Romper Stomper (1992)

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Released 1-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Geoffrey Wright (Director)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Geoffrey Wright,Russell Crowe, Jacqueline McKenzie, Tony Lee
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Easter Egg
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 89:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Geoffrey Wright
Studio
Distributor
Seon Films
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Russell Crowe
Daniel Pollock
Jacqueline McKenzie
Alex Scott
Leigh Russell
Daniel Wyllie
James McKenna
Tony Lee
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music John Clifford White


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    After a very, very long wait, one of Australia's best, and most controversial films, Romper Stomper, has finally arrived in R4 on DVD.

    Written and directed by Geoffrey Wright, Romper Stomper is an urban and gritty working class epic. Indeed, Wright noted that in regard to Aussie films, Romper Stomper "spat in the face of expectation". I agree. To date, the best Australian films have featured sentimental themes that revolve around horses or World War I, countless rural period dramas ramming the myth of bush Australia down our throats.

    However, like that other great Aussie classic, Mad Max, Romper Stomper dared to feature two things missing from most Aussie films -- sex and violence. Filled with striking visual imagery, and often shot with a handheld camera in a cinema verite style, the film is peppered with graphic (and adrenaline pumping) depictions of sex and violence.

    Now considered a cult film, Romper Stomper polarised audiences with its ugly and confronting story. Emotional, engaging, and stimulating, Romper Stomper is a movie that refuses to be ignored, and as a viewer, it is impossible to be ambivalent. For example, many years ago I watched the SBS Movie Show religiously. While Margaret and David often disagreed, their classic clash was over this film. From memory Margaret awarded it 5 stars, but David zero.

    "We came to wreck everything and ruin your life. God sent us."

    Accused of being "dangerous and corrupting", Romper Stomper tells the story of a disintegrating gang of skin-heads. Set in the western suburbs of Melbourne, a group of uneducated, disaffected, and futile youths find a surrogate family in a neo-fascist group. This gang clashes with mainstream society and targets particular sub-cultures, such as the Australian Vietnamese community. However, at the centre of this story is a bitter love triangle: The gang leader, the brutish Hando (Russell Crowe), adopts a young, homeless junkie, Gabe (Jacqueline McKenzie), as his girlfriend. However, the gang's 2IC, Davey (Daniel Pollock), begins to have genuine feelings toward her, and soon Gabe and Davey are both having second thoughts about their lifestyle. Meanwhile, the gang's violent past is beginning to catch up with them.

    Wright spent eighteen months researching this film, and his attention to detail is obvious -- it's evident in the Oi music, the bleak sets, and the skin-head costumes. Having spent a lot of time with members of various neo-Nazi skin-head gangs, Wright began to piece together a searching light into their pathetic and hateful existence. This is a brilliantly well-composed and balanced script, which was accused of being sympathetic toward the skin-heads, and even of being amoral. However, the strength of the script, and the film, is that there are no cardboard cut-out characters here, and no stock villains. As Wright remarked in an interview, "There's something to like about everyone, for example, Adolf Hitler really loved and cared for dogs". While the skin-heads are shown to be ugly and extreme racists, they are still portrayed as human beings, and we see an insight into what led them to this futile rage, and a lifestyle of hatred.

    In 1992 Romper Stomper picked up three AFI Awards, including one for Best Actor (Russell Crowe). In many ways, this movie was Crowe's Hollywood breakthrough. For example, it's well known now that director Ridley Scott picked Crowe for Gladiator on the strength of this film. However, Crowe is not alone in providing a memorable and gripping performance, as he is joined by the very talented Jacqueline McKenzie, who makes her film debut here in a very daring and challenging role. Also present is the very intense Daniel Pollock, who sadly ended his life just prior to the film's release.

    In closing, fans will notice that a few minor changes have been made to the theatrical (and video) version. For example, when Bubs is shot in the head, his wounds have been 'touched up' digitally for this DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Romper Stomper was shot on Super 16mm film, and blown up to a 35mm print. The transfer is sadly limited by the slightly dated source material, which is a little grainy at times.

    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is reasonable overall, but it is soft at times. The shadow detail is often lacking, for example at 25:47. It should be noted, however, that the film intentionally has a very high contrast set in the image.

    The colour is muted, with an intentional blue tint.

    There are no obvious problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Small film artefacts appear throughout, but the source print was surprisingly clean for its age. There was some mild edge enhancement at times, such as at 78:40.

    Only English subtitles are present on the DVD, and they are accurate to the spoken word.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 62:18. It is noticeable, but not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    In 1992, this movie won Best Achievement in Sound at the AFI Awards. While the overall quality of the sound is good, I did notice some audio drop outs and some inconsistency with the surround presence.

    There are only two audio options: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps), and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320 kbps) for the Audio Commentary.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The brilliantly atmospheric, ominous and eerie musical score is credited to John Clifford White, who won an AFI Award for Best Original Music. The score is also augmented with some Oi tunes, such as Pulling On The Boots. I have to admit that I liked some of these infectious and manic skin-head tunes a little too much, and bought the soundtrack when it was first released (the lyrics are ugly but I like the beat).

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo-Surround, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains some of its original Stereo-Surround feel. In regards to the surround presence and activity, the movie is a little dated. Indeed, Wright describes the soundtrack as "primitive" in his audio commentary. That said, the surround presence is mostly good, but a little erratic. For example, at times the rears are used very well, such as  in creating the pub ambience at 7:26, then at other times, the surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, and almost collapses into the centre speaker.

    The subwoofer is utilized well to support both the score and the sound effects, such as the deep groaning effect at 11:35.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a few genuine extras.

Menu

    An animated menu with music.

Theatrical Trailer (2:56)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Audio Commentary

    Former film critic Geoffrey Wright wrote and directed this film. He is very literate, and he provides a fascinating commentary that covers both the making of the film, as well as its intention. Wright is also joined by some other key people who worked on the film, as they reflect on this movie ten years later.

Interviews

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, these are a collection of short interview snippets for the 1992 theatrical release, with Geoffrey Wright, Russell Crowe, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Tony Lee.

Photo Gallery

    31 photographic stills.

Cast and Crew Biographies

    Text bios for actors Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Tony Lee, producers Daniel Schart and Ian Pringle, and DOP Ron Hagen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Romper Stomper was released on DVD in Region 1, as a two disc Collector's Edition, way back in 2000.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Sadly, once again R4 consumers have been shafted. I assume the superior dts track was dropped so that the second disc of extras that is available with the R1 edition could be crammed onto our one disc.

Summary

    Romper Stomper is an emotionally draining and unforgettable movie. If you're not too squeamish, it is well worth experiencing.

    The video quality is slightly disappointing but still very watchable.

    The audio quality is good, albeit a little dated and front-heavy.

    The extras are genuine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Define "Touched Up"... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!) REPLY POSTED
DTS and Extras - Daria Nicolodi's Fringe REPLY POSTED
Russell's Hollywood Stepping Stone - Bardfin (read my bio) REPLY POSTED