Beneath its CLOCKWORK ORANGE trappings, ROMPER STOMPER is a fairly routine melodrama about young people at the crossroads that has as much in common with REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE as it does with Stanley Kubrick's ultra-violent political allegory.
The gang at the heart of ROMPER STOMPER is led by Hando (Russell Crowe), a devotee of Mein Kampf who, with his fellow skinheads, has taken on the mission of reclaiming Australia from the influx of (mostly Asian) immigrants who, Hando feels, threaten to usurp the country's whites and reduce them
to latter-day Aborigines. His best pal is Davey (Daniel Pollock), until Gabe (Jacqueline McKenzie) comes between them. An epileptic, poor little rich girl fleeing her sexually abusive father, Gabe drifts with the gang, bestowing her sexual favors freely and enthusiastically on both Davey and
Hando. Hando's plans to start a race war crumble when he leads the gang against the Vietnamese who have bought their favorite bar, never dreaming that they'll fight back--and win. Routed from their crash pad, the skinheads hide out in an abandoned warehouse and later try, unsuccessfully, to burgle
Gabe's father's house. Sensing that Davey is beginning to fall in love with Gabe, Hando drives Gabe from the group, but Davey leaves as well, returning to his grandmother's house. Realizing that she loves Davey, Gabe joins him, after stopping off to turn Hando in to the police. Hando escapes the
resulting police raid and takes Davey and Gabe on the run with him. Hoping to drive a final wedge between the two men, Gabe admits that she turned Hando in. Hando tries to kill her, but Davey intervenes and kills him instead.
A controversial sensation on the order of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE in its native Australia, ROMPER STOMPER tips its cinematic hat to Kubrick. But in CLOCKWORK, it was the system itself that was evil and created monsters like Alex. Making Kubrick look oddly old-fashioned, STOMPER writer/director
Geoffrey Wright provides little sociological or psychological background for his characters. They might be victims of the recession and bad educations. Then again, they could just be young people with too much time on their hands. The cliche usually used to praise a film like this is to say it
proposes "no easy answers," but ROMPER STOMPER never even asks the questions. It does, however, provide a vivid portrait of youth adrift in a world of corrupt parental authority and trying to find a way in the darkness.
For all its stylistic flourishes--much of the film is shot through blue filters to give it a cold menacing look--it makes a sharp distinction between the anarchic teen rebellion for the hell of it practiced by most of Hando's gang and the determined evil at its core as personified by Hando.
Crowe is powerful and terrifying, and the erotic chemistry between Pollock and McKenzie is no less intense and enriched by strong performances by both. ROMPER STOMPER is a flawed though compelling eye-opener. (Nudity, explicit sexual situations, violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: NC-17
- Review: Beneath its CLOCKWORK ORANGE trappings, ROMPER STOMPER is a fairly routine melodrama about young people at the crossroads that has as much in common with REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE as it does with Stanley Kubrick's ultra-violent political allegory. The gang… (more)