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Ozploitation triple header: BMX Bandits, The Man from Hong Kong, and Razorback

Justin here with quick looks at 3 Australian exploitation movies I watched recently.

BMX Bandits

One fateful day, I fired up Netflix and saw that totally unexpectedly; BMX Bandits had shown up on my Watch Instant queue. I think I squealed, yelled, “fuck yes,” and texted Ben all at the same time. I’d wanted to see this for a long time. Sadly, it wasn’t very good. It’s still definitely worth watching though for how hilariously ludicrous and dated it is.

P.J, Goose, and Judy (played by a very young Nicolle Kidman) start the first act with wrecked bikes and no jobs. As luck would have it, they fish out a bunch of illegal walkie-talkies belonging to some local hoods from the ocean. After selling them, they have bikes again but also problems as the hoods seek revenge. The plot is asinine, but this is a kids movie. OK – Aussie movies are known for having incredible stunts. The real reason to watch any of these movies is the stunts, Mad Max, Stunt Rock, etc. Grant Page has balls made of titanium. However, a funny thing happened to BMX since 1983, the X Games.

I’m no extreme sports enthusiast, but when I think of BMX, I think of scraggily dudes grinding rails, half pipes, all that nonsense. The stunts in Bandits are laughably lame by comparison. I’m sure if you were a kid in the early 80’s you’d be pretty impressed. I’m sure this also sold a lot of BMX bikes.

The Man from Hong Kong

Like BMX Bandits, The Man from Hong Kong was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith.
Jimmy Wang Yu plays the eponymous man in the title. You may remember him from the stellar Master of the Flying Guillotine, where he played the one-armed boxer. In this, he has both his arms and plays a top narcotics cop who travels to Australia to fight George Lazenby.

This is a much better movie overall, but Trenchard-Smith made some odd choices all around. The title song, “Blow it all Sky High,” is a hilarious bit of mid 70’s adult contemporary pop and is played ad nauseum throughout the movie. There are two Aussie cops that Wang Yu teams up with, one looks exactly like what a cop should look like in one of these movies. The other is big, slovenly, his clothes don’t fit, he’s got long rocker hair – he looks like a chubby hipster. But he’s played completely straight. On top of that, the pacing is way too slow.

There are some awesome stunts and some decent kung fu action throughout. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun movie and one you owe it to yourself to see if you’re serious about exploitation cinema. It’s much more watchable than a lot of other exploitation movies. I can’t help but be consistently disappointed with Brian Trenchard-Smith though. His movies look incredible on paper. Something about the execution always lets me down though. The only one of his movies that I love without any reservations is Stunt Rock. Despite the promise of The Man from Hong Kong, BMX Bandits, and Dead-End Drive-In, I’m always left with blue balls.

Razorback

Razorback on the other hand is a fucking MOVIE. It totally rules. It doesn’t really pretend to be anything other than Jaws in the outback with a giant pissed off pig. Yuppie Canadian, Carl Winters has to travel to the outback to find out what happened to his girlfriend, a reporter for an animal rights group. Though the town says that she fell down a mineshaft, evidence soon comes to light that she was either killed by the razorback or a couple of creepy townies.

Director Russell Mulcahy takes the simple story and delivers an unexpected visual flair. Other than this and the first couple of Highlander movies, Mulcahy directed the awesome Duran Duran videos for “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and “Rio.” About halfway through the movie there is, no shit, one of the best psychedelic hallucination scenes put to film. There’s good use of light and scenery all around as well.

There is a super cool looking animatronic pig that looks like it could be a genuine menace. However, the real uncomfortable parts come from the two locals. The combination of the Jaws rip-off story with the scary backwoods people story works surprisingly well. Somehow, the movie manages to stay focused and build to the final showdown at a nice pace. It was a pig bomb straight to my heart.

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Ozploitation triple header: BMX Bandits, The Man from Hong Kong, and Razorback + TIME