BMX Bandits (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brian Trenchard-Smith|
Paul F. Davies
|Screenplay by||Patrick Edgeworth|
|Edited by||Alan Lake|
Filmways Australasian Distributor|
|22 December 1983|
|Budget||just over $1 million|
After a successful Sydney bank robbery, with the robbers wearing pig masks and wielding shotguns, the man in charge, The Boss (Bryan Marshall), plans a further and larger payroll robbery for two days later worth at least $1.5 million, hoping that he can trust his less-than-competent gang headed by Whitey (David Argue) and Moustache (John Ley) to do the job properly, with anyone who doesn't answering to him.
Two young BMX experts, P.J. (Angelo D'Angelo) and Goose (James Lugton), meet Judy (Nicole Kidman), who is working as a trolley collector at the Warringah Mall during the school holidays in order to be able to buy her own BMX bike, and accidentally get Judy fired from her job when they crash into trolleys pushed away by the local "Creep" (Brian Sloman). The three go out in Goose's dad's runabout on the harbour searching for cockles to sell in order to fix their own crashed bikes, as well as getting Judy her own, and stumble onto and steal a box of police-band walkie talkies that the bank robbers were hoping to use to monitor on police traffic. After stealing the box, the kids pass Whitey and Moustache who are on their way in their high-powered motorboat to pick it up.
Judy, P.J. and Goose sell the walkie-talkies to other kids in the area. The Bayside Police are able to hear the kids using the walkie talkies. Judy, P.J. and Goose are also unaware that the robbers know who stole the box. After they are spotted and chased late at night through a cemetery by Whitey and Moustache wearing monster masks (going formal, according to Whitey), they manage to escape. The next day, P.J. and Goose pick up their newly repaired bikes whilst Judy buys her bike. Judy is caught the next day by Whitey and Moustache while getting a second walkie talkie for The Creep, but escapes with the help of P.J. and Goose. The goons chase the Bandits in a cartoonish chase across opportunistic sites around Sydney, including a memorable escape down the Manly Waterworks water slides, complete with BMX bikes.
The trio are finally arrested but escape police custody and, with the help of the local kids, launch their own plan to foil the planned payroll robbery. Using the walkie-talkies, the Bandits pinpoint the meeting place for the robbers, then proceed to ambush and apprehend the robbers. The Boss, Whitey and Moustache escape in a removal truck with Judy as a hostage, with P.J. and Goose taking chase. They cause the truck to crash, with police soon arriving to arrest The Boss, Whitey and Moustache.
The police build a BMX track as thanks for the capture. In its opening meeting, the BMX Bandits sweep the main awards.
- Northern Beaches
- Warringah Mall
- Waverley Cemetery, Bronte
- Manly Oval
- Manly Waterworks
- The Corso
- Manly Beach
- Sydney Harbour
- Lane Cove Flour bombing scene
The film was originally going to be written and directed by Russell Hagg, only it was going to be about nine year old characters. He was unable to raise finance. The project passed to produced Tom Broadbridge who hired Hagg's frequent collaborator Patrick Edgeworth to rewrite the script and make it about teenagers.
Brian Trenchard-Smith was hired after the producers had been impressed by his handling of action in Turkey Shoot. He says the script was originally set in Melbourne but he persuaded them to re-set it in Sydney to take advantage of that city's locations. He set it on the northern beaches and wrote action sequences based on "my concept for the BMX action being putting BMX bikes where BMX bikes aren’t meant to be." The movie was shot over 41 days, a longer than normal shoot because of the labour restrictions caused by the fact many of the cast were under 16. Trenchard-Smith:
I wanted to capture the spirit of the Ealing comedies and British films of the ‘50s and ‘60s that were clearly aimed at children and delivered action and fun in a largely cartoonish way. If you look at the basic premise of the plot, the crooks clearly want to or intend to kill the children at some point, so how do you disguise that and make that palatable to an audience of kids and parents? You make the crooks buffoonish, the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, so that takes the curse off the underlying purpose.
(1983 Australian Film Institute Awards)
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Patrick Edgeworth||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||David Argue||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Alan Lake||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Andrew Steuart||Nominated|
Director Trenchard-Smith states during the Blu-ray commentary that BMX Bandits grossed more than $1 million in its first 6 weeks and was the 5th highest-grossing film in England for the year of its release. Kidman's performance led to her being cast in the TV series Five Mile Creek where she was directed by Trenchard-Smith in some episodes.
The film was released in the UK. The Guardian wrote: "there's a girl called Nicole Kidman who's rather good".
BMX Bandits was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in August 2010. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as the trailer and audio commentary with Brian Trenchard-Smith, Eric Trenchard-Smith & Chalet Trenchard-Smith. A bonus disc includes a photo gallery, press clippings, Nicole Kidman discussing the film on Young Talent Time, and a featurette titled BMX Buddies with Brian Trenchard-Smith, Tom Broadbridge, Patrick Edgeworth, Russell Hagg and James Lugton.
In 2013 region free DVD and Blu-ray was released as an updated version which includes all footage and bonus material from previous versions on one disc.
References in popular culture
American rock band Wheatus has a song titled "BMX Bandits" on their album Too Soon Monsoon. The song has been dedicated to Nicole Kidman, and includes the lyrics "Hey Nicole" in the chorus. In the song's animated music video, there is an animated caricature of Kidman.
The Scottish Indie-rock band BMX Bandits are named after the film.
- Brian Kelly, "Interview: Genre film virtuoso Brian Trenchard-Smith discusses upcoming BMX BANDITS Blu-ray", Gordon and the Whale 11 March 2011 accessed 8 February 2013
- Kemble, Gary (24 February 2006). "Movie Minutiae: BMX Bandits (1983)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
- Film Buff's Forecast (27 October 2017). "10 - Universal's Australian Chief and An Englishman Abroad" (Podcast).
- Chris Nashawaty "Check out a 16-year-old Nicole Kidman! Her first director says she had 'IT' -- with EXCLUSIVE video", Inside Movies, 6 March 2011. Accessed 8 February 2013
- Heaven's above Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 19 July 1984: 11.
- "Umbrella Entertainment - Complete". Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
- "Umbrella Entertainment - Vanilla Edition". Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
- "Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 January 2018.