, but I was very impressive with these mixes, which have the speakers working around the clock. The surrounds are loaded with material from start to finish, whether subtle, directional, or all out powerful type audio needs. I was blown away by the DTS mix here, but the Dolby Digital option also packed a mighty punch. The film’s harsh punk soundtrack sounds awesome in these mixes, which is good because it adds a lot to the movie’s tone. No gripes in terms of dialogue either, the vocals sound clean at all times and no volume flaws surface either. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track and English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The first disc contains an isolated musical score, as well as an audio commentary track with director Geoffrey Wright. This is a very informative commentary, as Wright discusses all sorts of topics, such as his influences for the film, working with the cast, and problems that surfaced during the production. No real silent spaces and plenty of insight, this is how all commentary tracks should be. The second disc houses the rest of the supplements, including a wealth of new and original interviews with the cast & crew. I didn’t like the method used to present these interviews, but I was pleased to find more insight once I watched them. A selection of still photos, the film’s theatrical trailer, some talent files, and a restoration demonstration are also located on this disc.