Severin Films // 1983 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 25th, 2011
A high flying ride to adventure.
Nicole Kidman's feature film debut combines the exotic locales of New South Wales with the color palette of an inside-out caribou.
For PJ and Goose, life is BMX. Decked out in their color-coded outfits, the duo tear up the asphalt with their bitchin' wheels, popping wheelies, bustin' down stairways, leaping cars, and generally being gnarly. Their dream is to open a BMX dirt track, but because they are penniless bicycling vagabonds, that vision is out of reach.
Then they stumble upon a hidden cache of walkie-talkies and begin selling this cutting-edge USA technology to their backward yahoo friends. Even more exciting: they've teamed up with the fetching Judy (Kidman), who can ride a BMX with the best of 'em and sends their adolescent hormones into a tailspin.
Meanwhile, some hapless criminals are perturbed their awesome walkie-talkies have been stolen, so they chase these kids around in their giant car. Luckily, the BMX Bandits don't have enough sense to stay off the roads, so strap yourself in for 45 minutes of futility!
There's a quote from Quentin Tarantino on the disc cover: "If we'd grown up in Australia, BMX Bandits would have been our version of The Goonies."
At first, I scoffed at that. BMX Bandits is ridiculous! Inept criminals spend the entire movie chasing kids around! The clothing is ugly! That girl's hairdo is the size of Toronto! The music is atrocious! The...wait a minute.
Yes, at that moment it dawned on me that The Goonies, the Cinematic Holy Grail of my childhood, was just as incoherent and goofy. That's the way it was in the '80s for kids' adventure-comedies; nothing made sense and watching them now would yield a mixture of embarrassment and derisive laughter.
So come on everyone, let's come together in that corny '80s hand-holding global awareness way and embrace the lunacy of BMX Bandits, just as we celebrated crap like D.A.R.Y.L. and Mac and Me.
Good on Severin for putting the effort into bringing this to Blu-ray. I genuinely think kids will get a kick out of the hijinks here (proving they can navigate the Aussie vernacular) and you, jaded dickhead adult, will greatly enjoy pointing and laughing at teenage Nicole Kidman's stunt double who is so obviously an adult male.
Director Brian Trenchard-Smith -- he of the legendary Stunt Rock -- knows what his audience wants and he delivers. That is, of course, awesomely awesome bike stunts. As such, virtually the entire second half of the movie is devoted to an extended chase scene. The only break in the action comes when Judy gets herself kidnapped, kicking off yet another extended chase scene, culminating in a legitimately cool truck-commandeering stunt and a legitimately cheesy bubble-foam fight. Bodacious eye-candy for two-wheel-aficionados everywhere!
Severin's foray into HD is welcome and they do a fine job with BMX Bandits. The 2.35:1, 1080p transfer is fantastic. There's no restraint in the color design of this film, from the over-the-top BMX Bandit uniforms, to the muscle cars often used as obstacles to jump over; the visual fidelity pumps it all out with verve, the colors popping from the screen. This is a great transfer for a film that's nearly three decades old. Audio comes from a 2.0 stereo mix and, while it's not a barn-burner, it's adequate enough to pump the brutal soundtrack, highlighted by a song about a girl and her changing body...which, ironically enough, is overlaid on footage of a man pretending to be a girl doing bike tricks. Some nifty extras: commentary from Trenchard-Smith, a 40-minute cast and crew retrospective (minus Kidman, natch), and a segment of the Aussie show Young Talent Time with Kidman guest-starring.
A fun time capsule that has staying power. Severin is commended for a high-end release.
Not Guilty. (Insert unknown Australian youth joyful expression here).
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated