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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.35%
Average: 12.9%
Pretty Bad: 0.81%
Total Crap: 5.65%

8 reviews, 76 user ratings

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by Chris Parry

"Buy a ticket, take a seat and spend a few hours with your Uncle Chop-Chop."
5 stars

Australian films have a recent tradition of stinking. Sample People, City Loop, Strange Planet, Fresh Air, Siam Sunset, The Missing, Cut, Welcome To Woop Woop, Angst and let's not even discuss Yahoo Serious' latest. So going into Chopper, you'd be forgiven for thinking you might be about to sit through more of the same morose morass of crud. But you'd be wrong. Chopper, this violent, gory, altogether non-film-like film, is an absolute cracker. It's not easy to adapt one book into a screenplay, let alone almost ten, but Andrew Dominik's adaptation of Chopper Read's books (and life) is as original, captivating, intriguing and fluid as the best Australian films of the last ten years. And thank Christ.

There's a lot of hub-bub around the politically correct traps at the moment, saying that releasing a film based on the life of an arch-criminal is just wrong, and insensitive to the victims of his crime. Suuuuure, so we're going to cease showing criminals in movies now? What're we going to be left with? Would Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels have worked better if the four main characters had been dealing with a delicatessen owner? "Stop, or I'll beat you to death with this kransky!" Would Scarface have been better if Tony Montana had been a dance instructor trying to break into the tough world of samba? Would Mr Majestyk have been worth viewing if Charles Bronson was an outlaw who breaks into your back garden while you're away and builds you a nice shiny new aspidistra-based floral arrangement, centred with a lovely terra cotta fountain, mosaic tiling and halogen uplights?!

I think not.

No, movies need a villain. A good villain doesn't make us go out and lob a grenade at a passing nun, it makes us go do our taxes. Goodfellas didn't make me want to turn into a cocaine-addicted, knife wielding gangster, just the same way as Gladiator didn't leave me with any ideas that gladiatorial combat might be a career path worth investigating. Just the same way Gone In Sixty Seconds didn't leave me wanting to become a car thief. God, can you imagine anything less cool than impersonating Nic Cage? "Hand me the shaver, mum. I've got to work on my bald spot or the chicks won't dig my rap."

I think not.

No, movies are all about showing us why it would be a bad thing to be the bad guy. Pro wrestling is the only place where the bad guy wins. As citizens, we know this. And thus we are good.
In a film like Chopper, everyone who hasn't seen the film assumes it paints Chopper Read in a glorious light as a loveable chunky little bugger of a bloke who, ho ho ho, just likes to shoot the odd bad guy. Chortle chortle, what a character. And what a crap Tom Hanks-ian film it would be if that were the case.

To the eternal credit of the producers of Chopper, they've decided not only to depict Chopper as an asshole, but a borderline schizophrenic, a lonely old bastard, a media whore and, ultimately, a loser that only a bigger loser would follow. Judging the subject of your biographical film in a harsh light is usually restricted to films dealing with the dead, for fear of repercussions. The onslaught of Frank Sinatra flicks that came after he died would have seen the producers of said flicks fighting for breath at the bottom of Hudson River if they'd been made while he was still alive (and 'connected'). In Chopper, there's no punches pulled. There's no fluff, no light side, no pissing around trying to connect with an audience on an emotional level. This is just a bad ass guy who is prone to torture, murder and the occasional mother-in-law headbutt. He's a nasty case, and with most audiences going in expecting a bit of a giggle, the effect is fairly brutal.

In the audience I saw this film with, 3 of the 300 in attendance left early. A 1% rejection rate, in my mind, is the mark of a film that has sought out to kick your ass, and succeeded in doing so. Those 1% who left early are the biggest fools imagineable. They sat through the brutality, they endured the pain, and then they left before the part of the film that puts that pain in perspective.

The performances on screen throughout Chopper never fail to hit the mark. Eric Bana's depiction of the man himself is borderline comedy throughout, but beneath the comedy expectation is a burning evil, a soul destroying loneliness and a busted up life. Simon Lyndon, as Chopper's 'friend' Jimmy, is just as funny, just as sad. Vince Colosimo's gold chain adorned gangster, Neville, is all the more hilarious because we all know people like him. And wish on them a similar fate.

But the real star of the show is Andrew Dominik's direction of this aussie epic. He's obviously had a ball playing with the camera and every scene is like a short story unto itself. His washed out visuals inside the prison leave you with a stark realisation of the bland, antispetic atmosphere such a place has. His transitions between scenes turn the most mundane locale into a piece of art. His 'goey' sequences, where characters are sped up to an extreme point while talking in real time, are a smart use of a simple camera technique.

There is no storyline in Chopper as such. It doesn't follow the usual three act formula. This is more a film in the Alan Clarke mode, where the subject is the subject. The camera follows Chopper through his highs, lows, otherwises and also's. It's down to you to make your own call on what the message is, or what makes Chopper do what he does. Is he insane? Has he made it all up? The film never tries to connect the dots for you, and that's what essentially sets this above most others of the last five years. It treats you like you're not a frickin' tool.

Forget all the 'criticspeak', this isn't an arthouse flick. You don't need to sit and think for two hours. It's not bloody rocket science. But it is bloody funny, bloody suspenseful, bloody well done and, best of all, fucking good.

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originally posted: 08/07/00 15:42:23
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User Comments

12/29/17 Tom Philpott Total snd utter Australian crap. BANAVICH IS OVERRATED 100% 1 stars
9/14/17 morris campbell A good portrait Bana is excellent 4 stars
3/14/07 leah dat shit was mean 5 stars
8/07/06 ERIN SWEENEY A new classic,it is now on my favorite and must have list 5 stars
7/03/06 Reklc Just say Chopp, Chopp and you got a great flick. 5 stars
6/30/05 Janek Who says crime doesnt pay!! 5 stars
5/11/05 Nick You yanks cannot understand your own pathetic country. Give up and eat another big mac. 5 stars
11/01/04 tom butler fucken ace 5 stars
10/20/04 peter brown fu**ing wild. brilliant film 5 stars
3/23/04 jane absolutely brilliant... 5 stars
3/01/04 michael scott never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn eh. 5 stars
1/08/04 james s awsome 5 stars
1/07/04 Rajneesh Chopra Intakhab IV Dad! 5 stars
12/30/03 tony why isnt there a chopper 2/ 1 was excellant 5 stars
10/16/03 Beck It was absolutley fantastic - Eric Bana Rocks 5 stars
10/12/03 dale auty bloody excellent 5 stars
8/28/03 melissa Best Eva Chop Chop is the best -run for prime-minister 5 stars
8/15/03 Drew Cady best movie ever 5 stars
7/26/03 bill jones great 4 stars
7/03/03 Tim Seed I absolutely agree with Chris Parry 5 stars
6/29/03 fran drescher i played with myself because itwas that good 5 stars
6/26/03 terry a stringer the world would be a safer place with people like him 5 stars
6/23/03 karen mcdonald brilliant but wheres the other stuff they left out ? 4 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Tried to be hip very hard. Too much style, not much substance. Bana was OK 2 stars
4/10/03 Melinda Coady The Govt wanted his $ from this film so Chopper donated it to Child.Hospital. On ya Chopper 5 stars
4/03/03 ohyeah fricken awesome. GIVE ME MORE 5 stars
3/05/03 @#$%^&*!@ I LOVE CHOPPER 5 stars
2/11/03 adam rodwell more,more 5 stars
11/15/02 j.watson shit hot 5 stars
11/12/02 Amber Grassam Great film. Shame alot of things that went on were left out 4 stars
8/02/02 beau mather absolutely fucking wickedly brutally excellent!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/25/02 larry get part two rolling 5 stars
4/02/02 The Bomb 69 interesting storyline but the movie was all over the place, how did he get away with this?? 3 stars
2/16/02 Belinda Jane Chopper let us see the Chopper he wants us to think he is...... 4 stars
1/28/02 Denise Xerri fucking brilliant 5 stars
1/17/02 Davin Boscence Just Bloody Terrific!!! 5 stars
1/13/02 Peter Stisnijovski A movie that you can't sleep thru it (ENJOYED IT and it was funny, but real) 5 stars
12/15/01 denis jared one of the best moves ive seen and the books a must 5 stars
11/25/01 Karl Kissick Greatest Film i've seen in a long time!! 5 stars
11/01/01 Choppers_Girl_Fan The best movie ever 5 stars
10/14/01 Angela Davis the best filck I've ever seen. 10out of 10 5 stars
10/02/01 stephen dilworth excellent 5 stars
9/16/01 renee white i love chopper he is the best 5 stars
8/16/01 anthony west very good 5 stars
5/12/01 The King Great movie, definately worth the money 4 stars
5/07/01 fleakitty charismatic rogue or sociopathic demon? eric bana(na)'s perfect as always. talented man! 5 stars
4/30/01 Mike A none too shabby 5 stars
4/22/01 ricky whitfort very funny movie not far from the truth 4 stars
4/18/01 Robbo Very good 4 stars
4/10/01 Pweter Harshly realistic, incrediable character, unquie 5 stars
4/01/01 wade "bucketbongbouncer" macdonald its tha fuckin best movie 5 stars
3/31/01 fred a bit eerie!!!! 5 stars
2/25/01 Wade Barry like him or not ... absolutley AMAZING ! look at the awards...enuff said 5 stars
2/09/01 hum very well crafted film. be warned, it is as unpleasant as it should be 4 stars
1/30/01 Rubber Fucking Great!!! 5 stars
1/08/01 Jeff Best movie of the year 5 stars
10/12/00 m larsen loved it!!!! 5 stars
9/26/00 Lolita Martinez It was bloody phenomenal!!!!! 5 stars
8/27/00 Timbo Great but the violence made me wince. Fascinating characters, strong acting 4 stars
8/23/00 Geoff Stewart Didn't glorify just lacked any point, do I really give a shit about Chopper Read? 3 stars
8/21/00 Gribbles bloody fantastic mate 5 stars
8/17/00 justin athanitis it is the best movie that i have ever had the pleasure of being able to watch. excelent. 5 stars
8/17/00 neil bartlett an awesome performance from Eric Bana 4 stars
8/15/00 Mick Edwards Eric Bana - Russell Crowe watch out!!! 5 stars
8/14/00 K. Johnson Rather good 5 stars
8/13/00 Belinda And.........the AFI goes to "Eric Bana" 4 stars
8/12/00 ashley james kennedy i have seen it once and plan togo back (still a very good move 5 stars
8/11/00 Nick Excellent 5 stars
8/09/00 Scot Tindall an underdeveloped character study 3 stars
8/07/00 Viling Stop glorifying psychos !!!! 3 stars
8/05/00 ashley james kennedy very good 5 stars
8/04/00 matthew smith the best Australian film in many years, confronting and very funny. 5 stars
7/31/00 filmnet cutting edge filmaking that even chris parry might like! 5 stars
7/23/00 TIGGER Whoa! Soooo cool! I have seen it 5 times and I will see it more! 5 stars
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  11-Apr-2001 (R)
  DVD: 13-Nov-2001


  03-Aug-2000 (R)

Directed by
  Andrew Dominik

Written by
  Andrew Dominik

  Eric Bana
  Simon Lyndon
  Daniel Wyllie
  Vince Colosimo
  David Field
  Bill Young

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