BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Return with me, won’t you, to the era of Day-Glo colors and freestyle BMX styling. Give the middle finger to the humdrum reality of modern life and celebrate the culture that once WAS the shit with the release of Ozsploitation master Brian Trenchard-Smith’s BMX Bandits on glorious 1080p.
Starring a 16-year-old Nicole Kidman, this bike-centered adventure is definitely a movie for the entire family to enjoy. The adults will, obvously, enjoy it a bit more though. It is, in fact, one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films from one of his most respected directors. He sings its praises – along with Kidman’s natural performance – tirelessly with comparisons to The Goonies. And, yes, Tarantino is correct because BMX Bandits is every bit as fun as Richard Donner’s film.
It is truly a shame that more people don’t know of BMX Bandits, its Australian legacy, and the director's body of work. This kid-centered film – when held alongside Trenchard-Smith’s other notable titles (Turkey Shoot, Dead End Drive-In and Stunt Rock) – definitely holds its own and is worth revisiting.
Screenwriters Russell Hagg and Patrick Edgeworth open their crime adventure with a bank robbery in which three men in pig masks cling desperately to their shotguns and drive off with over $100,000 in other people’s money. We then shift gears (pun intended) to celebrate youth with a glorified look at the 1980’s love affair with BMX freestylin’ theatrics. P.J. (Angelo D’Angelo) and Goose (James Lugton) love their bikes and they love to do crazy shit while on them.
A few exciting stunts show us just how good they are. Full of proper jabs and dry humor, the dynamic duo easily share the screen with their red and blue bikes. All they need is a third member to complete their primary colorized gang of BMX enthusiasts.
The two boys hang out at the malt shop and ride up and down the northern coastal suburbs of Sydney on their bikes. And then along comes Judy (Kidman in her feature film debut). They get her fired from her current gig (where she is working to save up for her own yellow BMX bike) and then get her knee-deep in their own adventures selling found stuff in order to repair their own bikes and help her get hers.
Well, she gets her own bike and – as the new trio discovers a stash of police-band walkie-talkies used by the thieves – everyone gets in over their heads as The Boss (Bryan Marshall) sends his two goons, Whitey (David Argue) and Moustache (John Ley), to get them back.
What follows is a free-spirited look at the BMX culture, what it meant to be a young ‘un during the early 1980s, and one extended chase sequence after another as director Trenchard-Smith turns up the heat on the fluorescent-flavored fever dreams of a now-gone culture with an impressive display of stunts.
It’s not all bright lights, though. With a nighttime sequence in a graveyard (in which the piggy masks make a return as the goons do their best to terrify the kids), Trenchard-Smith definitely provides his audience with enough frights to balance out the lime-soaked days. But nothing beats the impressive escape via tube down the Manly Waterworks water slides that Judy, P.J., and Goose attempt.
See BMX bikes go places they shouldn’t go via cinematographer John Seale's impressive camera and POV work in BMX Bandits. It is currently (and thankfully) available on blu-ray courtesy of Severin Films.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 88 mins
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Patrick Edgeworth, Russell Hagg
Cast: David Argue, John Ley, Nicole Kidman
Genre: David Argue, John Ley, Nicole Kidman
Tagline: Thrills, chills, spills! Live the power of the... BMX Bandits
Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, you know what they say. Two's company. Three gets us talked about."
Theatrical Distributor: No U.S. theatrical release
Release Date: December 23, 1983 (Australia)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: March 15, 2011
Synopsis: Action/comedy about a cache of stolen walkie-talkies, three BMX-riding friends, and the ruthless bank robbers who will pursue them through every graveyard, shopping mall, construction site and waterpark in New South Wales, Australia. It's a high-flying ride to adventure filled with wild stunts, cool BMX outfits, creepy innuendo, cheezy synth music, an obnoxious fat kid, and gobs of fast & furious fun.
Home Video Distributor: Severin Films
Available on Blu-ray - March 15, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A, B
Severin Films proudly presents BMX Bandits on 1080p with a crisp transfer that is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio. The bright colors are vivid throughout the presentation and, honestly, they look more detailed than a lot of modern day releases. The joy that encapsulates the film is palpable in the expressive details the new transfer picks up. From Kidman’s reddish blonde frizzy curls to the crisp construction and beach-based locales, nothing is glossed over by this transfer. The single nighttime scene is also strong – as it holds its shadows deep and its edges thick. The sound is presented in a fairly dynamic – albeit limited – Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track.
Provided by Trenchard-Smith, the director discusses the making of the movie, the stunt work, and things he wishes he’d done differently with some of the scenes. Sometimes it is good to just let the director talk and that’s what this track is all about.
Released in 2010, the blu-ray features a retrospective with the cast and crew of the movie, an archival look of Kidman on an Australian television show promoting the movie and warning members of the audience to not recreate some of the stunts in the film, and a theatrical trailer.
- BMX Buddies: Featurette With Cast & Crew
- Nicole Kidman on Young Talent Time
- Theatrical Trailer