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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Short Wave" )

 

directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith
Australia 1983

 

When two young BMX bikers - confidant A.J. (Angelo D'Angelo, THE COCA-COLA KID) and sarcastic Goose (James Lugdon, who shared the camera with Kidman once more in 1987's NIGHTMASTER) - crash their bikes into a row of shopping carts being steered by spunky young supermarket checkout girl Judy (Nicole Kidman), she joins them in search of funds for new bikes (including one for herself). They come across a cache of walkie-talkies (to be modified to tune into the police bandwidth without them being aware) and sell them. Little do they know that the contraband was the property of The Boss (Bryan Marshall, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) and that his goons Whitey (David Argue, RAZORBACK) - so named because he has bleach blond hair - and Moustache (John Ley, MAD MAX) - so named because he has a mustache - are on their trail (along with the cops who have been overhearing the kids' communications). With no help from the cops, A.J., Goose, and Judy call upon their juvenile biking friends to help them root out the crooks. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith already had experience directing action flicks on a budget (for instance, TURKEY SHOOT/BLOOD CAMP THATCHER) and with shooting stunts and pyrotechnics in a dynamic and energetic style (DEATH CHEATERS and STUNT ROCK). It the eighties hair, fashions (although the colors of the BMX-wear spike the already colorful backdrops with bolder colors), music, and the juvenile plot seem off-putting, it is Trenchard-Smith's energetic set-pieces which hold interest. Originally scripted to be set in South Australian town of Williamstown, Trenchard-Smith convinced the production to move to Sydney where they could make the most of picturesque backdrops (to add some visual interest to static expository scenes), beaches, the docks, a major shopping mall (previously utilized in DEATH CHEATERS), and other settings to add production value. Although Kidman was quite photogenic here as a sixteen-year-old, her performance is nothing special. That said, the teen trio are likable and it scarcely matters that we know they are not doing their own stunts (an eighteen year old boy had to don a red wig to double for Kidman since female BMX bikers were few and far between). The bumbling improv comedy of Ley and Argue is variable, but Marshall is great as the chief villain. Oscar winner John Seale (DEAD POETS' SOCIETY) is responsible for the slick photography, although Trenchard-Smith works in quite a few bike wheel level rig shots that goose up the chase scenes. Ultimately, it's an entertaining pic with some energetic sequences (thanks to Trenchard-Smith's staging and editing), but I think I would have liked it better had I seen it around the time it originally came out (when my favorite films included stuff like THE GOONIES). Although Kidman would reportedly rather forget her debut, she's had some more recent films that are perhaps better forgotten.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 29 December 1983 (Australia)

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DVD Review: Severin Films - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Severin Films

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:30:48
Video

2.34:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Severin Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.34:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director Brian Trenchard-Smith
• BMX Buddies: Featurette with the cast & crew (16:9; 38:00)
• Nicole Kidman appearance on YOUNG TALENT TIME (4:3; 2:32)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 0:31)
• Trailers for INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, EAGLES OVER LONDON, and BIRDEMIC

DVD Release Date: March 15th, 2011
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

The dual-layer, progressive, anamorphic transfer is sourced from a UK film element (it is preceded by a vintage BBFC certification card and a Rank Organization gong logo - although it is silent). The colors are bold and the image quite clean. The DVD menu seems to have been based on the Blu-ray edition's (see HERE) menus judging by the superimposed menu options (although they are static here and somewhat awkward to navigate) as well as the erroneous listing for "DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo" audio on the setup menu (the feature audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo on the DVD edition). The stereo track only makes itself known when there is music (including the theme song) or action sound effects. The extras seem to have been ported over from the Umbrella Entertainment 2-disc DVD, which reportedly sported far poorer image quality (which may explain why a British source was used by Severin).

As with the DVD of STUNT ROCK, an amiable Trenchard-Smith provides an informative and affectionate audio commentary (he is joined later by his son). He points out some of his own editing faults, as well as admits that he might have played up the gun violence a little too much for a film aimed at kids). The "BMX Buddies" featurette is longer on crew (director Brian Trenchard-Smith, producer Tom Broadbridge, and writers Patrick Edgeworth and Russell Hagg) than cast interviews (James Lugton is the only cast member to appear, but the others - mainly Kidman - are discussed). The writers and producers discuss the origin of the story - the BMX brand was added after one of the producers read an article in Forbes magazine - the changes to the original script, the stunt doubles, and the film's worldwide reception. "Nicole Kidman on Young Talent Time" is a vintage TV appearance by the actress promoting the film. The theatrical trailer may be a TV spot based on its length and 4:3 framing. Trailers for INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (a spot emphasizing Tarantino's involvement in the extras), EAGLES OVER LONDON, and BIRDEMIC (are you %*@&ing kidding me?) round out the extras.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Severin Films

Region 0 - NTSC

 

 




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