Romper Stomper (1992) from The Realist and Tuna

The Robbins Recipe: American History X meets A Clockwork Orange

This film won many Australian awards.

  • Best performance by Russell Crowe

  • Best music playing while Russell Crowe is onscreen.

  • Best photography of Russell Crowe

  • Best candy bars in the concession stand during a Russell Crowe movie

  • Several other awards for sound editing of Crowe's voice, stunt doubling for Crowe, and other Crowe-related material


Russell Crowe is in a sex scene, but only the side of his hips are visible. He is also seen once in his underpants.

Daniel Pollock's butt is seen in a sex scene, and his penis can be seen in one frame.

Jacqueline Mckenzie participates in several sex scenes. Her breasts are seen, and her buttocls.

Pollock and McKenzie appear to be having sex for real!

I get the impression that Crowe is pretty important to the Australian film industry, since the Aussie acting Oscars aren't divided into male and female, but Crowe and non-Crowe. He's the Depardieu of Australia.

Joking aside, this is a powerful film, with a hypnotic Crowe performance as a charismatic neo-Nazi leader of a skinhead gang. The scariest scene isn't one of the many fights and shootouts, but when Crowe, with his beautiful bass voice and his sincerest intonations, reads to his girl in bed. What does he read? Not the poetry of Walt Whitman or the great Shakespearean sonnets, but Hitler's Mein Kampf. And he makes it sound beautiful. That is scary.

There are plenty of fights, and they are done well. The first scene establishes the tone of the film in style and content. Crowe and his skinheads brutally pummel some helpless and innocent Asians, in a cavernous blue-lit tunnel, all of which resembles the look of Clockwork Orange. The later scene in which the Asians fight back is one of the longest fight/chase scenes that I've ever seen, and is the dramatic focus and turning point of the film.

Crowe's gang gradually gets whittled down to three people after the massive battle with the Asian gang and another with the police. The police find some of the gang members in a warehouse which must contend for the largest building in the world. It seems that the police cars drive through the warehouse for about five minutes at top speed in a spectacular scene.

Finally, Crowe, his lieutenant (also his best friend) and their girlfriend (she switched from Crowe to the other guy) are the only ones left of the gang, and they are also a love-triangle of sorts. They have kind of a three-way showdown at the beach, all of which measures who will betray whom, and which loyalties are strongest.

The beach fracas results in more fatal violence, and the incident ends up getting filmed by enthusiastic Japanese tourists, in a final irony for the Asian-hating skinheads.

It's an impressive movie in a lot of ways, hard-hitting and tense, but with nobody to root for. It isn't judgmental about the gang, and tends to view them objectively and measure them on their own terms. None of them are very sympathetic, but none of the outsiders are any more sympathetic, and the gang members are shown to have loyalty and compassion for each other as well as hate for outsiders.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1, looks good, newly restored for the DVD

  • 2-disk set, second disk just for extras

  • a special on how the DVD print was restored, with side-by-side comparisons to the previous version

  • six different interviews with the director and the cast members

  • full-length director commentary

  • reviews, a trailer, picture gallewy, bios

Tuna's comments in Yellow

Romper Stomper (1992) came a full 6 years before American History X, and. almost certainly, contributed to the screenplay for that film. It marks the first feature length film by director Geoffrey Wright, put Russell Crowe on the map, and was the film debut of stage actress Jacqueline McKenzie.

Set in Melbourne, Crowe plays the leader of a gang of skinheads whose goal in life is to get rid of the Vietnamese for two reasons -- economics and racial purity. McKenzie has called her father to help her move away from the heroin addict she is living with.

It is at this point that we learn all we will need to know about this petite looking woman: 1) She was sexually abused by her father her entire life 2) Her mother committed suicide 3) She is an epileptic 4) She is not as helpless as she looks. She moves in with the skinheads, and becomes Crowe's old lady.

When the gang picks on the wrong Vietnamese one time too many, all the Asians in the world descend on them, killing several, and running them out of their hangout. Crowe's character begins to lose it after this defeat, and runs McKenzie off. She turns the gang in to the police, then goes to see another gang member who has expressed interest in her (Daniel Pollock). Note that they were actually dating in real life. The two have a lengthy, dark, blue filtered sex scene, and I agree with Realist that they were actually doing the deed. It sure looks like they were doing it, they were a couple, and Jacqueline got beet red in the interview when she said that being close to the other cast members made the love scene much easier.

The title Romper Stomper is a play on the TV show Romper Room. The film takes no editorial point of view, and makes no moral judgements. It presents the characters and events, and expects the audience to be smart enough to figure out right from wrong. The film was hugely popular in Australia, and was also controversial due to the lack of moral judgements in the film. The performances, especially by Crowe, and the nudity should make it worth your while.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1, Apollo users 75/100. These scores are better than the critical consensus, equivalent to better than three stars.
  • With their dollars ... a solid hit. Was the number #2 film in Australia in 1992.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B from Tuna and a "real strong C+" from Realist. Realist comments: "It's too violent to crossover to mainstream audiences, and it has no sympathetic characters at all, but it's a very impressive genre picture, and is a good film if you accept it on its own terms. I tend to agree with the IMDb voters rather than the critics. It's too good to be 2.5 stars, and I recommend it if the themes appeal to you."

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