Worth A Look: 19.35%
Pretty Bad: 0.81%
Total Crap: 5.65%
8 reviews, 76 user ratings
by iF Magazine
CHOPPER. It wowed 'em at film festivals in Toronto and Sundance. And it left much of the iF staff devastated. So much so we decided it would take two critics to properly review it. So here goes with another installment from our dueling scribes "Psycho and Egghead"...PSYCHO: Howdy film buffs. Itís your old pals Drew, you can call me "Psycho" and my brain pan challenged fellow critic Bill, you can call him "Egghead." Say howdy snob boy.
"Artful, audacious and awful violent."
EGGHEAD: Greetings and salutations. Todayís film is CHOPPER, a crime drama based on the supposed exploits of one Mark "Chopper" Read, a notorious Australian underworld figure who turned author while incarcerated.
PSYCHO: While wha-?
EGGHEAD: Incarcerated. He was in jail.
PSYCHO: Right. CHOPPER is one bitchiní film. It starts in jail, immediately launches into a fight and never lets up. I loved it.
EGGHEAD: A little more history first, my simple friend. Mr. Read has written more than 10 novels in his native land of Australia and just how much is true and how much is jail house bravado has been a source there of national consternation.
PSYCHO: Hellís belles, that ainít nothiní constipated about Chopper.
EGGHEAD: I said consternation notÖ
PSYCHO: Just donít start getting all arty on my Chopper. Uh, I mean Choppah. Hey how do you like my Aussie accent mate? Put another Shemp on Barbie.
EGGHEAD: Moving on, we should mention the two chief attributes of CHOPPER the film. One, is the amazing debut performance by Eric Bana as the metal toothed, tatoo-covered murderous thug. For the part the ex-stand-up comic gained more than 40 pounds, shaved his head and ...
PSYCHO: And donít forget that in one scene he shaved his ears too. That was in-tense.
EGGHEAD: Well his character slices his ears off in order to be transferred to a safer area in the prison that is true, Iím speaking of the amazing transformation Mr. Bana went under in order to play ...
PSYCHO: Oh Jesus, get on with it all ready. This film starts violent and funny and never, ever lets up. After the early prison scenes it jumps ahead eight years as he starts taking revenge out on the "mates" who put him there and man, when he gets going, look out. Nobodyís safe.
EGGHEAD: Indeed. His brutality is hardly reserved for just the other villains in the piece or for men in general for that matter. Audiences are going to be hard pressed to stomach the violence in general and the violence against women in particular.
PSYCHO: Like when he smacks around his girlfriend. And his girlfriendís mum. That was funny.
EGGHEAD: Heavens. Certainly not funny in the traditional sense and that brings me to the filmís other main attribute: first time writer/director Andrew Dominik. A New Zealand native who moved to Australia when he was just two, heís something of a rock video wunderkundÖ
PSYCHO: A what?
EGGHEAD: Hmm. Letís see if I can put it in your vernacular. Heís a bitchiní video and commercial director.
PSYCHO: Right. It DID look cool.
EGGHEAD: Well let me address that. Dominik has done something very bold with this, his debut film. Heís made a crime drama laced with black humor that recalls early Scorsese, Samuel Fuller and Tarantino. But then he goes further.
PSYCHO: Huh? Where?
EGGHEAD: Weíre used to American films where violence erupts and then they move on. Not so here. There is extreme violence ...
PSYCHO: Like when he gets repeatedly knifed in prison.
EGGHEAD: Correct. But then interestingly, Dominik chooses to linger. In the filmís most shocking scene, the one youíre alluding to, Bana then removes his shirt to reveal gaping stab wounds.
PSYCHO: He looked like a chest full of fish gills.
EGGHEAD: Very true, very realistic looking. But then he does something else. He has Bana react not in a panicky fashion but instead act oblivious and good humored. He just canít fathom why his friends would turn on him. It elevates both the horror and the humor of the situation.
PSYCHO: I thought it meant that the director was a sick fuck.
EGGHEAD: And all of this is compounded by the very dark, realistic color of the blood and the cinematography in general which is very grainy and hard. It exists in a place thatís both beautiful and ugly at the same time. All dark blues, blacks and greens. In some ways it resembles the high contrast, reversal film look of rock videos but itís never obnoxiously flashy or ...
PSYCHO: Youíre getting all arty on me again Professor. Can we just talk about how it rocks from beginning to end?
EGGHEAD: Its willingness to go to depths other films just gloss over make it one of the most important films of the year.
PSYCHO: Yikes. Does this mean you and I actually agree?
EGGHEAD: Actually, disturbingly enough, I think we both like it, but for very different reasons. I hope you realize this isnít just another nihilistic horror show for you and your friends to get their kicks on.
PSYCHO: And what if it was? Wanna fight?
PSYCHO: Say pretty please or Iíll smack ya one mate.EGGHEAD: Grade please.
PSYCHO: Grade "A" for Awful violent, Awful cool and Awful fun.
EGGHEAD: And an "A" from me for Artful, Audacious and Arguably one of the best films of 2001.
link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4357&reviewer=119
originally posted: 04/14/01 04:20:07
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