Street Machine - - Fanging Flick -

THERE’S some­thing very fresh, bright and en­dear­ing about early-1980s Aus­traliana, and 1983’s BMX Ban­dits has it in spades. This feel-good flick is the stuff of lo­cal leg­end and be­came sur­pris­ingly pop­u­lar over­seas as well – not to men­tion the fact that it’s the sec­ond-ever film role for a then-16-year-old red­head named Ni­cole Kid­man, who learned to ride a BMX specif­i­cally for this part.

Check­out chick Judy (Kid­man) is be­friended by two lo­cal BMX louts, PJ (D’an­gelo) and Goose (Lug­ton), who are strapped for cash for bike re­pairs af­ter a spill at their lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre. They de­cide that sell­ing seafood to the lo­cal market is a means to some quick dol­lars, but stum­ble upon a box full of walkie-talkies sus­pi­ciously moored in Syd­ney Har­bour. Th­ese high­tech ra­dios have all the mak­ings of an easy flip, and Judy, PJ and Goose quickly sell them to all the lo­cal kids, thus get­ting them back on two wheels.

How­ever, th­ese ra­dios have been re­cal­i­brated to a lo­cal po­lice fre­quency by a gang of crooks, who con­sider them piv­otal for the suc­cess of a planned bank heist. It isn’t long be­fore the Bmx-ing trio are be­ing chased by the bum­bling rob­bers Whitey (Aussie movie leg­end and Mid­nite Spares scene-stealer David Ar­gue) and his ap­pro­pri­ately dubbed off­sider Mous­tache (Ley).

So be­ings an epic cat-and-mouse chase in­cor­po­rat­ing some se­ri­ously cool BMX ac­tion – the wa­ter­slide scene was the stuff of dreams as a Gen-x kid – and heavy­haul­ing thrills and spills as an ex-government Ford Galaxie is pun­ished re­lent­lessly from the bad guys giv­ing chase. Re­leased at the peak of BMX culture in Oz, BMX

Ban­dits is a harm­less and en­joy­able film that re­calls the Se­cret Val­ley-es­que flour-bomb-and-soap-suds shenani­gans that en­sue when­ever a bunch of kids tackle bum­bling crooks head-on. The ac­tion and back­ground scenes are full of both pop­u­lar and long-for­got­ten lo­cal rides (did some­one say Toy­ota Liteace?), and the HG Premier wagon com­ing to a nasty end at the whim of a steel girder will bring a tear to a glass eye. But keep your eyes peeled for the tun­nel-rammed, big-block Chev-pow­ered ski-boat pi­loted by the bad­dies – it sounds awe­some, and the scene where David Ar­gue crashes into the donk with a foam Esky will have you in stitches.


FROM an act­ing and sound­track stand­point, BMX

Ban­dits is pretty ter­ri­ble, but who cares? The ac­tion, ad­ven­ture, raw fun and 80s scenery in­spired a gen­er­a­tion of BMX fans, who still re­mem­ber the film fondly 35 years later. To me, that is the great­est in­di­ca­tor of a suc­cess­ful flick, and is one we can proudly call our own. The fact that, nowa­days, two or more BMX rid­ers in a group are still hap­pily re­ferred to as ‘BMX ban­dits’ speaks vol­umes, and harks back to this time of raw, sim­ple fun that we can only hope will res­onate with mil­len­nial view­ers.

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