Director: Geoffrey Wright
Footscray Station - Melbourne, Australia
A small group of Vietnamese teenagers skateboard down a ramp into a metro station, only
to run into a considerably larger group of skinheads. Their
skateboard escapades are cut short, as the skinheads separate into groups of three and
four, each sect isolating one of the Vietnamese teens, and then proceeds to beat them
After the assault, the skinheads disappear into the darkness, as one of the teens
(still able to walk), limps around to his friends to check on their condition. After one
of the girls fail to respond to his provocation, he cries out in anguish.
The next morning, Gabe is sitting outside of her house, waiting patiently, as a voice
from inside rants and raves incomprehensibly. Finally, a car arrives, and two gentleman
step out - one being older and distinguished, the other ranging well above the six foot
mark, and built like an ox. The three enter the house, and are immediately attacked by the
source of the aforementioned
raving. The ox-like man quickly incapacitates the delirious occupant, who turns out to be
Gabe's junkie boyfriend. Then Gabe and the older man, Martin, quickly adjourn to her room,
and begin packing her things. Martin chastises Gabe for her incessant drug-taking, and her
ironic refusal to take the one drug she needs to suppress her epilepsy. Then, taking Gabe
into his arms, he asks if she has been hurt. Martin slowly caresses her face, his hand
dragging down her shoulder, eventually landing on a breast, to which she freezes up and
replies, "Can't you just be nice to me?" He replies that she's always wanted it
before, to which Gabe immediately slaps him, and he strikes back with a slap of his own.
That night, at the Railway Hotel Pub, the skinheads arrive for a night of drinking and
merriment. There, the leader of the skins, Hando, and
his second, Davey, first see Gabe. Approximately five minutes later, at a closed, indoor
strip mall, Hando and Gabe make out while the rest of the skins terrorize a homeless man.
Later, while Hando horseplays with Davey, Gabe pines for a coat in a nearby display case.
After confirming that she really wants that jacket, Hando picks up a trashcan and heaves
it through the display window. He then takes the coat, and Davey, in turn, takes a beret,
cutting his hand in the process. And again, the skinheads make off into the night.
They return home, which happens to be a dilapidated, vacant tire warehouse the skins
rent out. Much to his embarrassment, Gabe cares for Davey's wounded hand, and after
bandaging him up, she is literally swept off her feet by Hando and carried off to his room
(for a feverish night of Parcheesi, I'm sure). There, as Hando dispenses of Gabe's clothes
as fast as his fingers allow, Gabe repeatedly asks,
"Do you love me?" Which, of course, falls to deaf ears, as Hando, naturally, has
something entirely different on his mind.
The next day, they are visited by Magoo, and his affiliate group of skinheads. They
throw a big party in their honor, during which both Davey and Hando's complete attention
is on Gabe, and after Hando, once again, sweeps Gabe off into his room, the dismayed Davey
excuses himself from the festivities, and proceeds to take his frustrations out on a
The following afternoon, while playing pinball at the Railway Hotel, two of the
skinheads notice a family of Vietnamese talking to the pub's owner, closing out a business
transaction where they will assume ownership of the bar, and transform it into a
restaurant. The skins quickly make tracks back to the warehouse, and inform Hando of the
recent Vietnamese acquisition. Both Hando and Magoo's gangs quickly pile up into a car,
and make their way to the pub.
Once at the bar, it doesn't take long for a dozen-plus skinheads to detain and torture the two
Vietnamese boys. Unbeknownst to them, however, a third arrives, and realizing the plight
of this brothers, runs to a nearby factory and demands reinforcements. Not three minutes
later, a dozen or so Vietnamese arrive at the bar, and a near-riot ensues. Then, a dozen
more Vietnamese arrive, and the riot becomes a massacre. Realizing that theodds, for once,
are not 8 to 1, Hando, Davey, and the rest of the skinheads who aren't incapacitated, make
a run for it. The Vietnamese take chase, picking off one or two skins along the way. The
rest make it back to the warehouse (yeah, show them where you live - that's smart), and
begin to barricade the doors. Hando, tired from running (not to mention psychotic),
decides he's going to take his stand here. Davey and Gabe, however, beg to differ, and
convince him to continue the retreat. They head out to the roof via a secret door, and are
about to make off into the city, until Davey realizes that they left Gabe's jacket behind.
He retrieves the coat without a second to spare, as the Vietnamese finally bash their way
into the warehouse, and proceed to set it in flames.
The skinheads are quick to commandeer yet another warehouse, evicting the two previous
occupants with promises that if they return, they'll cut their legs off. That night, using
the small supply of food in the house, Gabe prepares pasta with vegetable sauce, which the skinheads, who are tired and hungry, quickly
devour (save Hando, that is, who isn't pleased with the "wop crap," and chucks
his plate against a wall). After dinner, Davey and Gabe are doing the dishes, and some
inadvertent water splashing turns into a flirtatious towel fight. The frolicking ceases,
however, when the excitement causes Gabe to fall into an epileptic fit; which comes as
surprise to the gang, particularly Hando and Davey, who were, up to that point, unaware of
her affliction. After this revelation, Hando begins to lose romantic interest.
After the minor medical crisis, the evening's conversation turns to plans of revenge
against the Vietnamese who thwarted them. The conversation goes into even more dangerous
territory, when the acquisition of guns comes into question. For guns they'll need money,
and what's a better way to get money than to rob somebody? But who should they rob? This
question is answered by Gabe, who knows exactly where the best robbery candidate lives.
So, they venture to Martin's house. Gabe charms her way into Martin's lush bachelor
pad, as the skinheads wait anxiously outside. It takes approximately one drink before he
starts to put the moves on Gabe, who then pours her beverage on his head (making it look
like an accident), and while he's away composing himself, she lets in the skinheads. After
beating Martin up, they tie him to the toilet, and begin to ransack the house. But the
discovery of Martin's wine collection slows down their progress, as the skins begin to drink themselves
belligerent. Meanwhile, while Hando and the others smash one of the foreign cars out in
the garage, Gabe confronts Martin in the bathroom. We then come to find out that Martin is
actually Gabe's father, and this is revenge for all his years of abuse. Later, in the
Master Bedroom, Gabe and Davey talk about how she wants to take Hando away from this crazy
life, perhaps go on a holiday, and take Davey along as well. Martin, in the meantime,
frees himself, retrieves a pistol hidden in the pantry, and sets out to take back what's
his. The skinheads narrowly escape with their lives, but in the process, have no chance to
retrieve any of the loot.
The next morning, the gang is disgruntled and bitter, and after a few harsh words,
Hando and Gabe are on the outs. Furious with being dumped, Gabe storms out of the
warehouse. Davey stops her, and asks if he can come along. She tells him no, there is
something she has to do. Davey then gives her the address of his grandmother, where he will be staying, and says if
she ever wants him, that's where he'll be. She leaves, and Davey leaves as well. Gabe then
proceeds to a nearby phone booth, and makes an anonymous call to the police.
After waking up to learn the water has been turned off, Hando wanders outside to look
for a spicket. Around the back of the building, he notices the cops about to infiltrate
their hideout. From the window, Hando watches helplessly as his friends are beaten and
arrested; the youngest of the bunch, Bubs, is killed in the fray.
Hando, desperate, searches out Davey at his grandmother's house. He enters the room to
find Davey in bed with Gabe. After Hando accuses her of selling them out, Davey lies and
says she was with him all night (though he doesn't know if she made the call or not).
Hando then pleads to Davey that he is all he has left. So, with Gabe in tow, they rob a convenience store for some travelling cash, and
go on the lam.
Finally, after driving all night, they stop for a break on a beach. There, Gabe
eavesdrops on the last part of a conversation between Hando and Davey, and mistakenly
interprets that they are going to leave her behind. Gabe, who obviously has a rejection
complex, sets their getaway car on fire, and openly admits to Hando about selling his
friends out to the police. Hando, in turn, attacks Gabe, and it's Davey who must choose
between his best friend, and the girl he loves.
I really enjoyed this film, particularly the acting. All the performances were
well-done and believable, especially Russell Crowe's portrayal of Hando. I expect a lot of
good things from Crowe (I'll just pretend I didn't see Virtuosity); he has a charisma many
actors today lack. That, plus he has a knack for playing a nut (see: this film and L.A.
This movie is simply brimming with energy - the chase scene, in particular. Now, I've
seen this film on several occasions, and with many different audiences, and the riot/chase
scene is always the dominant point of conversation afterwards. Insert adrenaline here.
The only real problem I have with Romper Stomper is the rather ambiguous story. It
seems like it can't decide if it's a tale centered on racial tension, or if it's a love
story. To me, it's love story, with a skinhead subplot. But at many points during the
film, it's like the movie is more concerned with the race issue, than it is the love
story. But a little over the halfway mark, the race element is unceremoniously dropped -
without any substantial resolution. Which brings forth the question, how can you have a
movie about Nazi skinheads, and yet not focus on them being Nazi skinheads? Confused yet?
I am. So, basically, the story is a little convoluted, but this is only a minor complaint.
Check it out.
The aforementioned gang fight/chase scene. I'd almost describe it as
- Listen for the scream in the background while Davey is getting his head shaved.
- Try and decipher the lyrics to the various punk songs featured in the film - this
ain't The Mommas and the Poppas.
Sentimental Magoo, who whispers sweet nothings to his girlfriend like,
"You will damn well do as your told, woman!" And his criticism of her snacking,
"I'm not going to live with no fat bitch!" Who says romance is dead?
- The moving scene where Hando and Gabe are getting to know one another. Gabe starts by
describing how beautiful her Mom was, but her train of thought digresses into how her
Mom's head was lopped off in a car accident - all the while, she maintains the same cheery
tone. Hando then opens up by explaining why he is an advocate for ethnic cleansing, and
then charms Gabe with readings from select passages of Mein Kempf. Isn't love beautiful?
Buy it! We love your money!
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman