Ardustry Home Entertainment // 2003 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 11th, 2005
They live to fight, mate.
I guess it's my ignorant ethnocentricity speaking, but when I think of dangerous, violent street wars, the milieu that jumps to mind for such hijinks is never Australia. But, judging from this independent action film, those crazy kids from down under love the smackdown as much as our home-grown gangs.
The film follows the day-to-day lives of an Australian gang that owns the streets due to the face-smashing power of its members. The gang is led by Cam (writer-director Nunzio D.G. La Bianca), a volatile street fighter who would rather crack skulls than settle down and become a contributing member of society. Cam's life involves running with his equally jumpy brother (Joe Murabito), entering street fights for money, and engaging rival gangs in back-alley brouhahas.
One night, however, Cam gets in over his head, when a by-the-books deal with some shady criminals turns into a bloodbath. Cam and his brother soon find themselves in prison and striving to come away unscathed. After they are released, Cam's gang is targeted for vengeance by the aforementioned criminals, and Cam is framed for a rape he didn't commit. All H-E-double-hockey-sticks breaks loose. Every Aussie gang within a ten-mile radius descends on Cam and company. Cue the techno music and cheapo punching sound effects!
The packaging for the disc boasts "harsh and brutal" action. Aussie Park Boyz is being peddled as an action flick, but it's more like a street saga. There's certainly lots of fighting to be had, but the focus lies on Cam and his travails as well as the blunt and unwieldy message La Bianca is trying to convey about the alienation of ethnic groups. That last part struck me as a tacked-on attempt at something "meaningful," when really this film just wants to beat the Cool Whip out of people.
The storyline is typical gangland grist: Our antagonist is targeted by some bad dudes, gets set up, and has to throw down to reclaim his reputation before eventually setting the record straight and getting even with this enemies. Unfortunately, the film takes its sweet time playing this narrative out. Much filler exists, hearkening back to the clumsy effort to add some kind of moral message to the mix. (This is not all bad, though, as it sets up some sweet fights with a handful of middle-aged Irishmen.) Thankfully, once the meat of the story is unleashed, the film picks up steam. The prison sequences are entertaining, and the gang members inside are a colorful crew; the hulk with all the facial tattoos (displayed prominently on the disc case) is a particularly bad mo-fo. The final third, which finds the Boyz on the run from all the other gangs, is the high point, and the film ends in a flurry of violence.
And how is that violence, by the way? It's not bad. While the film is far from the second coming of onscreen fisticuffs that its accolades trumpet, La Bianca does have a good eye for framing his battles. Plus, it's obvious that the actors are proficient in hand-to-hand combat, and that helps. Repetitiveness and horrible sound work mar the proceedings. Overall, though, considering the obviously shoestring budget with which Aussie Park Boyz was made, the action is more than serviceable.
The film looks okay despite the low-grade stock that was used. Ardustry has put together a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer and paired it with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that is certainly loud enough. The discrete channels aren't used as aggressively as I would have liked, and the dialogue is often difficult to discern, but when that throbbing techno kicks in, you'll feel it.
Not the adrenaline-charged super-awesome thriller the marketing touts it as being, Aussie Park Boyz is still a decent gang story. The fights are bountiful, and it's a hard R action flick. Despite some pacing and plot problems, the flick manages to be kinda cool.
The accused is to be beaten to a bloody pulp with a pipe, then released.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Ardustry Home Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R