Film Review: Romper Stomper

Romper Stomper (Wright, 1992)

Romper Stomper is a hard look at racial friction within the disenfranchised youth of Melbourne, Australia. It follows a group of skinheads led by Hando (Russell Crowe) a dynamic and hardened purist and his best friend, Davey (Daniel Pollock), a follower who seems to be questioning their reality.

The group is joined by Gabe (Jacqueline McKenzie) a rich girl who has epileptic seizures, seedy past and is soon sleeping with Hando. Or does she have eyes for Davey? But this is no love story. The skinhead group starts a war with the local Vietnamese community who has no intention of being victims.

The movie focuses on the interworking on the skinhead group and tries to make reason of their thought processes. It entrenches you into the seedy Melbourne underground, putting the poverty, ignorance, hopelessness and anger on full display. Hando embodies this mold and it is his strength, charisma and intelligence makes him a leader. At one point, Davey may have been right at his side, but what happens to a skinhead when he is no longer angry and ties to his group were friendship instead of racism?

Romper Stomper is worth the watch. It will challenge your perception of stereotypes. It is violent, sexually provacative and takes you deep within a world that doesn’t take kindly to strangers.

Fun Facts

  • The director, Geoffrey Wright, also wrote the screenplay.
  • Wright originally wrote the character of Hando for Ben Mendelsohn (Quigley Down Under, Wincer 1990), but he didn’t look menacing with his head shaved, so the role eventually went to Crowe.
  • On the not so fun side: Daniel Pollock (Davey) had a serious heroin addiction and right after the filming of the movie his relationship with co-star Jacqueline McKenzie (Gabe) faltered. All this seemed to be too much so he committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train.
  • Crowe’s band, Thirty Odd Foot Grunts, wrote a song about Pollock’s suicide called “The Night That Davey Hit the Train”.
  • Crowe won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a leading role 1992 for his role as Hando.
  • Crowe was so convincing as the leader of skinheads, that he became an figurehead of sorts to the skinheads in Melbourne.
  • What the skinheads didn’t know what was Crowe really wanted the role because it was the polar opposite of his own moral values.
  • Crowe’s next film to be released in the theater was The Sum of Us (Burton, 1994) and he found it amusing that a bunch of skinheads would line up to see a movie about a gay man and his father.
  • To cut costs the film was shot on Super 16 film rather than 35 mm film.

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