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20th Century Fox presents
Romper Stomper (1992)

"I am going to tell you something and I want you to listen carefully. This is not your country!!!"
- Hando (Russell Crowe)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: December 11, 2000

Stars: Russell Crowe
Other Stars: Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Alex Scott
Director: Geoffrey Wright

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language, and numerous scenes of hate crimes)
Run Time: 01h:32m:36s
Release Date: November 21, 2000
UPC: 024543011026
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- BA-B+ B+

DVD Review

I have always defined racism as a form of ignorance. There is no excuse for it, and only the stupid tend toward it. For reasons beyond our control, it does exist, even today in this so-called "age of tolerance". It is to the point that it is becoming more and more difficult to pick up a newspaper, turn on the television, or even watch a movie without this horrible problem being brought to the fore. While many herald American History X as the best and hardest hitting film about racism to show up in the past decade, there can be a strong case made for Romper Stomper.

When three Nazi skinheads in Melbourne take out their aggression on the local Vietnamese people, whom they see as threatening racial harmony, things seem to go for the worse. But the Vietnamese have had enough and confront the skinheads in an all-out brawl, sending the skinheads running. Hando (Crowe), Davey (Pollock), and Gabe (McKenzie) must then go on the run, causing infighting, and ultimately more violence.

About two weeks ago I wrote in my review of David Fincher's Seven that his film hit hard and never apologized for it. After watching Romper Stomper, I can now say that if Seven hit hard, then this film takes a sledgehammer to the viewer. Even at a short 90 minutes, the film may be a hard watch for most. In fact, two of the friends that joined me to watch it got up and walked out. Not because the film was bad, but because it was so brutally unforgiving.

That is not to say that director Geoffrey Wright doesn't intentionally make things seem that way. Shot with low-grade film stock, and with dark and bluish tones setting the mood, Romper Stomper looks as dark as the lives of its characters. Wright, who has yet to make a large splash in America, does a fine job in only his second film.

When talking about the cast it is hard to not mention that Romper Stomper was the first major film role for Australian-born Russell Crowe. It is likely that this film will receive new life thanks to Crowe's recent American success as it still ranks as one of his best performances. Crowe plays Hando with such coolness that he makes you want to root for Hando even though he is doing something horribly wrong. Crowe has the same kind of presence on screen that many of the great actors of the 40s and 50s had. Performances by Pollock (who died shortly after the completion of this film) and McKenzie are also worthy of praise.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented with an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer, this is an excellent job done by Fox. Moments of slight grain and some edge enhancement were noticeable, but it is most likely the directors intent. Sharpness and detail are spot on, as are the colors, especially the frequent uses of blue. Black levels and fleshtones are perfect, and there were no moments of pixelation evident.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Before I put this disc in I found myself thinking, actually wondering, why there was a Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as a DTS track on this disc. My suspicions were quickly put to rest when I listened to each one: each has an aggressive use of not only the surround channels, but also the front soundstage. Dialogue is easily heard in both mixes, and the .1 LFE channel provides good, solid bass. The DTS mix is a bit better in terms of directionality and clarity, but the Dolby Digital mix is nothing to scoff at. An English 2.0 track is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Geoffrey Wright
Packaging: other
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
  2. Interviews with the cast and crew
  3. Film Restoration study
Extras Review: Released as a two disc set, Romper Stomper features an ample amount of extras. The first disc contains only the main feature as well as a commentary track by director Geoffrey Wright. This track is informative, and there is a lot of information offered up, not only about the production of the film, but influences that other films had on it. Wright does tend to pause for a few moments during the track, but never enough to become a problem.

The second disc contains a Reviews section that focuses on three pieces from American publications. Biographies feature bios of the cast and selected members of the crew.

Perhaps the most interesting special features on this disc are the various interviews with the cast and crew. Crowe, Wright and other members of the production cover everything from Skinheads and their following, to the production of the movie. For those of you thinking that these are recent interviews, they are not. Each has a 1992 date on them, so no post Gladiator interviews with Russell for all you fans out there. A Facts and Photos section is also provided.

A Film Restoration study is shown, and while not as informative as the same study shown on Seven, it is still worth a look. Colors are brightened, and the fleshtones and detail are redone to make this transfer what it is. Very interesting.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Romper Stomper is a good film. The subject matter makes it a tough film to watch repeatedly, but if you can find it in a rental store give it a look. The transfer and supplements make it hard to pass up if you are a fan of the film.


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